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I think people exist in circles, but they don't necessarily talk or share in circles. If Google, or anyone, wants to mimic real social interaction, they need to find a way to enable talking to the right people for that moment and that content. Even the closest circles don't work in daily life. Rarely do I think "I'd like to go skiing with 'best friends' or 'school friends'". I'm much more likely to think of who skis, who hasn't just had a kid, who hasn't just lost her job, who has a job that allows vacation, etc. Maybe I make a circle for just that, but it seems a) difficult and b) overkill. The outreach and sharing only to that circle just isn't the hard part of the communication. Seems like all that solves is "I can't find that email thread about the ski trip in my inbox".

I'd love replies to this line of thought b/c it actually was a bit of a look in the mirror on some stuff I'm working on.

You are on the right track IMHO. What is key is that 'best friends' or 'school friends' are highly contingent and ambiguous constructs. They are not fixed, but rather are dynamic through time–people flow in & out of circles for a multitude of reason–which is very hard to operationalize technically. More engineers & techies should at least be familiar and respect more social theory, not because it represents some 'true' representation of how real social interaction works, but more as food for thought when designing social/technical infrastructure(or as we say in the biz sociotechnical ;). I see echos of Erving Goffman, Harold Garfinkel, Anslem Strauss, and Emilie Durkheim in RWW's description of circles.

Nobody has seen the UI of Google Circles yet, so maybe creating a circle is as easy as drawing a loop around a group of icons, kinda like how Bumptop, another company Google recently purchased, let you group desktop icons with gestures.

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