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On Google – Sharing

So there’s a bunch of Google search stuff going on. And then there’s this whole Reader kerfuffle. I’m not going to link to any of the hyperbolic “Google is taking something I NEED away from me!” posts. I mean, yes, it’s a shame they couldn’t continue to support sharing within Reader–although it has always been a little broken, especially in adding/removing followers/followees, if you ask me–along with sharing between Reader and Plus. But if I had to pick one, you’d better believe I prefer the way they went! (Current interface bugs aside. They’ll fix those.) I hated that my RPG/boardgame friends had to scroll past the boring library stuff I shared, that I couldn’t choose a sub-audience for the political stuff I shared, or for the craft-and-cooking things, or for hilarious internet memes. I am so excited about being able to share just with certain groups. Having to publicly +1 something before I can share it is a bit of a downer, but it doesn’t take a lot of digging to figure out my political/human rights views, or my stances on pretty much anything else. I’m not an open book, online, but neither am I much of a cypher. So, you know, no big deal. (To be honest, I’m not even sure if my public +1s are collated anywhere. It may really be no big deal, even for people who need more privacy than I do.)

I do wish they’d created a “Reader Friends” circle for me, from the people I had been sharing with. Or, you know, offered me some clever way to add them all with just a few clicks. I’ll live. Most of them are already friends on Plus, anyway. But it would have been nice.

As far as Plus, itself, I’m mostly a fan. I like the easy control over sharing with various groups. I like the drag-and-drop circle population. I like being able to share circles–I recently changed accounts (I also updated my nickname, so http://gplus.to/coral still points to my active account), and it made the process very easy. I like Hangouts, both as an idea and in practice. I love the control I have over my profile and which pieces are visible to whom. I love being able to click on individual circles to see what has been posted in each.

I do wish there were a way to make circles public, though; we should be able not to just share a circle once, but to make some of them world-visible, so that people could say “put me in this circle” (and we could accept or deny each request)! I get that Google was thinking largely in concentric circles from a single user’s viewpoint, consisting of people that user has actually met–friends get basically everything, family get most things, acquaintances get some stuff–but people are now using it for networking, with folks we don’t actually know (I don’t, for instance, know everyone in my Library circle, my Anchorage circle, or my Web Design/Development circle). I try to be very good about sharing only library-related things with the Library circle, but many of the folks in that circle share much more broadly–so maybe allowing tags (and subscription/unsubscription therefrom) would fix the too-much-content problem better than public-circles. I’m not sure. But some of us also want to use Plus for group work and committee meetings, which requires some serious kludging around: honestly, for it to work correctly, we need a shared-circle, something more like a Facebook Group. Plus has a lot of great features for educational use (as some of us at UAA are testing out now), but, in order for an instructor to build a circle of students and get those students to share with one another, s/he has to build the circle, share it, and then trust the students to add one another to their very own circles for that class–there’s a lot of room for that to go wrong (students could join the class after the circle’s been shared and be left out of conversations; students could be lazy and not add each other; students could thoughtlessly add everyone in every one of their classes to a “school” circle; etc.)! The instructor could just add content to the circle and allow students to comment on it, but then there’s no room for students to share amongst themselves, which is sort of the point of educational social networking. So I consider the circle model imperfect, for now, especially if they’re serious about Docs integration and Google For Business.

Also–and maybe this is petty–I’m super ticked off that the iPhone app doesn’t work with domain-hosted Google Plus accounts. The app keeps kicking me off and telling me I need an invite to use GPlus, which is ridiculous. I have a multi-day-old Plus account with over 100 people in it; I am plenty invited, Google! (Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll go submit a bug report on that, right now.)

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