Sharing information on the Web has become one of the resonant tenets of social media. The latest iteration: the Google+project, seems very promising in part because it aims to make sharing easier and intuitive on what could best be described as a more open and granular level of control.
The idea behind Google+’s ‘sharing circles’ for instance (inspired by real-life circles of friends, I would gather) builds on the idea that people crave more sophisticated filtering tools over what and, more importantly, with whom we’re sharing our bits.
On some levels the Google+ project answers a few of the glaring deficiencies and limitations other social networks seem unable or unwilling to fill.
Twitter for example does not provide an effective means to filter precisely who among your follower list receives a Tweet. You can send individual DMs to followers, but when you Tweet it just gets broadcast out to everyone who follows you—and the entire Web for that matter. I’m willing to bet Kenneth Cole and more recently Jim Redner and his infamous Tweet responding to negative reviews of Duke Nukem Forever, wish they had a Tweet filter at their disposal.
Filtering really only comes into play when you create ‘follow lists’ for incoming Tweets (people you follow) which, if anything, becomes invaluable if the number of people you follow exceeds several hundred or more. But to my knowledge, there aren’t any 3rd party Twitter apps or tools that allow you to selectively filter outgoing Tweets.
On Tumblr the addictive ‘reblog’ feature, as its name implies, allows you to republish post(s) published by one person to your entire network of followers or whoever stumbles across your Tumblog. Yet try reblogging to a select few—say, a small group of work colleagues or strictly to your immediate circle of friends and you’re out of luck.
Tumblr’s reblog, just like many other forms of sharing on the Web, goes out en masse with little to no filtering controls in place.
Facebook of course has a rudimentary set of filtering tools that enable you to select individuals among your friends list receiving specific status updates you’ve posted. You can also block status updates appearing from certain people. Perhaps you’re interested in limiting your exposure to status updates of the nauseatingly trivial variety. These are great tools but unfortunately represent the extent of Facebook’s current vision for user/sharing empowerment. Not to mention Facebook requires you to accept every friend before the sharing can begin. Not the most “open” environment when you think about it.
In any case sharing on the Web seems poised to evolve over the next few years and will likely become much more personalized and natural requiring less effort. If the established social networks are any indication, we’re going to see greater emphasis on collaboration and personal security—or exactly the things Facebook and Twitter neglect to implement or do well.