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The social and the public

It seems to me that what’s new about Circles (and Twitter’s “Follows” structure) is the weird way they mix the social and the public.

Google Circles are unlike a bunch of people sitting around in a circle talking about stuff, because G Circles are asymmetric: That I’m in your Circle does not mean that you’re in mine. So, when I post to my Circle, it has elements of the social (symmetric communication, the possibility of back-and-forth conversation, and the implication of a continuing relationship) but it also has elements of the public (asymmetric communication, more difficulty engaging in a back-and-forth because of scaling issues, and no implication of a continuing relation).

What are prior analogues of this weird intermingling of the social and the public? We could always be social, and we could always be public (to one degree or another). The casual and often unnoticed mingling of the two seems to me to be genuinely new.

(This expands on my comment to Robert Paterson’s post at Google Plus.)

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3 Responses to “The social and the public”

  1. The intermingling of asymetric social & public has been happening for centuries in taverns around the world. But after a beer or two, it doesn’t seem so strange!

  2. Bars – that was my first thought too =D

    Though obviously it’s not quite the same, seems like there’d be something to be learned by looking at cafe and pub parallels. A new Salon for the 21st century?

    I’ve been thinking about Cluetrain again recently – but much more in the vein that our whole global civilization (such as it is) is a vast array of conversations, and it looks like they are waking up to one another.

  3. […] The social and the public-┬áDavid Weinberger, July 16, 2011 […]

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