Monday, July 25, 2011

Google+ Venn Diagrams

The killer feature of Google+ is that you can put your friends into circles. (I've also noticed that the sky is blue, and water is wet.) But I think G+ needs one more tweak.

I became a true believer in Google+, an absolute convert, completely repentant of my tawdry affair with the facebox, today, when I wanted to post something on the theme of sexual intercourse.

It was at that moment that I realized that the names of my circles were all euphemisms.

The cutesy names for all my circles could be described in more formulaic prose as:

"People with whom I can talk about  without annoying them, scandalizing them, or starting a pointless argument."

This is incredible. And given the ability to create multiple affiliations, it's no problem tagging Levi as an anarchist, singularitarian, libertine, programmer, and friend.  

(The USS Prometheus has dual affiliations. So useful.)

This is almost social networking valhala. A million perfect personal bubble filters. I can be the whole me (or at least all the different mes I want to be.) Almost.

Here's the problem. Sometimes this happens:

What if I want to talk about sex and anarchy? Then what do I do? The circles betray me. I have to nominate recipients individually.

If Google+ allowed us to post to category intersections, for example "programmers who are moms" or "Christians who aren't offended by the word 'fuck'", I think that it would solve all the world's many problems.

Maybe it's not a feature that everyone would use. I think the mavens would use it, though, and their early loud-mouthed migrations to the clearly superior network would get things going for Google+ (as if things weren't already "going.")

And then it's onward to the land rush. And the eternal September.  

You should seriously consider RSSing my blog. I mean, have you read it? Wow. Some stuff, this. I had a global reach higher than James Altucher's for one week in May. We can do better than that, guys, I know it.


  1. umm no, you can "share" with more than one circle.

  2. Yep! But I'm talking about sharing with only the people who are cross affiliated with two seperate circles. "Parents who are also teachers," or the like.

  3. Great point. I haven't come across this yet but I can see it being implemented hopefully.

  4. I also want to see subcircles. for instance, I have a large number of gay friends so I have a Gay Circle. I also have a lot of Bear friends so I have a circle for that. Now every single bear friend I have is a gay friend. I wish I could just put someone in my bear circle and it would add them to my gay circle.

  5. Yeah, there's chat on reddit about this too, in the comments for this post. I think it's a good idea. I also love that you've illustrated your point with a topic which is itself a prime example of something one could only share with a certain intersection of circles :)

  6. Is it possible to have the same people in different circles? In that case, why not make three circles for instance, one for Libertines, another for Anarchists, and a third for Anarchist/Libertines? You could to the same thing with "subcircles".

  7. Yep, you could, but it would take a lot of time (well not for me, I don't have any friends, but if your circles had hundreds of people it would), and the combinatorics can also get out of hand. There is one possible intersection of two groups, three for three, six for four, and onward, pretty quickly up the exponential slope (10, 15, 21, 28, 36, 45, 55, 66, 78, 91, 105, 120, 136.)

    And I, for one, don't want to make 21 extra groups just to define the intersections of my seven existing circles.

  8. Several of my mathematician colleagues have asked for the same feature. I think the simplest way to implement it would be to allow "and" and "or" to be typed in between the circles which you post to. Rather than actually create new circles which are logical composites of existing circles, you should be able to specify the particular operation you want when you actually make the post.

  9. You do realize that "circles" aren't really a "killer feature", right (assuming that by "killer feature" you mean an amazing feature that no competitor has)? As things stand now, there's no real functional difference between "circles" in Google+ and "friend lists" in Facebook, which have been around for ages.

    Granted, Google+'s implementation of the concept is maybe a little more intuitive/easy to use... but the truth is, it's the marketing of the concept they've done that's made it catch on. Most people I know of who've been ranting about "circles" were never even aware that "friend lists" existed in Facebook.

  10. There is a difference, in that things may be published only to a specific circle.

  11. Publicq, the difference is that most people in Facebook have eleventy gazillion friends they don't want to have to sort into groups. Google, doing this sorting system from the start, is guiding us into sorting our friends as they join.

    Not to mention that there isn't really "friends" in Google Plus. There's just people who are in my circles, and people who have me in their circles. It's a different mechanic than Facebook uses, which requires both parties approve each other.

  12. I would also like to be able to see some nesting capabilities.
    ie I should be able to create a circle by dragging in one or more circles

  13. So, I bust my ass coming to your blog every day (uphill both ways!) to get a serving of the cognitive snacks you provide, and now I find out you are tweeting your thoughts out into a private memesphere?

    Ouch. All I can say, sir, is ouch.

    I guess being antisocial all my life has left me with a suboptimal understanding of these social webs people spend all their time spinning. I mean if you have a blog, as you do, where you obviously feel free to use the strongest language, which you do, and you can make a dollar here and there from that - why would you not put your thoughts there?

    Note: that was a rhetorical question.

  14. Your circles are way better than mine.

  15. Your shoes are way better than mine.

  16. And Arctiidae, my friend of letters, my brother. Come to Texas.