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BLOG: Google announces social sharing done right

Mike Elgan | July 2, 2012
The upcoming Google+ History will prepare your content for sharing, but holds it in a private space until you choose to share it.

Let's say you use Foursquare and read your favorite tech publication -- the one you're reading now. And let's also say you authenticate these services with Google+ History.

It's Saturday morning. You go to a Starbucks and check in on Foursquare. Then you use your tablet to read an article like the one you're reading now. You're fascinated by this brilliant Mike Elgan guy, and you want to tell your friends on Google+.

So you fire up Google+ and there already waiting for you are both actions, which Google calls "moments": The check-in and the article.

These are sitting on top of an incredibly long list of past "moments" from the apps you've authenticated to work with Google+ History.

Instead of opening a blank window to write a post, you simply choose "Share" from a drop-down menu on the article "moment."

Google+ History will put a thumbnail photo from the originating site, plus a link to that content and a summary. In other words, it will build the basic Google+ post for you. Then you can write an additional sentence or two and click a button to share it.

Of course, you'll choose not to share the Starbucks check-in from Foursquare because, really, who gives a flying frappuccino that you were at Starbucks?

Why 'friction' is good

Google+ History sounds great because it essentially guesses what you might want to post, creates the posts for you with more and better details than you might add to a post yourself, and presents the posts, ready to go, in case you want to share them.

In other words, it makes certain types of Google+ posts better, and it gives you a quick and easy way to share them.

Also: The unpublished, unfiltered version of your "History" provides you with an amazing, ongoing but private record of your life. If you authenticate enough services, you could end up with an incredible "lifestream" of all your activity, even if you never share any of it.

The Google+ History API is the kinder, gentler alternative to Facebook's Open Graph API.

To oversimplify the difference between these APIs: Facebook's Open Graph enables any app or service to post content to a user's Facebook profile (with one-time permission by the user), while Google+ History enables those services to prepare content to be posted, should the user choose to do so.

Facebook's "frictionless sharing" idea via the Open Graph API involves social apps that automatically inform family and friends when you read something, listen to a song or take some other action.

Users are often embarrassed or humiliated by "frictionless sharing," as they broadcast to everyone that they've read some prurient article or watched some racy video or worse -- say, listened to a Justin Bieber song. This can go on for weeks, until someone awkwardly points out what they've been "sharing."


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