First, our social tools need to recognize that people are complicated. We have many friends of varying closeness and many interests of varying intensity, and trying to communicate all of that through a single output isn’t natural. Paul Adams has compiled a bunch of fantastic research on how people interact with groups and has even written a book about it. Google Plus interpreted this research and came up with the idea of “Cirlces,” a tool that lets you categorize all your friends into groups in order to share things with them. Circles turned out to be an interesting way to share things with people you already know, but it takes a lot of work to maintain, and it doesn’t easily let you share with strangers whose interests are similar to yours.
What Google should have realized is that the important part about sharing content online is not who you share it with, but who you share it as. We all have various personalities. Mine might be my work personality, my photographer personality, my hometown-highschool personality, my video gamer personality. These interests are bigger than my small group of friends who also share these interests, but it’s really, really hard to express my various interests online without managing a bunch of distinct social networks. Our social tools need to allow us to share whatever we want, whenever we want, and not worry about pissing off our friends and followers.
Geoff Stearns, Fixing our social sharing tools
Managing Director, Social at R/GA. Co-founder of Blogs with Balls and future owner of the MLB's Austin Bats.