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Google+: Reshaping Social Networking

Google’s social networking venture, Google+, is all about networks.  It’s basic function is obviously very similar to Facebook, and even LinkedIn, but the way Google+ was started and designed is very unique in my mind – and a great example of the triadic closure property, as well as balanced and unbalanced connections.

Although I don’t fully agree with the triadic closure property (mainly because it assumes all connections are mutual), Google+ is a great exercise in the theory.  For one, the way Google+ started was with a few users gaining access, who then had the ability to invite a few more people, and so on and so forth.  I was one of the early users of Google+, and predictably I used my allotted invites to connect myself with other nodes that I have a strong relationship with.  As time passed, the people I invited began adding their own friends, many of which I also knew.  As the connections became less and less direct, there were fewer nodes that I had strong connections with, but even now the vast majority of people recommended to me I recognize in some fashion.

Google+ further exemplifies this principle in its actual design, employing an organizational tool called Circles.  By using Circles you can easily organize your friends into groups, effectively turning the triadic closures into a much larger group – such as hometown friends, family, acquaintances, or university friends – which can in turn have strong or weak relations with your other groups. The circles also allow you to organize positive and negative relationships if you so choose, and thereby create a spectrum to analyze balanced and unbalanced relationships.

Because of the way Google+ allows you to connect to people and keep your networks organized, the social site has hit 50 million users now, and had a 1269% increase in traffic from the week before (Gizmodo).  This kind of staggering growth is attributable to how easy Google has made it to expand your personal network and keep both your strong and weak relationships intact and organized.


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