If you've seen the brilliant Ben Stiller films "Meet the Parents" or "Meet the Fockers" or "Little Fockers", then you know Jack Byrnes, the father-in-law of Gaylord (Greg) Focker. Jack has his circles of trust and you'd better be in the right circle.
When I first heard of the circles within Google+ I smiled, because I immediately recognized it from those films. The concept makes sense. Jack Byrnes explained it to us all in his first private and very tense talk with Greg Focker, so I'm fairly sure I understand it.
Further Google+ elements are as follows:
- Huddle is group-chat.
- Hangouts seems to be a video-version of Huddle.
- Instant Upload is auto-upload to the web and picture-sharing.
- Sparks is Google's version of StumbleUpon. It sends you stuff you're likely to appreciate, to make sure you always have something interesting to read.
The big questions is: will this work?
We'll know it works if Facebook starts to lose its grip on us and we start creating circles and enjoy sparks and start hanging out in the Google way.
Here's what I think, starting with Facebook. When I'm busy with Facebook, I'm Facebooking. That means I go to the site or open the iPad app and I start browsing my Facebook news. I'm constantly aware that I'm Facebooking, because whatever action I take, I will remain within the world of Facebook.
This is quite different from Googling. To google is to search. I go to Google's site and type something and get search results. I click on a result and that takes me to some site, just any site, and it's probably nothing to do with Google. The click took me away from Google and I will only return to Google if I want to search further.
For Google+ to be a success, Google needs to hang on to us somehow. It seems they will not try to copy Facebook and that's good. Instead they will keep throwing as many excellent services at us as they can think of and hope we're interested. If we are then Google increases its relevance to us, which adds extra meaning to googling. That's what I think Google+ may be about.
However, they may be trying something more like Facebook after all. If so, they will collect all those services into one site and try to get you to the point where "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave" (Eagles).