To employ a tired cliché, there are many ways to use Google+ as the number of users, but I recently floated an idea here on this site and on my Google+ Stream with a few Circles that it can perhaps be used as a kind of blogging platform (see Using Google+ as a blogging platform?). It generated an informative discussion on this issue in my Google+ Stream, and it led me to think a bit more on how to use Google+.
To give a short background, I have never been a particularly frequent or ardent user of Facebook and other social networking sites. To put it bluntly, I never really grasped the concept or got the point. For that reason, I am gingerly testing the grounds with Google+.
The greatest advantage of Google+ for me is the existence of the Circles. I can choose to share a certain thing with a certain group of people, or even share the same thing separately with different groups of people. The latter needs to be done somewhat carefully, since if a person is in two Circles then there is a possibility that he or she will see multiple posts of the same material. That potential problem aside, it is possible to group people effectively.
Some things can be best understood or appreciated by a small number of people. At other times, different groups will have different opinions on the issues. I think it’s fair to say that we all have different types of friends, acquaintances, colleagues and contacts. With some of whom we’d be happy to discuss certain topics such as politics and religion (or lack thereof), but not with others. In a public-private division, we can’t really pick and mix, and per-post control offered by Facebook for example does not really create a continuing community of shared posts and ideas. Google+ allows a per-post control based on Circles that can be stable but also dynamic: in other words, when a thing is shared to a certain group, a Circle, discussions can continue to grow over that and subsequent posts, while the membership to Circles can be regulated easily, so that new people can be added to the existing discussion seamlessly.
Instead of using Google+ as a kind of blog, I’m minded to use it as a sounding board for ideas. I often write here, on my site, publicly without much thinking or critical process, but there is a stage even before that, when I’m trying to articulate the barest of my thoughts. I often need prompting or input from another person who can see things from an alternative perspective, and the intimate and safe environment fostered by the cohesive groups (Circles) is the ideal place to start such a process.