Google+ Circles? More Like a Hole

hole in ground Google+ Circles? More Like a HoleThis is a guest post by Brooklyn-based writer,  editor, and programmer Paul Ford, originally published on his blog,

People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You’re a nerd. Explain it immediately.

I know it’s confusing. But this is their competitor to Facebook basically. Except you can list your friends. That’s the circles. But it’s easier to remember if you call them holes. Like I could have a friend hole and an acquaintance hole and a K-hole. And they give you a list of friends and you stuff them in the hole, like Silence of the Lambs, except you are sending them images and text messages and hanging out with them on video chats. One of the things that can happen, according to the press, is that you can, if you are very lucky, talk with one of the founders of Google, because he’s hanging out using the service too. And you can ask him about user experience, and show him your cat. Which sounds horrifying, like having to pee next to Steve Jobs or playing touch football with Arnold Schwarzenegger. People rich enough to place phone calls to order bodily organs, people who can afford to hide families, make me nervous. The only thing they could want me for is harvesting.

Anyway, the new thing from the Gootch makes it really easy to sort people into the holes, which is good, because this lets you divide people into clusters and lie to each group in different ways, which makes it easier to preserve the fictions that make up our polite racist society. And it looks pretty sweet and works well so far, which probably means that there will be a huge battle-in-earnest between the Gootch and the Books, between Circles and Friends. For example, I don’t know if you saw this but according to the New York Times Mark Zuckerberg is taking walks in the woods with people he’d like to hire. If he really wants you to work for him he takes you for a walk in the woods. It’s gotten that serious. And this is a responsibility of a well-educated American, to think about Mark Zuckerberg taking walks in the woods with multiple unnamed sources.

First, this means that there is a class of employees who were taken for walks in the woods and class that wasn’t. That’s how that stuff shakes out. “Haha,” someone texts or comments, “sure we went for a walk in the woods, it’s amazing that someone is thinking to talk about that in a national newspaper,” but in their secret heart they are thinking, “I am woodsworthy.”

No one has yet come forth and said that they have not taken a walk with Mark Zuckerberg, perhaps because they are ashamed–but there is also the distinct possibility that it is Zuckerberg’s goal in life to take a walk with absolutely everyone on earth, and that’s all that Facebook (which now has nearly 43 times as many users as there are unemployed people in the USA) is actually for.

Now that this article has appeared there will have to be even more thought given at Facebook HQ as to who gets a walk in the woods, because now everyone knows that a walk in the woods is a thing. I plugged the current scenario into the spreadsheet I use to determine things and came up with two likely outcomes: (1) People will go back in the woods and build a cave just out of phone reception range and install a hermit, and everyone will go back and look at the hermit, who is not connected to anything, from time to time, and say, “Makes you think, doesn’t it?” Or (2) Most Dangerous Game. In this scenario one sunny day you’re working on low-level NoSQL projects at the Gootch or wherever, and you get an email from Facebook and you go for the interview and Zuckerberg is talking about scaling PHP and suddenly pauses, gets this look in his eye, pulls his hoodie over his head and says “You have sixty seconds. You should be running.” Because engineers, as we are often reminded, are the ultimate prey.

In conclusion, Groupon.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Yeah I stuffed everyone in a hole and I don’t know what I got for it.  I really really want to do it again from my fake name, just like Google.  Because of the reposting.  Was this killing Twitter, of Facebook, I forgot…

    1. Nitasha Tiku says:

      You gots to diversify your holes. I am waiting for the social doomsday when Google accidentally makes public what you call your holes and who you put in them.

      1. Anonymous says:

        If that were quoted by Google out of context, it would not go well for you :) /manic’ed

      2. Nitasha Tiku says:

        It was a little Daily Intel throwback special.

      3. Mingus Ah Um says:

        I would…every hole.

  2. langer says:

    Good lord this is good. So so good.

    1. Ben Popper says:

      Langer, I want you in my K-Hole

      1. Nitasha Tiku says:

        Ben, I think I’m going to have to flag your comment.

  3. marty says:

    Low down as in lowest common denominator of understanding….

  4. Aaron says:


    I think you’re missing something important.

    I can add anyone to a circle without them confirming friendship. This means I can “follow” a celebrity or brand without them doing anything.  That person can in turn broadcast public content and I’ll see it in my stream.   That person can also choose to broadcast more personal info to an inner circle which I don’t see.

    Circles are not all about categorizing friends and family as you say.  It’s about giving both parties control.

    Even if facebook makes “lists” easier to use, it’s still not the same.

    1. Anonymous says:

       Suppose I add you to my circle and then I publish to that circle – does it come in on your stream?

      1. Ben says:

        Not until i add you to one of my circles. There is an “incoming” stream you can click on which shows posts from people not yet in your circles

  5. JohnLBevan says:

    So, if I want to put a friend into more than one hole, I have to rip out their organs, sell them to Zuckerberg in exchange for a walk in the woods with him, dig a couple of holes, and split the remnants of their corpse between the holes, right?  So simple now – I get it!  Before I’d thought they were just some kind of security group / mailing list type thing; d’oh.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m so happy right now I might cry.

  7. Awesome, but I can say that I have not taken a walk with Mark Zuckerberg in the woods

  8. be.the.water says:

    I love that he being a CS guy could not have called it a bucket instead it is a hole.

    I think G+ to G-Hole works though.

  9. rico says:

    They should have called it the “Byrnes family circle of trust.” It’s clear that the google plus folks are fans of the Meet the Parents & Meet the Fockers movies.

  10. the stranger says:

    k-hole? hahahahahahaha!

  11. Ef Rodriguez says:

    Needs more Groupon.

  12. Bonee says:

    Yeah, because the reason I want to have work people in one group and non-work people in another group and people I game with in one group and close family in another group is all about being racist. Fucktard.

  13. Logic says:

    This whole “grouping your friends” is sounding extremely cliquey to me. I mean soon enough you’ll find out that your boyfriend put you in his “acquaintances” circle so that you don’t see the pictures of him drinking with girls the previous night. It all just seems very sketchy to me. 

    1. Anonymous says:

      To be a bit less sinister, on FB I am friends with my parents, my friends, and my teenage children.  So I don’t post anything interesting.