I joined two new human networking sites today. One was LinkedIn, a professional networking site. The other was Google+, a social networking site. The contrast was very interesting; I used this post's userpic for both, but I found virtually everything else different between the two sites.
I was very impressed with LinkedIn. In particular, handling of - even just recognition of the importance of - degrees of separation between strangers seems a useful innovation. The concept of using introductions to meet such strangers also seems particularly apt. LinkedIn seems to be a networking site that actually facilitates networking, where most social networking sites seem to facilitate only communication with people one already knows.
Google+, in contrast, doesn't seem fundamentally innovative. Supposedly the availability of customizable circles is an advance over Facebook, but we've had those for ages here on LiveJournal. It doesn't seem to have customizable cuts, and generally seems designed more for posts of tweet length than for longer, more thoughtful posts - perhaps a good decision for the majority, but not something that makes me want to leave LiveJournal. Its strength is in the implementation; for the features it does have, the interface is very intuitive and very fast - a big improvement over LiveJournal's crufty interface.
The contrast makes me wonder - are professional and social circles that different, that the appropriate networking mechanisms are so different? Or is there an unfilled niche for a social networking site that actually emphasizes networking over socialization? Is there some combination that could combine the best features of both, or are they really moe appropriate for separate applications?
I think there's still some significant evolution to come in the social web.
I think Google+ (and Facebook before it) are trying to be easier than LJ. I don't know why, but many people are afraid of LJ; they think that they have to write erudite essays and that they're just not good enough.
I like that Google+ makes it easy for me to separate posts by which circle made them. There's also a "following" thing where you can see someone's posts without them having to acknowledge a relationship with you--sort of like friending someone on LJ without them friending you back. I think Twitter has that?
There is a "filter" drop down on the LiveJournal friends page that allows one to see only a subset of posts. Of course, the process of setting up filters is far more painful than Google's easy drag and drop - but that's where Google's implementation resources come into play. And yes, I've friended several people on LiveJournal that I don't expect to friend me back just because they sometimes have interesting posts. I would probably agree that Google+ is an advance over Facebook in those respects - unless those features are part of what ends up driving many people away from LiveJournal and to Facebook.
By the way, what's the deal with giving people invites on Google+? Does that capability get turned on and off at random, or do I have to do something special to be allowed to send out an invite?
In https://plus.google.com/ , I see a "send invites" thing in the right-hand pane, towards the bottom. For some reason you're not showing up in my list of people I can connect to. Are you using your alum email address? Or you could add me using my gmail address, assuming you know it, and then I think I can add you back.
That's the invite link I was using. It wasn't working last night - no action when I hit the "invite" button after the pop up came up - but it worked just now.
I'm not sure what you mean by a list of people you can connect to, but I searched on your real name and added you to my Google+ friends circle; maybe that will help. I am using my aol address if it matters.