If you’re the kind of tech savvy person and you haven’t hid yourself under a rock the last two weeks then you should by now be aware of Google’s newest toy, Google Plus. Most people regard to it as Google’s approach of a social network, many see it as an attempt to pick up the challenge against Facebook and some brave ones even speak of it as “the Facebook killer”.
Yet none of those might actually grasp what the idea behind Google+ is about.Google has had many approaches towards a social network of its own. There is Orkut, a social network spread across Brazil and India that is about as old as Facebook. Another try was attempted with a Twitter-ish service that as of today is still in use, called Google Buzz. Finally Google made an even bolder move and deployed Google Wave, a collaborative network for sharing content and documents which ended up so complex even in its beta state that few users actually felt any need or usage for it.
There is much more to come and yet the developers of the Emerald Sea project already managed to introduce a usually positively commented feature for sharing content and information with other people: the circles.
Now they’re basically what other sites or products call a list but since they are very easy to create and as easy to use for sharing most of those 10 million users who already signed up to Google+ prefer them over any other equivalent for categorizing contacts.
If you are interested in a look deep down the rabbit’s hole I’d recommend you to read Steven Levy’s article on wired.com who accompanied the Emerald Sea project and is the author of “In the Plex – How Google thinks, works and shapes our lives”.
It is definitely worth the time and might give you a hint why Google+ is not meant to be yet-another-social-network and how it can not be discarded as easily as Wave if things don’t work out for Google.