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September 2, 2013

Merging my Google Plus accounts

I made the mistake many years ago of creating a Google Accounts email address in addition to my existing Gmail account. Thus I have been plagued (granted, it’s an excellent example of a First World Problem plague) with two out of sync accounts.

Gmail works fine because “[email protected]” is my public-facing email address and has been since about 1994 when first I took the evident.com domain. (Yes, children, there was a time when you could register an existing word with all its vowels just by being the first to claim it.) When you send mail to that address, it shows up in my [email protected] Google Account. It also shows up at my [email protected] account, which now has 12,722 unread messages in it. Nevertheless, the “system” works for me.

But it does not work for me at YouTube.com, where I have two accounts that cannot be merged. I’ve tried.

And I thought it didn’t work at Google Plus. But recently I’ve been getting friend requests (or Circle requests, I guess) at G+ for [email protected], whereas my social network (such as it is) is at [email protected] Since I do very little with G+ anyway, it only bothers me because I hate rejecting friends’ requests, even though they’re trying to join a G+ that I don’t ever check and that currently has a total of 7 people in it. So, I googled for info, and found that Google Takeout promises to move my dweinberger Circles over to evident. Google seems quite serious about it: access is limited during the first 48 hours, the transfer takes up to 7 days, and you can only request one transfer every six months.

We’ll see how it works. In any case, I do appreciate the Google Data Liberation Front commitment.

And perhaps now my Circles will be unbroken.

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July 31, 2011

The mystery of Public and Incoming at Google Circles: An Explainer (unless I’m getting it wrong)

I thought I understood Google Circles until I tried explaining it to someone. So, let me see if I have this straight.And if I do, then I have a suggestion for Google Plus: Instead of saying that we post to “Public,” tell us we’re posting “To Followers.” And instead of letting us look at our “Incoming” stream, tell us we’re looking at “From Followers.”

Let’s say I have two circles: Friends and Coworkers. Into Friends I put Fred, Fanny, and Felicia. Into Coworkers I put Carol, Carl, and Cathy.

I now post something to Friends. Assume all members of my Friends circle have put me in one of their own circles. My Friends now see my posts whenever they check the stream from the circle they’ve put me into.

Now, it turns out that my coworker Carol hates my guts and hates hearing from me, so she hasn’t put me in any of her circles. Does she see my posts to my Coworkers circle anyway? If not, then either (a) I have the illusory sense that I’m posting to her when I post to my Coworkers circle, or (b) Carol is seeing my posts even though she does not want me in any of her circles.

Google Plus solves this dilemma through the Incoming stream and the Public circle. By putting Carol into one of my circles, two things happen:

(1) When I check my Coworker stream, I now see what Carol posts to Public. Since Carol doesn’t have me in any of her circles, she doesn’t want me to see what she posts exclusively to those circles. But, if Carol posts to Public, it is visible to anyone who has encircled her…even people like me whom she hates. If Carol didn’t want me to see it, she shouldn’t have posted it to Public. (Think of posting to Public as posting “To Followers.”) [Note about an hour later: Thanks to useful discussion of this post over at G+, I realize I should have added that posting to Public means also that your post has a publicly accessible URL.]

(2) My posts now show up in Carol’s Incoming stream. That stream shows all posts from people who have encircled Carol. If she doesn’t want to see my posts in her Incoming stream, she can mute me. (Think of Incoming as “From Followers.”)

The asymmetry of Circles is their genius, but, just as with Twitter, they lead our mortal brains astray. We think that because we’re posting to a circle, everyone in that circle will receive our post. Not exactly. If they have encircled me, it will show up within that circle’s stream. If they have not encircled me, it will be visible to them in their Incoming stream.

So, if you are an Internet Celebrity who has been encircled by 100,000 people, but who has encircled only ten close friends, your posts to your circle of ten will be visible only to those ten. (If they haven’t encircled you, your posts will show up in their Incoming stream.) If you post to Public, all 100,000 people will see your post within whatever circle they’ve placed you in.

I understand this as I write it. But, wait a second…yeah, it’s gone. :(

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July 16, 2011

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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July 8, 2011

What is Google+ for?

Edward Vielmetti asked on Google Plus “What is Google+ for?” I thought Peter Kaminski‘s response was particularly insightful. (Quoted in full with Pete’s permission.)

The purpose of Google+ is to keep you within the Google web (as opposed to having you outside anybody’s web, or in someone else’s web). Where “web” used to mean the spidered collection of documents and files available via HTTP, but has grown to mean your Digital Life.

Google’s business is to mediate as much of your Digital Life as it can — similar to the way Microsoft’s business in the old days was to mediate as much of your Digital Office as it could (back in the day when Digital Life and Digital Office were nearly equivalent). The monetization model is completely different, of course; but the more of your Digital Life Google can mediate, the more they can monetize, and the more sticky the whole suite is. Google wants to be as ubiquitous as Microsoft used to feel.

(Google and Microsoft have also had altruistic goals of making the world a better place while running their business, but of course that means they have to be successful at business to be successful in their altruistic goals.)

Google has been pretty good at understanding how far Digital Life will reach into Real Life. Want to find out where you are physically and where you’re going? There’s a Google (Maps) for that. Want to watch millions of channels of video? There’s a Google (YouTube) for that. Want to talk to your friends, family and business associates on the phone? There’s a Google (Android, Voice) for that. Etc.

It took them a while to figure out that “socializing with friends” was a big part of regular folks’ Real Life, and then it’s taken them a while to figure out how to make a Google for that. But it looks to me like they got it right with Plus.

Bonus look at the other players in the game:

Apple: understands the idea of a Digital Life, but hampered by its long-term view that Digital Life would be built around digital assets (documents, apps, media), instead of Real Life.

Facebook: has a huge head start on mediating your Digital Life, because it’s built on socializing, which is a big part of regular folks’ Real Life. May or may not figure out there are other parts to it.

Microsoft: mediated most people’s Digital Life for a long time. Parts of it understand that there’s more to Digital Life than Digital Office. But they may die by milking their old cash cow (Innovator’s Dilemma) before succeeding in the new game.

Yahoo: accidentally, subconsciously, understood Digital Life early on. Couldn’t wake up and realize it consciously, gave away the race.

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