Google+: Isolating the Individual

I really enjoyed Google+ when I first jumped on. The concept of circles was interesting as it allowed me to quickly set up a network that actually represented how I interact with folks socially. Sure you can do this with Facebook and Twitter lists, but Google made it more intuitive.

Then Google started suspending friends and people I admire for coloring outside the lines of its ambiguous "real name" policies. And many people jumped to the defense of Google, admiring its guts and commitment to creating a sterile social network. Animated GIFs and social marketing are great; don't let any of those gender freaks or Second Lifers intrude on our public timelines, they seemed to say. Oh, poor Huxley and Orwell, you are dead and gone.

And then this morning, I realized what's really wrong with Google+ as a social network. Its sharing architecture actively contradicts tribe behavior and isolates the individual. You can create any type of group you like with circles - but the other group members don't choose to be there. You can mark someone as a friend and they have no choice in the matter, whether to affirm or deny. They don't even know what you've called the circle you've put them in. So while Google is requiring utmost transparency at the individual level, it is cloaking key group recognition identifiers. You are robbed of all the semantic and contextual relationship data that both Facebook - with friending and grouping - and Twitter, with listing, provide about how your interactions with others are perceived by others.

On Google+, you are sharing into a maelstrom. And you are alone.

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