Confused About Google+? You Already Know How to Use It

At this point, just about anyone joining Google+ has already joined a few social networks: Friendster, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, but also a few others probably, too: Instagram, LinkedIn, Gather, Ping, OKCupid, Rdio.

Myself, I've built a bunch of different networks in different ways. On Friendster, I assiduously cultivated a small group of people who never used the service again. On Facebook, I just let whatever happen and that lack of care created a crappy network (I've since deactivated). Twitter I built into my personal newswire, along with random deep dives into some fields like energy that I've spent a lot of time researching. Instagram is just for real-life friends. With Rdio, I look closely at a person's music taste before connecting.

My point is: I had already cobbled together my own personal Circles by using different social networks. So, now, what I'm doing with Google+ draws on the lessons I learned *from* all of them. Friends is Instagram. Acquaintances is Twitter. Family is still family.

Google+ has provided the technology and fresh start, but I'm bringing improved technique to my social networking. I've learned and changed and want different things from my social networks than I did two or ten years ago.

Maybe some people don't and they'll be happy sticking with Facebook or Twitter forever. But for those that do, Google+ is an opportunity to consolidate their social networking selves into one place.

In a sense, this is a counterargument to Yishan Wong's post on Quora, "How Google+ Shows That Google Still Doesn't Understand Social." His excellent statement of Facebook's position points out that no one uses Facebook lists.

When the friends list functionality was originally developed at Facebook, one of the critical realizations was that regular users simply did not and could not comprehend how the feature worked. Something like 1-5% of users were willing to use this feature even when it was prominently displayed to them in numerous UI formulations, each one laboriously A/B tested to see if there was a way to get more users to be willing to sort their friends into lists. Instead, the friend list functionality simply confused most normal users and introduced confusion and complexity to the friending process, so it was appropriately relegated to the status of being an "advanced" feature for privacy-conscious power users.

Yet I would venture that the vast majority of Facebook's users are also on other social networks that they compose differently. It's not that only nerds sort their friends; it's that only nerds sort their friends on Facebook.

Wong also underestimates the changes that many people I know have experienced with regard to social networking. It's not surprising to me that a few years ago people weren't interested in controlling their online reputations or privacy. Now, using my admittedly small circle of good friends and family as data, people are wising up.

Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In