Daniel Ewald, landscape architect MNLA

Social Circles

Just yesterday I was invited to Google+ by one of my inner circle friends – a term more appropriate than ever – and in that context I wanted to share a few thoughts on it, and at the same time what I’m feeling about other popular social media platforms today.

I’m what you would call the average social media user, perhaps even above average. I have a profile on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, deviantArt (until just recently), YouTube and Flickr, a few WordPress blogs, and I use them all fairly regularly. I probably qualify as “knowledgeable” in a social media context. Not an expert by any means, but I know my way around.

Now, most of the social platforms I’m connected with are specialised around a certain activity. Generally, the individual network within these are smaller. When I share content, it reaches a certain type of user. In between, or more specifically all around, are the collectible platforms that share information using material from the others, such as Facebook, Twitter and to some extent LinkedIn. Here the networks are larger – much larger.

Unwanted information
The fundamental issues that arise when I desire to share content is what to share, with whom, where to share it and why. Most people couldn’t care less about the growth of your latest pet, what you are cooking for dinner (unless it’s a good recipe following, then I’d want to know about it), what you and your sweetheart spends your summer days with, or your workout schedule. That type of useless information is regardless shared through the mass-communication channels that is Facebook and Twitter, and create the clutter which make up most of the average user’s newsfeed.
When I first joined Facebook, it was pretty clean and had no third party applications or spam. It was a great tool for connecting and keeping in touch with people. Now, with all the unwanted information, I often find myself trying to avoid most of it through a scarce selection of filter functions; I may hide some type of events, avoid others entirely, but in the end most of the information I get I could manage just fine without. Due to the immensity of it all, I feel that what I share rarely (if ever) reach the people I want, when I want. In the end, I’m just there because everyone else is, even if it tortures me. Social media is about staying up to date with useful experiences and information, and I feel Facebook, among others, simply includes far too much of far too little.

Grouping your contacts
Facebook and  Twitter attempts to solve grouping of contacts through a list category feature, but it’s chunky and not very user friendly. To me, this is where Google+ really shines with its Circles, and I sincerely hope it follows through. Creating circles of your contacts and allowing you to choose which circles to share content with is just what I’ve been longing for. Using social media, I want to communicate to as many people as possible, but I still want to reach the right people. Not having the option of choosing what I want to share with whom quickly reduces the choice to “share or not share”.

Who art Thou, Tweeter?
I may tweet as a private person or as a student, I may tweet in Norwegian or English, and I would rather not have to juggle between aliases to avoid confusing my followers. Thus, I often choose to tweet and/or blog and share content that relates to my study, rather than other things that may interest me. It becomes a game of priorities, rather than pleasure of sharing. Now, I won’t have to worry about sounding like I have a split personality. I have a circle of each.

However, in our social media times the inevitable argument looms in the horizon;
FRIEND A: “Hey, I saw the work he shared yesterday, pretty sweet stuff, best I’ve seen him do in quite a while..”
FRIEND B: “Hm? He didn’t share that with me…Wait, does that mean I’m not in his friends circle now?! That douche!”

Maintaining the elegance
I hope Google doesn’t do the same mistake as Facebook and include too much. The elegance of a social media platform quickly detoriates with sparkling new features. Twitter has managed to keep much of its elegance through limitations, and will surely have a prolonged life with the iOS integration etc, but keeping a niche going in a rapidly evolving digital-social environment is a great challenge. Personally I think Google has raised the bar, and I look forward to keep my inner circle strict, as it should be, while simultaneously extending my networks.

Filed under: Reflections, ,

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