In this post I would like to discuss the circles in Google+ based on our recent experience designing InterruptMe.
When you get Google+ you have 4 default circles plus 3 more groups. The default circles, surprisingly, are friends, family, acquaintances and following. The other 3 groups are “all circles”, “extended circles” and public. Trying to match all those categories between the two works we find something like:
spouse = Google+ family
family = Google+ family
boss and trusted colleagues
friends = Google+ friends, all circles, and extended circles,
public = Google+ acquaintances, public
The extra circle “following” emerges of a different phenomenon where I am following someones that I probably don’t know, and I expect that person not to follow me. Thus it’s more of a filter for the Stream that a category to classify the data that gets shared. OK, so far, so good. This is a great step forward and other social networking sites should follow closely.
However this is not all. There is another set of features that need to be implemented in order make social media websites better systems. And it’s the fact that social media should not only be assymetric (as real relations are) but should also be accountable. That is, one should be able to know what others know about me. Facebook has a –very hidden– feature (privacy settings -> connecting on facebook -> preview my profile) where you can see how a particular person sees your profile. This capability is what I called traceability in InterruptMe, or what other have called accountability of social translucent systems. A traceable system allows you to know how another person see you, or rather what they know about you. Enabling something we humans do everyday which is to keep certain image, or change it, or adjust our behaviors to what other people know about us. This is called plausible deniability and it’s a much needed feature (like to “unavailable” or “invisible” status on IM services).
OK, that’s it. You can find more details here:
I just saw that Google+ also has the possibility to review how another person sees your profile (the text box on the right of the image below), which is very good. However, it’s missing the glance-ability that we embedded in InterruptMe’s display, that is, the capacity to see “at a glance” how all of your contacts are seeing you. Moreover, I would add the possibility to see how any member of a particular circle sees my profile.