The introduction of Google+ has brought renewed interest in two kinds of conversations:
- grouping people
- filtering content
The first one helps you classify relationships for the purposes of scaling context-based communications.
The new social network was a breath a fresh air for many who, like me, had spent several years in other networks, meeting the same people everywhere. I chuckle every time I receive an invitation to connect on LinkedIn from people with whom I talk on Twitter or on the blog's Facebook page.
Do we really need to be joined at the hip?
The reason why my settings vary depending on the network is that I use them differently. If we haven't met in person and established a business or professional baseline, how could I ever connect you with one of my contacts on LinkedIn, for example?
The second takes care of topical focus. I think we can all agree that there is plenty of information online. The problem has become finding what we need, when we need it. My answer for this part is to publish in different forms, keeping this blog as my base, and syndicating feeds from other publishers.
Because of my many interests, I find it easier to classify content than I do people.
Relationships and connections
Even though our networks continue to evolve and people move up and down different groups depending on different stages of our lives, work projects, or situations, whether we do it online or not, we still build lists and we well aware of who is top of mind, when, and why.
Friends and interests do come and go. When I'm preparing for a trip to Europe, I make sure I start paying more attention to what my Italian circle of friends and colleagues is doing -- and I can do that across networks and outposts, based upon where they hang out.
What do I use to get in touch and make plans? Either email or phone. So there is a jump off point. Connections happen in real life, which is why emails, phone calls, or in person meetings are (still) the best conversion tools.
Is it the same for you?
Filters and content
After years of writing on this site, I find it much easier to hone in and focus the content I produce and publish. This is also due to the work I'm doing around building a job.
As I gravitate more fully to what has now clearly become my mission: To help businesses build platforms that make them stronger, more resilient, and enduring, the stuff I do must create value, build momentum, and add performance.
Which is why I resonate with the right people.
I do exactly the opposite as a learner. Because knowledge is in a continuous state of flux, being changed in stream(s), my reading, which has always been pretty high volume, has gone up exponentially. It has also shifted to many more topics.
In addition to Google Reader, which I clean up and adjust based upon both serendipity and discovery as well as deliberate search, I listen with soft ears in all social networks. Which means that I'm open to what shows up in there.
Whenever I join a new network, like Google+, I look to meet new people. Usually they are subject matter experts in topics where I may not know a whole lot. These were my Friday+ five from this past week, for example.
Filters work much better when you combine your activity as publisher with tweaking your preferences as reader/learner. G+ provided the answer I found so useful on FriendFeed to fine tune what comes through my stream: The ability to easily mute posts.
It's not perfect yet, a few very prolific users are on hold and not in my stream because the network is not big enough to bear their volume yet, and it is a manual process so far.
The fact that we're having these conversation at this level of increased granularity demonstrates maturity in the space. I'm interested in business viability along with utility.
What's your take? What do you find hardest? How do you reconcile meeting new people and finding new content with the limitations of having only so much time and attention to give?
[graphic from content sharing study commissioned by Aol/Nielsen Media]