Rohit Mishra

Thoughts which don’t fit in 140 characters.

Google’s New Social Network - Circles

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Google is launching a new social network - attempt number 4. Remember Orkut, Wave and Buzz. ReadWriteWeb reports

If what we’ve heard is correct, the service will offer photo, video and status message sharing. Everything users share on Circles will be shared only with the most appropriate circle of social contacts in their lives, not with all your contacts in bulk.

The new network will be called Circles. It is not a social network, but will work on top of existing social networks.

[caption id=“attachment_108” align=“aligncenter” width=“300” caption=“Tim O’Reilly’s deleted tweet on Google Circles”]Tim O'Reilly's deleted tweet on Google Circles[/caption]

Its core USP is supposed to be a method to identify a subset of your contacts with whom your status update, photo or video will be shared. It is unlikely that Google will leave it only on algorithms. They might use recommendation algorithms to suggest what your various circles might be - friend, workplace, family etc. But users don’t generally like to create lists - something that took Mark Zuckerberg by surprise. The problem of correctly identifying your various social circles and the privacy it gives is a real one - as danah boyd’s keynote at SXSW 2010 made clear. There are two problems with Google’s new effort though.

[caption id=“” align=“alignnone” width=“620” caption=“Google Me - Techcrunch”]Google Me[/caption]

ReadWriteWeb also reports that

In December a screenshot was leaked to TechCrunch showing a new toolbar item on called “Loop.” (Loop seems similar to Circles - I think Circles is better.) I believe that Circles will be a toolbar level service as well.

I was a staunch Firefox lover, until Chrome became just too good not to be used. Apart from better speed and stability, one of the major attractions of Chrome was its clean design which increased the screen real estate. Since then, every major browser has adopted a similar design. In other words, toolbars are dead. Google can integrate Circles on its own websites (as the above screenshot shows), but the main challenge will be in integrating it with 3rd - party websites.

Secondly, Paul Adams, the ex-Google researcher, on whose ideas Circles is apparently based, jumped to Facebook a while back. Facebook attacked the same problem with its new Groups. which work very well (apart from the email notification spam). When it comes to sharing things publicly, Twitter’s concept of one-directional follow is very good. _(For newbies, Twitter lets you follow people who don’t need to follow you back) _ Social used to be binary with Facebook and Twitter at opposite ends. But improvements like Facebook Groups, Facebook Pages and Twitter lists have addressed this problem significantly. It will be interesting to see what Google can offer.

Technology guru Tim O’Reilly  talked favorably of Google Circles on Twitter. He has since deleted his tweets. As far as I remember, he said

Google Circles is awesome. But it is only the tip of the iceberg.

Google has made it clear that they are not launching anything today at SXSW, which may explain why Tim O’Reilly deleted his tweets.

[caption id=“attachment_109” align=“aligncenter” width=“300” caption=“Google - Not launching anything new at SXSW ”]Google - Not launching anything new at SXSW [/caption]