The criticism we're seeing of Google+ Circles is kinda funny to me:

Circles sound like a good idea on paper but in reality they don't work. Why? Two main reasons. One, because people cannot digitally organize their friends by interest. And two, even if you could nobody talks about that same interest constantly and nothing else.

Why is it funny?

1) Because Google+ hasn't even gotten out of the "by invitation only" phase yet.

If there's one thing you hear more often on Google+ than criticisms of Circles, it's that Google is listening carefully to feedback and will be making adjustments. Surely they'll be tweaking Circles to solve these problems.

A few of the possibilities that have been suggested:

  • Allow tagging of content and filtering out tags (eg. if you don't want to read Joe's "personal" posts, you could block them, while still seeing your mom's "personal" posts).
  • Allow people to subscribe to "public" Circles instead of requiring the publisher to categorize everyone. (I seriously wonder about people when they announce their list of interest-based Circles to their followers, and ask everyone which they want to be in. They're just asking for a lot of extra work that Google's almost certainly going to make unnecessary.)

2) Because if you look at the default Circles that Google gives you when you join, you'll see that they're NOT based on interests. They're based on relationships.

The #1 purpose of Circles as they now are is to enable you to limit who can see non-public content, and to reduce the "noise" you put into people's streams.

If people aren't using them this way -- if we're all posting everything publicly -- that's mainly because early adopters are using Google+ mostly for business networking. Our friends and family haven't arrived, so of course we're not posting strictly-personal stuff yet.

Reader Comment:
Antone Roundy said:
Dr. Mani asked his G+ followers to indicate which of his Circles they'd like to be in. It didn't work out the way he planned...but if Google fixes Circles, as I believe they will, it shouldn't matter:
(join the conversation below)

It's true that Google didn't get Circles perfect right out of the gate. But it's a great start. And with some minor tweaks, it'll be the killer app that it looks like "on paper".