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Google+ Social Networking Service

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Google Plus, Google’s new social networking service, launched a month or so ago and amassed eighteen million users in the first few weeks of its field test alone. For comparison’s sake, it took both Facebook and Twitter over two years to reach this amount.

Part of Google Plus’s appeal is that it was born of real social network analysis. Paul Adams, formerly of Google and now of Facebook, does research where he has people describe their social networks with post-its and markers, literally drawing out their social mindsets. From his research it’s become clear that we tend to categorize people into groups, and we have different ways of interacting with different groups.

This is nothing groundbreaking – as a matter of fact, early research around internet forums and identity honed in on the way users created an identity that could be separate from who they were offline. But it hadn’t yet been incorporated into social networks in an effective way.

To capitalize on this mental model, Google Plus offers circles. You can define circles however you like, pull in your contacts to any number of circles, and then send your updates to the public, to specific circles or to individuals. Not just friends, family and acquaintances, but location, appropriateness, interests, age, and other filters help users define their circles. Technologist Christopher Allen has systematized his categorization and maintains 42 carefully curated circles. Dante’s circles of hell jokes abound, as do jokey lists.

Circles allow you to better target your messaging – that’s marketing-speak for saying the right thing to the right people. It helps protect you from having that awful picture at the end of a drunken night show up in your boss’s feed, but also helps you in more nuanced ways, as well. I can create circles around my New York food nerd friends who I like to invite to dinner, who may or may not overlap with people I know who would be interested in talking about the nuances of Google Plus’s terms of service. Those who are just interested in oyster happy hours don’t have to hear about internet legalese, and those who are hashing out the legalese with me from Boston or beyond don’t need to see the back-and-forth on what time we’re meeting up for Malpecs in Manhattan.

This also allows for a more fluid sense of identity and a more easy-going conversation. Phil Gillman, head of strategy at an Australian ad agency, says, “It feels very natural in interaction style… It feels less like comment streams and more like conversations.”

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Written by bryanruiz11

August 14, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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