Plenty has been written about Google+ lately and one of the most common remarks seems to be “it is just like Facebook”. And I can’t blame anyone for saying that, in some regards it’s uncanny. But there’s a very important difference, which may have a crucial impact. Circles are not friendships.
When you friend somebody on Facebook, friendships are symmetrical relationships: you get to see what they share and vice-versa. The circles model of Google+ is more like Twitter: you can follow someone (and share content to them), but there’s no obligation for them to follow your activity. Not interested? Don’t listen! Like Twitter, Google+ has an asymmetrical relationship model.
This could be a good thing or unmanageably complex. I for one have always preferred the way Twitter organizes things. In that regard I can only welcome Google+: let’s get some healthy competition going!