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Why Google's "circles" are likely to fail
By Dave Winer on Friday, July 01, 2011 at 9:47 AM.

I write a lot. More than most. And I've been doing it for a long time.  #

I have good tools that allow me a lot of flexibility over user interface. And I have a lot of time to tinker. #

I have a hard time finding things. It would be great if everything were in its proper place. If it all were, or even just most of it, I might be able to turn all this writing into a book.  #

So I have an incentive to get organized.  #

In 2003, I did a project called Channel Z. Its goal was to build a blogging tool that made it easy to categorize stuff. So easy, that I would actually do it. And if I did it, maybe I could figure out how to get other people to do it. #

I'm the kind of guy who likes to categorize things. I made a tool, an outliner, a long time ago that makes doing that very easy. I still use the outliner to this day, and love it, and I keep finding new ways to use it to be more organized. With excellent results.  #

A picture named circles.gifOkay, so how did the whole categorizing blog posts thing turn out? It was a bust. I would start out with a burst of energy but then get busy with something more interesting, and would never go back to it. #

Being stubborn, I hacked some more to make it even easier. Came up with the idea of a text router, a right-click menu that instantaneously categorized the bit of text I'm pointing to. Couldn't be easier. Right-click, choose a category, save. Boom. #

I had a rush of a few days when I was categorizing like a mad man. Showing everyone "Look I cracked the nut, it works!" #

Only to find out that a week later -- drum roll please -- I was no longer doing it. #

Dan Bricklin explained it as follows. "Instead of making you feel bad for 'only' doing 99%, a well designed system makes you feel good for doing 1%." #

Once you fail to do it, that's it. You'll never do it again. #

So apply that to Circles. You might feel a rush to organize your friends into categories when you start to use it. But you'll give up after a dozen or so, as soon as you hit one that defies categorization. You'll say to yourself "I'll come back to this later." You won't. #

From then on, you'll have a guilty feeling every time you think of it. And you'll check Twitter and Facebook which you can use without categorizing people.  #

Again, I'd love to be proven wrong. Maybe Google hired a team of crack psychologists and found the secret sauce that makes people get over this hump. We'll see soon enough. #

Christmas Tree
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