What I’ve really been up to: The Google+ Project

So, I can finally tell you all what it is I’ve been working on in so much secret. For the past few months, I’ve had the honor of being chief architect for Google’s social systems, and today we launched the Google Plus Project at last. This isn’t a final thing — as its name implies, it’s going to be evolving and improving very rapidly. As the news stories say, the purpose is to make sharing more social; to make it match the way we actually relate to our friends in the world. And it has some amazing other features, like Hangouts, Huddles and Sparks, which just make it lots of fun to work with.

To find out more, check out our blog post, or this news story, which I think really got it. And of course, visit google.com/+ to find out more.

Published in: on June 28, 2011 at 11:04  Comments (21)  
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  1. Looks like a great product – I wish you the best of luck in this tricky space. (I’m also glad to see what could be real competition for the F-book – they could certainly use some.)

    BTW, how long before I can “circle” you? 😉

    • Real soon now. 🙂

      • Is that for all orgs or google.com specifically? ratha.com can’t play yet…

        • Is what for all orgs? Google+?

  2. Hey old friend,

    This is well and great! I really enjoy the idea of Circles, Huddles, collaboration, etc. The 10^10 Gorilla in the room is of course Privacy as it relates to Google’s advertising model. Certainly people are already asking this question elsewhere and certainly you and your team have prepared some answers. What can you share with me about this?

    Please don’t misunderstand my intentions. I’m still a Google fanboy and a proud user of most of your Apps and owner of a high-powered Android device. I do have concerns though… as I know you would as well.

    Congratulations on your new(ish) position and your hard work on what is obviously a very cool project! It looks wonderful!

    • That’s a great question and I’m glad you’re asking it – privacy was, quite seriously, the primary focus of the team when we were building this. That’s really what circles are for: you can have precise control over who sees what. You can share with your friends without worrying about what your co-workers or future employers see; you can share with your church without worrying that you’re spamming other people.

      As far as how privacy ties in to the advertising model, I’d encourage you to check out the terms of service, but they basically say something sane: we take your privacy seriously, and have very tight controls over who can see your data and when, and over letting you get out of things you don’t want to be in. The Google Privacy Dashboard (google.com/dashboard) is the place to start to find out and change what Google knows about you.

      Please, let me know if you have any questions at all about this – if privacy isn’t something you can really rely on in this service, we are doing something wrong and need to fix it.

      • “you can share with your church without worrying that you’re spamming other people”

        LOL – so noted. 😉


        Thanks for your quick response! I think the big question that we’re dancing around here is “who are you selling or planning to sell which parts of my identifiable data to?” I realize that the official G company line is always going to be “nobody because we don’t sell anything that’s identifiable.” The full truth though is often somewhere in-between.

        I’ll browse through the suggested resources (it’s been a few months since I’ve visited the privacy dashboard) and see what’s new and what is explained.

        Obviously as I’m already on FB and many other far less trustworthy places, I don’t actually care THAT much. 😉

  3. Very cool! I’ll have to look into that some more, especially since I’m so anti-Facebook these days. (Of course, I’m trusting you guys not to do the same thing that turned me off FB, which is to promise that I get to decide who I share stuff with, and then later you share it with everybody and tell me I have to opt out to stop you. But I know where you live, so. 🙂 )

    • Yeah, changing policies like that really isn’t an option. Once you set access controls on something like a post, those stay forever. Really, seriously, forever.

      • Interesting!

        I get that at some point you have to trust the company you give your data to. The thing that limits the amount of life I put online is worrying about protecting my data from an evil future version of *you*. LJ gets bought by Tsup, Facebook is Facebook. Data is persistent, and data that is meant to be shared is hard to control. And what’s more, for profit based social media need to make money somehow, and a user is more product than customer.

        So I’m not sure exactly what you mean by access controls that are around forever. What about Evil!Yonatan? How are you guys protecting us from yourselves?

        Don’t get me wrong, I trust Google more than FB, and I’m on FB, but it’s a question I have about the whole social media model.

  4. Congrats!

    May you get to take a nice vacation and/or sabbatical at some point. 🙂

    • I’d settle for a full night of sleep at this point. 🙂

  5. O thank goodness. I’ve been wanting a better social-hub tool for some time.

  6. I’m excited you worked on this.

    One of my frustrations with FB has been its lack of features for easily building and maintaining friend lists, as well as an inability to quickly target wall posts to specific groups. (It’s even more cumbersome than livejournal) It looks like Google+ may have addressed that well.

    By the way, do you have any extra invite codes? I’m very interested in trying it.

    • No invite codes yet; we’re still in limited field trials. We’ll be out to more users Soon.

  7. Excited about what you guys created there. I really don’t like FB because they have no “circles”.

    PS: you really should add Google OpenID to login for comments 😉

  8. hey a bunch of other physicists and I over here think it would be really neat if MathML were incorporated into the Stream.

  9. […] Yonatan Zunber, who revealed on his blog that over the past few months that he was the chief architect for Google’s social systems, including Google Plus, is one of the inventors listed on a number of the patents.Just how are the […]

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