You’d be forgiven for giving Google+ a lukewarm response when it was heralded as the new social network. Today's Twitter is often tomorrow’s Bebo with these things, but after two weeks of using it, we have found it does some things incredibly well, and like many innovations you wonder why no one had thought of it before. Other features are sorely lacking and some are cause for concern.
A friend pointed out this week that being on Google+ was like turning up to a party very early, and while there's some truth in that, our impression as we abstained from the nibbles in the kitchen is that we were in the right place.
It’s uncluttered and clean, and users are encourage to add contacts by putting them into “circles” rather than having one homogeneous mass of "friends". When we first started using it, the idea of grouping your contacts into categories seemed like a lot of work for something we didn't need. Wouldn't life be simpler if we just put everyone in the same group and we could follow everyone’s updates and broadcast to your entire audience? Though it’s always too temping to say it in a technology review, the answer is “yes, but also no.”
It’s easy to broadcast, Twitter-style, to all your collective followers, but while many people have a broad online profile, most of us, given the choice, would want to communicate with different people within that group in different ways.
Sometimes you want to broadcast a message about work-related activity, but don't want to bother your drinking buddies about the pork belly futures. You could get around this by logging into LinkedIn, then back into Twitter and possibly Facebook, but it was all a bit of a faff.
By placing people in circles, you can select messages to be seen by people within a designated audience group. This can mean your Manchester United supporting professional contacts won't see you swearing when Rooney put two past the team you support.
You can also choose to view the updates of all your contacts, or turn on particular circles to see only that stream. This reduces the level of noise in your feed to the updates of a selection of people you follow.