Google+, Marketing and Circles

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Google+ Which Circle to Put Your Friends In; Google+ Real Name Account Debate

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Xah Lee, 2011-07-15

Google+ Real Name Account Debate

Recently there's a debate, complaint, mostly from Second Life players, about Google+'s policy of account names. Namely, Goole+ is starting to ban accounts whose name does not seem like real people names. On the web, many notable Second Life personalities are lobbying or boyscotting Google+. See here and collection of blogs and press articles about it: My Google+ Profile has been suspended because I'm using my Second Life avatar identity (2011-07) By “Opensource Obscure” @ Source www.flickr.com

(if you don't know what g+ is, see Wikipedia: Google+)

I say: fuck avatars. Shows ur rl face.

remember like 10 years ago in the late 1990s or early 2000s, when the Cyperspace has the saying that nobody knew you are a dog? and when you went to online forums when such began (e.g. livejournal), everybody has names like batman this or vampire that. You can never know who the fuck they are, and can never trust anyone. Everybody talks their big talks and whatnot lala-world behind their masks. (actually, just like Second Life today) Real business or relationship development is very difficult. Thanks largely to the “Face” in Facebook, today that's mostly gone, where any normal people, joe & jane, moms & pops, grand ma and aunts, can more easily establish real friends, conduct business, get hired, date and get married, meeting new people and friends online. I don't like Facebook, due to its terrible ethics (See: Facebook's Ethics.), but in the history of the web, it is due to Facebook that the use of real names and real photos became a common practice.

of course, there'll always be a small group of people who prefer to go anonymous for various reasons. e.g. they might be “hackers” (shy engineer types), or married people who want to explore online sex, or they might want to discuss political sensitive issues. Or, just as in real life, some are extremely shy, social phobia, or the creepy personality types (me), etc. That's all good. For this group of people, why do you want to be in a SOCIAL NETWORK in the first place? There's still good reasons some want to be on g+, then you could use “real” pseudonyms, e.g. John White, Mary Jane, Lewis Carroll, Pauline Réage. G+ doesn't really force you to match your name with a real life ID, and nobody would pick you out for that. Please, no Batman, Venus, Morpheus, Princess X. There is, after all, literally a Second Life for that.

(with respect to my SL friends. But my rants stay their style as is. LOL)

See also a precedence: The Demise of orkut.com.

Here's one of the online article about the issue: The Google+ Controversy & Virtual Worlds – A Question Of Identity (2011-07-16) By Avril Korman. @ Source searchenginewatch.com

Here's a comment i made, written more for SL crowd, edited:

even i hate Facebook for their terrible ethical standards, but it is due to Facebook that the use of real names and real photos became a common practice, with that, making real friends and conduct business online became more widespread. Before Facebook (say ~2005), the internet forums are like today's 4chan, or, Second Life: you never see any real name or photos in any forum or comment.

note that g+ does not force you to use real life identity. It simply want you to not use fantasy names, e.g. Morpheus, Barbie. They have good business reason too. When grandma or business men went to a social network, and when a significant percentage of people you see there are Batman and Barbie or Dragons, what are the chances your grandma and businessman want to sign up?

this is the same reason Facebook became a huge success for social networking — due to it's roots that focus on real people and real photos, the Face in Facebook, the Book of your Alma Mater. It is this reflection on real life, that common people, who barely knew what's a email (e.g. your mom, your grandpa) became a part of it. Before Facebook, there's plenty of social networks (livejournal, slashdot, blogger etc), none of which focused on real name with photos. Similarly, linkedin is also successful, due to its focus on employer/employee networking, which require real identities. (i suppose myspace too, though i haven't used it.)

if you want anonymity, there's no lack of places to go. Second Life, 4chan, countless gaming communities. In general, you don't conduct business, or establish real life friends, etc on these communities. You conduct fantasy and beer friends there.

the US law cited, if true, doesn't require that Google or any social network services regarding using “any” names. Try to join a real life club using Batman. See if they kick you out, and see if you can sue them successfully.

as digital age marches forward, increasingly more activities are done online by *common people* (not just gamers, artists, outcasts, technologists, or young people). e.g. online purchase, online dating. These began as forward-looking and questionable, but thru the past decade more and more every activity that's possible online will become common practice. And for this to happen for common people, real life identity is essential. It's going to happen whatever your stance is on g+'s naming policy, or whether g+ fail or not. It's a matter of time. While, this does not mean anonymous communities will disappear, on the contrary, i agree with you that there'll be more and am glad for that. But it just ain't gonna be Google+, and personally i want Google+ to succeed, and kill Facebook.

Google+ Spam

on a different subject … there are already several accounts that's pure marketing spam accounts adding me to their circles. It works like this. Let's say you sell health insurance, and with a site with ads too. Create a g+ account. Then, add as many people to your circle as possible. (a large percentage of Twitter and Facebook accounts are like that). If you have 1k in your circle, perhaps 1% will get curious and click to see who you are in your link. Bang, effective enough marketing!

Which Circle to Put Your Friends In?

On a separate subject, about the circles, the theory is that in rl we all have different circles to do diff things with, e.g family, close friends, workmates, roommates etc. So comes g+ with circles. But then, doesn't seems to work. Because, to work it out, it's a extreme pain to manage the circles. Online, typically we know hundreds of people. You're not sure which circle or circles to add them to. Not sure what circles you should create. e.g. in my case, on intimacy level there's friends to barely chatted once in some online form. Friends are in quite diverse group too. (beer friends, child-hood friends but not friendly friends, life-death friends, platonic friends, girl/boy friends, etc.) Then, the community and context you know them are diverse too. e.g. me, some are from the Second Life community, some are programing/emacs community, some are math professors. Some RL situation. If you just adopt the default circles g+ provided: {friends, family, acquaintances, following}, that's wholly inadequate that one might just as well abandon the circle idea. If you do try to create the circles and put people in the right one, it's extremely time consuming to manage and inflexible. Hard to change when relationship grows or changes.

googleplus circle management
Googleplus circle management. Source: Joey DeVilla

PS add me on g+ here http://gplus.to/xah

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