I’m loving Google+, admittedly in part because it isn’t Facebook, but also for its simple structure and usefulness with underlying power and great design. I particularly like the idea of circles, where you can group friends and coworkers separately, which is something Facebook has resolutely dissed.

The Google logo for circles shows two overlapping circles and one smaller island circle, suggesting a powerful venn diagram. The reality of Google+ is you can put individuals into more than one circle to create overlap and have small groups like the islands, but there is no visual way of seeing the venn diagram of your connections. I’m fine with this, but I hope to see a mashup soon that shows the connections in a visual way.

My problem is the lack of managed inner venn diagrams, or hierarchy of circles. For example, I’d like to have an outer “Family” circle, where there is an inner circle of “Immediate Family” and all others are by definition “Extended Family”. I might also have another within the “Family” circle who are “Local Family Members”, and possibly a few other specialized cuts. If I wanted to have some family photo available to all extended family I just select the outer most Family group and I’d be done. This should be done by putting the “Immediate Family” circle itself into the “Family” circle.

You can create a circle for each of these groups and put people in them. When you post you can multi-select the groups, although it would be nice to select an outer “Family”. The problem is when you are filtering your stream you can either show all groups or pick an individual one circle, not a collection of “Family” circles. I don’t really want to cycle through my sub-family groups, I want to pick all my family groups at once.

You can kind of do this with the Google+ method, where you throw all  immediate family into the circles “Immediate Family”, “Local Family”, and “Extended Family”, local family into just the second two circles, and extended family into just the outer “Extended Family” circle. So a circle can be completely within another circle, but it is managed by you and the naming conventions, and it isn’t visually apparent.

I can live with this flat group model for circles, but there isn’t a way to re-sequence my groups. They appear in the order you create them and that’s it, in all locations – where you define them, where you pick the circles to see your posts, and for filtering. I can’t cluster my “Family” circles together making the Google+ way even more of an issue for power users.

Google has gone with an overly simple model, possibly because Facebook has said that managing groups of friends is too hard for the user, possibly because they are educating the user base and taking it one step at a time, or possibly because they feel this is sufficiently powerful and the the right level. I feel I’ve already outgrown what they have, and soon the general user population might feel that way too. If users got a taste of the power of an ad-hoc hierarchical grouped network I think they’d be hooked too.

(This may be redundant very soon if not already – but if you need a Google+ invite let me know).