Four circles to bind them

I’m still playing with Google Plus and have not made it an integrated part of my personal knowledge management process yet. One aspect of G+ I do not like is the inability to add tags or categorize what I find of interest, or to easily share with other networks. Sharing inside, of course, is easy, as Google would prefer you stay inside their ecosystem. What I usually do with G+ posts I like is 1) post them to Twitter, 2) add as Twitter favourites 3) and then curate them on my weekly Friday’s Finds blog post. It’s a bit convoluted but it kind of works. I could do the same by checking my ‘+1′ tagged items and regularly curating them on my blog.

I really like the Google Plus Hangout feature, which allows for immediate video conferencing, for up to 10 people, and integrates tools such as Google Documents for collaborative writing. Using the ‘On Air’ function lets you live broadcast your meeting via YouTube, which is then automatically recorded and saved as a YouTube video. It is seamless. The audio/video is very high quality with much less lag than Skype.

There is a feature of G+ that makes me think it can be the one to rule them all. These are circles. You add people to circles (which you can name) and then post updates on G+ to one or more circles of your choosing, or make them Public. Almost all of mine are public. But circles work both ways. You can control how much you see from each circle. I would suggest starting out by creating four circles, one for each setting. The settings slider appears on the right when you click on one of your circle names from the G+ Home page.

 There are four settings available:

  • Show nothing
  • Show some posts
  • Show most posts (what G+ recommends, but that’s for them, not you)
  • Show every post

There is also a bell symbol on the right  to subscribe to notifications (it’s a push function so you don’t miss anything). You see these settings explained when you hover your cursor over the slider.

So if you create four initial circles, you could use them as a filter to get better signal and less noise. You don’t need to spend a lot of time making a decision on where to put someone, as it’s easy to move a person from one circle to another. Fine-tuning this over time  could make your G+ stream a valuable information resource.

None: For people who have you in their circles, but you are not really interested in what they have to say, but feel you should be connected anyway. This group is handy if you don’t want something to be Public but want to reach a broader audience.

Some: These are people you know slightly or perhaps post too many updates.

Most: For people you know better, or usually post interesting things, but you don’t feel to you need to see everything.

Every Post: Good for work teams or fellow employees. I use this for my Internet Time Alliance colleagues.

I have found some deep conversations on G+, which is not limited by 140 characters. It integrates with other Google platforms, so it’s easy to share from Google Reader to Google Plus. Over time, I am finding it a good place to have some meaningful conversations. As with Twitter, if you find G+ boring, then you are following (circling) the wrong people.

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