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I think a social network that has the ability for friend groups / circles is way over due. Will be interested to see this!

Yes, the name "Circles" is awesome. It's agressive and appealing when seen from the perspective of "what do you offer that's better than Facebook", but also generically pleasant if you just encountered it as a product.

Yes, the name "Circles" is awesome.

Yup. Circles was also the name of social groups in Microsoft's threedegrees software.

WRT to the sibling post I'd be inclined to think that circles being such a common synonym/abbreviation for "social circles" that it lacks sufficient distinctiveness to indicate the origin of a product related to social networking.

If they wanted an RTM then they should have gone for a misspelling.

Is that in a similar enough field for trademark infringement?

As far as just the name, Etsy just released a 'follow me' type feature called 'Circles' a couple of months ago. http://www.etsy.com/storque/etsy-news/shop-together-circles-...

It's actually kind of confusing. Saying you 'circled' someone sounds odd, since it's not quite accurate. 'in your circle' vs 'in my circle' is kind of clunky compared to 'following me' or 'I follow'.

They don't offer anything related to groups of friends, though. It's a generic implementation of the usual 'following' set up.

I'm positive it'll just be a matter of time before "Sphere" rolls out.

No, because people can't think in 3 dimensional Ven Diagrams.

Perhaps MonkeySphere, which begins ejecting least-touched contacts once you hit 100.


Pretty critical thing here is to make maintaining those separate circles trouble-free. Google might have the necessary machine-learning capability to automatically put people into the right circles. If you have to start from scratch and do it all manually this won't work

You have the user start doing it by themselves and then you use this data to train the learning algorithm.

Similar to when you first enable Priority Inbox. It asks you to mark a dozen or so of your emails as important or not important, then it guesses the rest of them based on that initial input. Then, if you don't agree, you can make some more corrections, and iterate until everything's generally satisfactory.

Obviously false positives and negatives have far greater potential consequences here than with priority inbox, but the same general ideas can be applied. Also the social graphs of the the people on your friends list is a very rich source of data for the learning algorithms. Once you've placed two or three people from work into the 'collegues' circle the connections between those two or three examples and the other people you know from work will make it pretty simple to guess the rest of the work circle.

EDIT: and assuming that circle will start off by importing your google mail contacts, it already has a fair amount of implicit data about your social graph when it comes to those people due to your email activity with them, and their email activity between each other.

Thinking about it, the priority inbox stuff could well prove to be a very rich soruce of data for them generally in this circle endeavour.

One thing that could seed Google implementation of distinct friend circles is Gmail folder (label) inspection of who is on the same email lists. One of my largest and most active groups of friends is a group initially formed around common membership in an email list, an internal email list of a membership organization.

This I could get into. I've never had a FB account, but if I can really maintain walls between spheres of contacts, I will be giving circles a try.

Gmail integration wouldn't hurt either.

From what I understand, The Fridge (YC S10) has been providing this ability for a while: http://www.frid.ge/

One problem i could see though is that limiting your sharing to only certain social circles might be too limited for some people. The other day my roommate was upset that I couldn't see some of the pictures he'd been tagged in on FB because I wasn't already friends with the owner of the picture. People like being able to show off their pictures to others and sometimes it seems people want everyone to see a picture, whether theyre friends or not. If sharing rules are too strict they might run themselves out of business. On the other hand, i suppose Facebook is a virtual generator for privacy issues...maybe Google is on to something. I think its far too early to call it either way.

There should certianly be a "you were tagged in these photos, do you want to add them to one of -your- albums" feature. In my experience, my entire album is built from photos someone else has taken. I'd never considered what their privacy settings are doing to my friends viewing....

It's a feature that can be worked into Facebook in ways that will be far superior to starting a whole new social network. Google is fighting a losing battle here because they seem convinced that people want a clone of Facebook with a few extra features. And it's just not true.

Facebook does have this capability - just click the padlock next to your status. Just no-one seems to use it.

I use granular settings for messages I post to Facebook. I also use the new "private groups" on Facebook a lot.

(I just tried to show a link to the "private groups" feature on Facebook, and that proved to be very frustrating. It took me a while of thrashing around with Facebook's help feature--after first trying Google, ahem--to find the main page about Facebook groups


to show those of you who haven't tried them before. The private groups posting interface differs in some weird ways from the usual posting interface on wall posts and private messages, as typing "Enter" instantly posts the message, and the only way to form paragraphs in text is to type Shift-Enter, which is especially confusing for Mac users.)

It will be interesting to make the comparison between a new Google offering and Facebook. Any product or service that offers social interaction has to help each user build a network among the user's friends. Buzz was a big fail that way, as most of my friends immediately decided not to use it, but perhaps something new from Google will be more successful. My friends are all smart enough to know how to bail out of the second-best network if something better than Facebook comes along.

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