One Circle To Rule Them All?

At some point during the last twenty-four hours, I’ve accessed Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Facebook, Salesforce’s Chatter, Groupwise Messenger and Google+. I also talked to my father on the phone and received a text message from my wife—it said “moo.” While the time I spent on each communication platform wasn’t excessive, it adds up quickly to an amount that would allow me to build an addition on my house—or at least get the dishes washed. There are some people that can reach me on as many as nine of these eleven different communication mediums! It’s hard to believe any one person can manage all of those platforms in a twenty-four hour period with less stress than is involved in setting the timer on the coffee pot. Here’s the essential question when I think about this: Is it better to be tied to many different platforms and manage interactions across all mediums, or would it be less challenging to manage fewer platforms but wade through more information?

Most days I just coast along and do communication rather than think about it. I write emails at work, wade through tweets, occasionally smirk at a Facebook status and try to figure what I should be doing with LinkedIn. Some days I do all that, and blog! However, with the release of Google+, I’m starting to evaluate all these different platforms and trying to make sense of my daily communication. I’ll freely admit that I wasn’t interested in Google+ until I got an invite to join (funny how that happens). While I need another social media platform like I need that hole in my head from the ill-advised earring from college, there’s something very compelling about Google+. There is also something very concerning to me.

In a quick overview, Google+ is kind of like a long-form version of Twitter with the ability to comment like Facebook, Tumblr’s ability to integrate images into posts, a whole slew of other nifty features, and the promise of even more integration with other Google applications. It sounds fantastic, but it also sounds like an informational firehose that will be difficult to turn off. Google Circles is the following/follower management system for Google+ and its premise is that it allows you to post to the people you want, when you want, based on the Circle you’ve placed someone in. It breaks down the “Walled Garden” concept of other social media platforms, where the application is separate from the web at large, and transcends the specific one-on-one communication of email. While it sounds great for the broadcasting aspect of Google+, I worry that it won’t actually work for inbound information. In a sense, you always go to the main “Stream” page much like Facebook’s “News Feed” where you are inundated with everything everyone wants to say. It’s like ordering cable, but being forced to watch all the channels at once.

Today, I can ignore Facebook for a few days before the guilt rolls in. Or, I can take a night off from Twitter and if someone wants to reach me they can. My business life won’t end if I don’t check LinkedIn. With Google+, the potential to have all of those different audiences together (even if they are parceled out into different Circles) could make it too compelling to never take a day off. The non-stop flow of information into your stream will be challenging–even moving from Circle to Circle, the idea that “just one more group” could leave us wide awake late into the night. Adding to this is the possibility that having it tied to everything else I do on the web will make it a bit too overwhelming. I’m not predicting this is the Matrix, but if I want to take five minutes to read the latest musings from my favorite unemployed stand-up comic in one circle, but always feel compelled by guilt to comment on what my mother had for lunch (in the same application) we are moving away from something we do, to something we have to do. And for me that’s the biggest concern with breaking out of the siloed approach to social media that Google+ plus offers.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to cross post the link to this blog on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and email it to my friends. Oh yeah, and I have to do it on my personal and work accounts.

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2 Responses to “One Circle To Rule Them All?”

  1. Jesse W. says:

    As someone who isn’t particularly good at keeping up with social media (I tend to make yearly Facebook updates), my biggest concern is “better” versus “more”. Is Google+ better than other outlets, or is it just another one?

  2. Joel says:

    I think that’s really the crux of my thinking. I really like it and I think it offers a lot of features (and does quite a few things better) than other social media platforms without a lot of the noise (like Farmville updates). However, it’s hard to tell until more people start using it. I think for many people it will be just another platform, or another way to take up your time, rather than “the” platform. Personally, I don’t see it taking away me away from Twitter any time soon, but it will take away from Tumblr and Facebook–especially as more of those people migrate. Remember too, that better doesn’t always mean people will change and despite some great features, people moving to the platform will really determine if it’s “better” or just “more” in the long run.

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