Notes in the Margin

On the intersection of web apps, digital content and social media

Archive for the ‘Platforms’ Category

Segmenting Communications: Facebook vs. Google Plus

There’s been a lot of interest in Google Plus’s “Circles” feature over the past month. It seems to present a more sophisticated and nuanced ability to manage communications and relationships.

In Google Plus, you don’t just “friend” someone like you do in Facebook (a relationship that, like a LinkedIn connection, must be reciprocal), nor do you exactly “follow” them like you do in Twitter (which is not necessarily reciprocal).

Instead, in Google Plus you find someone and put them in a Circle. This has the same effect as following them on Twitter: that person’s posts will appear in your general stream, as well as the stream of posts for that circle.

And, like Twitter, the connection need not be reciprocal: if the other person does not add you to one of his/her circles, then your posts will not be included in their general stream. There is a place they can go, however, that will include posts from people who have encircled them: “Incoming”.

It seemed that this “Circles” approach uniquely enabled better segmentation of one’s connections and relationships, so that for example if you have something technically-oriented to post, you don’t need to intrude upon the notice of, say, your family. You just post it to a circle you may have create called, “Geeks”, and members of the circle called “Family” will not see the post (unless you have family members who are also geeks).

It turns out that the Circles capability in Google Plus isn’t new, it’s just promoted and designed better than the corresponding capability in Facebook. In fact, you could argue that Facebook allows better segmentation than Google Plus – if you can find it.

In Facebook there are two ways to segment your posts, and similarly filter the posts you receive:

  • You can create groups in Facebook and invite friends to join. You can also just add friends to a group without their consent (though they can leave the group). In this case, posts to the group appear on the wall of group members only. You can even make private or secret groups to prevent non group members from finding those posts.
  • Lists are actually pretty powerful in Facebook, and I suspect underused. You can create your own list of friends (lists aren’t shared, nor are they visible to your friends).

To filter your wall feed to show only updates from a particular list, click on the “Most Recent” dropdown at the top of the News Feed, and you’ll see the ability to choose from one of your lists.

You can also filter your posts so they’re visible only to specific lists. To do this, click on the status update box (“What’s on your mind”), and you’ll see the image of a lock, which is a drop down where you can select who sees the post. To select a particular friend, or a list of friends, click the “Customize” option.

So using lists ends up working very much like Google Circles, it just requires a little more effort. In fact, Facebook goes one step further: when you customize who will see your posts, you can also explicitly exclude friends or lists of friends.  A perfect approach for college students whose parents have friended them.


Written by tstaley

August 2, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Posted in Platforms, Social Web

David Pogue – Buzzing, Tweeting and Carping –

David Pogue is great – here he explains why Buzz has been elusive to me, and really not worth the effort.

In eliminating the Twitterish bare-bones simplicity, Google stepped right splat into the opposite problem: dizzying complexity. At the moment, it’s not so much Google Buzz as Google “Huh?”s.

I kept thinking it was me – maybe I’m just not savvy enough when it comes to social media – people under the age of 25 might be all over this. But, as Pogue explains, the UI and usage model are awkward and Byzantine (respectively).

He does point out that, being a web property, it can evolve quickly and Google is actively working on it. Many changes have already appeared in the first week alone.

That, and because it’s Google, leads me to disagree with only one statement in his article, the first line of the last paragraph:

Buzz probably won’t make much of a dent in Facebook or Twitter or FriendFeed.

I’m thinking that Buzz is going to big big. And that’s not just reflexive Google genuflecting. I’ve been playing with Wave for a while, and I think that’ll need an overhaul before it becomes relevant. But Buzz is baked into GMail, and that’s big. The GMail UI won’t win any prizes in its own right, yet it still has tens of millions of users. We’ll all figure out Buzz,and Google will refine it to make it easier. Yep – it’ll be big.

State of the Art – Buzzing, Tweeting and Carping –

Written by tstaley

February 18, 2010 at 11:02 am

Posted in Platforms, Social Web

HTML and Flash Thoughts | Ryan Stewart

HTML and Flash Thoughts | Ryan Stewart

Thoughtful post about Flashes challenges, from an Adobe Evangelist.His particular concerns are: poor browser integration (ever tried to hit ctrl-F in a Flash app?) and the issue that “Flash is horrible when it comes to the semantic web,” particularly in the areas of deep-linking (direct access to a portion of a Flash app by bookmark or link) and search engine optimization (enabling search engines to find content that are delivered via Flash).

This latter (SEO) is tricky, because Flash applications are often merely shells through which content is delivered: that is, as with desktop apps, the content that is accessible via Flash does not actually reside in the app itself, but is retrieved from an XML store or database somewhere else.

If his company listens to him, and he opinion does carry weight internally, perhaps Adobe will address these shortcomings.

Written by tstaley

February 15, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Posted in Platforms

AT&T and Others Announcing Rival to Apple App Store

AT&T and Others Announcing Rival to Apple App Store.

On the other hand, maybe this news will force Apple’s hand on Flash. Will there be scenarios where users go to the new cross-device app store and find a Flash/AIR app they want, and choose or switch their device as a result? Probably not but it will at least give Adobe the opportunity (should they rise to the challenge) to display an array of their platform’s apps.

Written by tstaley

February 15, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Platforms

Adobe Flash and AIR Coming Soon to Android

Adobe Flash and AIR Coming Soon to Android (Mashable)

More interesting even than Flash is the fact that AIR is coming to Android. A larger footprint, so more of a technical challenge, but it will bring more substantive cross-platform apps to the phone.

However, it’s doubtful that this news will budge Apple, who seems fully entrenched in its anti-Flash stance. A stand-off on which the future of Adobe may ultimately hinge.

More on this topic in a couple other timely articles today:

Written by tstaley

February 15, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Posted in Online Apps, Platforms