July 9th, 2011

How I Plan to Use Google+ Circles

Originally published at Umbral Echoes Blog. You can comment here or there.

Google+ is the shiny new toy over the past week or so.  It is very Spartan compared to Facebook, which is its strength.  It is also very flexible in how you can use it… which I fear may be its downfall (those who remember Wave will be familiar with this).  Circles are cool things — they’re like Facebook friend lists, but instead of being an afterthought as in Facebook, they are a core part of the design of Google+.

I plan to split my circles into two types: “broadcasting” and “receiving.”

Broadcasting circles will contain groups of people whom I want to broadcast certain types of information to.  For example, many people in my friend list really don’t care about my latest Exalted game, but the gamers might.  So I have a circle called Gamers that I will post that sort of thing to.  Basically, the sorts of people that if I would talk to these sorts of things about if I were in front of them face-to-face.  My friend Sheena has even publicly posted a list of her circles and asked people which they would like to be in, which I think is a great idea (maybe I’m into knitting and she just never knew!).  I’m going to post mine on my public profile.

Receiving circles will be groups that I want to listen to for different topics.  I am thinking this will be a much smaller set of circles.  Probably only two, actually: one that I pay attention to always, one that I pay attention to sometimes, and the third implied group of everyone.

What is the purpose of this?

The “broadcasting circles” are to help combat information overload.  One of my main issues with Facebook is that there is a lot of information overload on there: I have to wade through tons of posts that I simply don’t care about in order to get to the few that I do.  So to help alleviate this for others, I plan to be specific about what I share with whom.

The receiving circles is to help combat information overload from the other end.  I’ve just got started with Google+ and I have nearly 150 people on my list.  If all of them were to use the above philosophy of broadcasting circles then my stream would probably be manageable.  However, I don’t realistically expect that — many will probably post publicly (or to all of their Circles) by default.  Which is no knock against them; I realize not everyone is going to see circles the same way that I do.

What are your thoughts on this?  How do you plan to organize your circles?