Back in March of this year a site called Quora was the hottest thing, and I responded to a question by “The Future of Facebook Project“. The question was “What is the Biggest Threat to Facebook?“, and you can see my answer still posted on the site as well as here on my blog. I was thorough.
Enough that I managed to outquote David Armano in the follow-up article by Emergent design, titled of course: “What is the Future of Facebook?” (Which I obviously haven’t stopped talking about since…)
Moving on…what is this Circles thing? Is it even a social network, or has Google truly “Figured Out How Humans Think“?
My answer revisited on Circles:
The biggest threat to Facebook is innovation.
We forget before there was Facebook, there was Friendster, there was MySpace, there were chatrooms, email and AIM. There will always be the threat of a smart person creating something infinitely better.
Create the ultimate ID and you own the web.
Google Circles has not yet done this. Neither has Facebook. Every site on the web still offers separate log-ins, although many, like Spotify the social music service, and Quora itself offer an integration with a social network API to log you in. Great for us password losers.
Control the way people access the web, and you control the web.
The idea of ranking content by what your friends/network likes is called Social Search and as with SEO, there is an art for websites to ensure they rank high. This is called Social Media Optimization. Google+ is the alternative to a Facebook Like or a Tweet, and combined with Circles so you can see what your friends “+1”, creates Social Search. You can read more about SMO and the Google/Bing wars here: “Rising Heat: Social Media Optimization” and “Social Media Optimization: It’s On!”
Connect people through shared interests.
Google Plus does not seem to have channels to meet new people on its site, but neither does Facebook. So tie. Both are closed for people you already know. Twitter, MeetUps and LinkedIn on the other hand encourage strangers sharing interests to interact. On Twitter this happens through search and keywords, on LinkedIn through Groups and introductions, and through Meetup Groups, people who share interests meet in real life.
Are party pictures “news”? Rank content by relevance.
Circles allows you to filter all that content in channels similar to Twitter. Twitter attracted a lot of attention because it always fresh, has tons of content and moves super fast. You can never be bored, but you can be overwhelmed. Making lists and channels by hashtag allows you to filter the noise. You can even “mute” people through apps like Echofon.
However the circles aren’t so perfect.
The Google Circles You Really Need
Fear of Facebook and our baby pics.
Google is going, excuse the expression, balls out on the privacy issue. Check out their extensive and very clear Privacy Policies. They even have a Google Public Policy blog to let you know their views. The most interesting is about their “Data Liberation Policy.”
The Information Age 2.0
Can Circles Profiles become like a Klout for all websites? Can we have what Quora lacks, the ability to verify the posters are “experts” through Google? Not yet.
Google has allowed us to access and comb through the vast tracts of human knowledge through centuries and around the world. It is our portal to the web. Google Profiles are quickly becoming identifiers so when search rankings turn up we can verify the profiles of bloggers, question-answers, and Tweets.
What about Press Releases? Entire websites and companies, identifiable by their employees and vice versa? Every product and service linked to the people who manufacture and provide them?
It is possible for Google to become the ultimate social network. And if it does, Mark Zuckerberg’s mission will be realized: The “world will be a more open place”, void of anonymity.