This morning there's just a bit of buzz surrounding a code discovery made by a fellow named Florian Rohrweck, a fellow who apparently spends his day reading the back ends of webpages instead of the front ends like everyone else in the world. This fellow has had solid information as well as conjecture about what "Google Circles" is and will be in the future more than once, his latest set of words coming with a discovery of the word Circles found several times in profiles.google.com - "Show people who have added you to circles" being quite an atom bomb in the fight for recognition of the mystical ghost of a project. Thus far the Google Circles project has had no official confirmation from the big Gs themselves, but comments here and there have appeared. Let's have a bit of a conversation on what it could mean for YOU.
First, before we go any further, let's talk about a job listing that was posted very recently and is still up in Google's Jobs site, as seen here. This job listing calls for a Product Manager for an upcoming Google gaming platform which at the moment says it will be called Games at Google. This listing calls for rather general terms, wishing for a person deeply familiar with gaming, able to assist in determining technical implementation of methods and so on and so forth. Take this listing, the face that it'll be driving discovery, player identity, and game mechanics, and store that information away for later.
Next lets have a look at the code bits this Rohrweck has found - as seen above. This code was, again, found on profiles.google.com and has since been taken down. What this means, first of all, is that Google does not want this code to be seen. Second, what it COULD mean is that Circles was a project in the past but is no longer, the code simply left on the page accidentally. Having built more than one rather terribly constructed webpages in the past, I can tell you firsthand that forgetting to delete some useless code is not only possible, it's MUCH more likely than most other scenarios. What this code appears to do or appears to have done is plain: it allows you to see how your Circles-connected friends are interacting with your profile.
There's another bit that may be connected to Circles that was tipped back in March: a project called Google Me that was supposed to appear at Google I/O 2011 but never came to fruiting. Google Me has been talked about for months before this newest false appearance, having popped up back in July of 2010 as a social gaming construct, for example. Does this tie the name Google Me to the job listing above?
Then there's +1, a project that appears to have been in the works for quite a while as well, appearing now as an active project - see it up there near the title of this post? Just click it and see! Have a look back, also, at November 30th, 2010 and see how the project, or whatever this new social project was at the time, was tied to Google Wave, which if you remember was the reason why ex-Google Lars Rasmussen, who left the company for Facebook, described the work environment at the time as being quite non-agreeable. He described a workplace where he “[had a] debate over whether a border should be 3, 4, or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. I can’t operate in an environment like that.”
Then there's the June 13th report by the same man who found the most recent Circles code. Rohrweck describes what he'd found at that point regarding Circles to be the following:
Google Circles isn't so much a social network, it is more of a "contact/group management" system that lets you control which information you want to share with who.
Like: Family, Friends, Coworkers, Followers and so on. That's circles... nothing more and nothing less.
This situation is confirmed, in a sort of sideways manner, by a couple of social communications from around March of 2011. First, according to Liz Gannes of AllThingsD, a Tweet was tweeted by Tim O'Reilly in response to a report that was later sideways-denied by Google on RWW which described Circles as a
"service will offer photo, video and status message sharing. Everything users share on Circles will be shared only with the most appropriate circle of social contacts in their lives, not with all your contacts in bulk.
The tweeted response by Tim O'Reilly read "I’ve seen google circles, and it looks awesome,” but was later deleted, replaced by an email to Liz Gannes of AllThingsD that read:
“It’s not a product, per se, and it’s not a new social network. Just some research-y thinking about how you could better manage social data. Exactly what Chris said. I got fooled by the RWW story into thinking that they’d turned it into something they were going to announce. There’s no story here. Just some labs stuff.”
So what the heck does all this mean?
It means, if you ask me, that Google Circles is a name of a project that might be released in the future that furthers the social connectivity options a person has with their Google account. You've already got a Google account if you've signed up for Gmail or if you've ever downloaded an app from the Android Market. More than likely this will be the same account you'll be using to move further into the world Google is preparing for you, one we're currently only able to call Google Circles.
It's got a nice ring to it, wouldn't you say? I hope they keep it.