Google+ is the rage…much as Google WAVE was, but people seem to be sticking with + in a different way. It’s interesting to me that circles were such a big deal when it first began, but no one seems to be talking about them any more. I have to talk about them. They’ve been bothering me since the beginning.
Let me preface the rest of this post by saying I don’t use G+ with family or my “going places with” friends. I use it professionally, as I do Twitter, almost 100%. So please read the rest of this knowing that I’m writing with that lens.
I went into my G+ account when I had about 100 or so people and began to put them in circles, trying to be thoughtful about where to place them. I found it impossible and I also found that I was putting pretty much all of them in the “following” circle. I found trying to sort my PLN by value so that I could listen to them or not (without reading what they had to say) foreign to my values of an open PLN. So I left G+ that day and decided to let it sit a couple of days. I couldn’t figure out quite what was bugging me, but something was not feeling right about making those circles. I felt like I was participating in creating in crowds and out crowds, sort of.
Then I saw a tweet by Alec Couros who said he was just putting everyone in his “following” circle and using one–the idea of sorting them didn’t suit him either. But I wasn’t able to really describe what was bothering me about this whole sorting idea until I asked on G+ if everyone had abandoned Twitter. I’ve gotten responses of yes, I have, no I haven’t, yeah, sort of, etc.
I understand making a circle for a specific project–like those involved in a specific task for a job, or co-creating a conference presentation or something like that. I get that there might be explicit times it’s perfectly appropriate to have conversations where you wouldn’t want to involve the world. But mostly, aren’t we on social networks to engage in conversations with and learn from one another?
Honestly, though, Tony Borash’s comment struck home and hit the nail on the head of why I have been struggling with this whole circle thing. He said, ” …circles, which I still find odd, given that it should be the listener who filters what they hear & not the speaker who filters to whom they speak…”
I agree with Tony 100%. I had been bothered by the fact that I was trying to sort who would hear what from me. I shouldn’t filter to whom I speak and that’s what circles does–unless I send to all of my circles, and in that case, what’s the point of making them?
I WAS creating in crowds and out crowds–I was choosing who would be able to hear what I had to say, so some of what I said would be exclusive comments to only selected folks in a chosen circle (edtech, early childhood, etc.). YUCK!
I speak to be heard and to converse with people. I write for people to respond, so that I can be challenged in what I say and so that I can think about my beliefs deeply and in different ways. If I choose to only speak to selected others, then I don’t meet new people or hear thoughts from various others.
I want my listeners/readers to filter what they hear/read.
I want, as a listener/reader, to be able to filter for myself.
I don’t want to filter who hears/reads what I say/write.
I DO, however, want to choose the people with whom I engage–and I do that be responding (or not) to other’s words–their posts, their response to my posts, etc.
I think I was looking at circles as a way to choose with whom I want to engage–but it’s much bigger than that. It’s really about filtering. By placing people in circles and not sending your thoughts out to all of your circles, you are taking choice away from your potential listeners and people who could learn from you. You are filtering your listeners…and shouldn’t it be the job of the listener to filter what s/he listens to and chooses to hear?
Thanks, Tony, for helping me clarify my struggles.