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Summary:

Google Plus now offers its users an option to fine-tune their social feeds with volume sliders. It’s an interesting first step towards a more personalized social web. Now let’s make these kinds of filtering functionality available to developers so we can finally have a Tebow filter.

coffee filter

Google rolled out a number of updates to its Google+ social network Monday morning, including a revamp of its photo-sharing features, tweaks to the Google-wide notifications and improvements to brand pages. However, one of the most interesting features is a new volume slider that allows users to fine-tune how much of a circle they want to see in their main Google+ feed. It’s a powerful first step towards empowering users to to filter their feeds. The logical next step would be to expose these kinds of controls to developers.

Google demonstrated the functionality of the new slider in the video below:

Developers could use a filter API to write scripts or apps that could be installed by end users to personalize their Google+ experience. Think of it as something like Greasemonkey in the cloud, with deep Google+ integration. End users could use these scripts to easily define what exactly they want to read after circling hundreds or even thousands thousands of contacts, brands and celebrities. There could even be good reason to use some of these scripts just a day or two to stay on top of a news event, or tune out a craze you don’t care about.

Here are some filter apps I’d love to see for Google+:

  • The Tebow filter. Okay, we get it. Tebow is a great football player. But does that mean that he needs to take over all of our social feeds every single weekend? I’d love an app that makes it possible to filter out all mentions of him with the click of a button.
  • No reshares please. I would love to see an option that makes it possible to filter out all reshares by people in a certain circle. Which would be great for those friends that tend to forward every single old joke they come across, but on occasion still say something really profound.
  • Spoiler alert. Who hasn’t been in the following situation? You missed an episode of your favorite show – and everyone on Twitter and Facebook is talking about it. It would be a huge bonus for Google+ if there would be simple scripts to filter out these posts temporarily. And Google might even help sell more Google TVs if the filters automatically adjusted after you watch the episode in question.
  • The not again filter. Think of it as the opposite of the spoiler alert. Every day, someone on this planet discovers Charlie bit my finger for the first time. That’s great — except when that video shows up in my feeds for the umpteenth time. So how about an app that filters out all YouTube videos I’ve already seen?

Of course, these are just a few examples. One can imagine developers would come up with countless other cases, which could in turn provide endless opportunities to end users to fine-tune their Google+ experience. And there are signs Google may actually be up for this kind of endeavor: The company has been exposing a number of Google+ Hangouts features to developers, allowing them to build their own apps on top of the popular group video chat. Apply the same kind of spirit towards filters for Google+, and the result may be a truly personalized social web experience.

Image courtesy of (CC-BY-SA) Flickr user depone.

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  1. Exactly as I posted earlier:

    “If we are using our Circles as intended then the focus of stream organisation should surely be on filtering out that which we don’t want to see rather than trying to catch that which we do.”

    http://colinwalker.me.uk/2011/12/circle-priorities-blessing-or-contradiction/

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