Search This Blog

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why are there both Google Groups and Gmail Contacts Groups and other and more abstract Groups considerations

Can anyone explain me why in the hell there are two types of Google-originated #groups:
#Google Groups and #Gmail Contact Groups?


This thread on Amplify:
This thread on Google Buzz:

Aren't both types of groups about grouping various types of contacts in order to manage rights and responsibilities of those contacts?
We group contacts together so that we can send one message to a Group instead of individual messages to each contact.
We group contacts together into a Group in order to allow at once all the group members to see a Document or to participate in a Google #Buzz thread.
We group contacts together into a Group in order to know that all people in that group are responsible and/or capable of answering our question on a particular topic.

Group notion should be universal and defined by open standard.
There should be simple tool for on-the-fly group creation and for easy management.
Groups have various characteristics and there should be an easy to understand protocol/specification of how to set up and announce purposes and characteristics of each group.
There should be easy and standard protocol and tools allowing to connect a group with its specific purposes and characteristics to a specific application or web site.
Each user should be in charge and in full control of Groups he originated.

So far I saw several vendors types of groups: Google Groups, Gmail Contact Groups, Facebook Groups, Windows (Active Directory) Roles, Windows Live Groups. I don't think any of these group types provides full set of basic requirements stated above.

See related articles and discussions:
The Real Life #Social Network
Google researcher says friend groups may give it a window to best Facebook
Some Thoughts on Facebook Groups
Rob Gordon: The latest casualty (gossip) of social network (buzz)
Eric Goldstein Facebook Groups s-k!

Get started with groups on Windows Live
Facebook Groups
Google Groups
Evan Williams on Decentralized Social Networks - ReadWriteWeb

An update of 10/23/2010:
An interesting and related Buzz discussion initiated by Rob Gordon sparkled here: It tells me that this topic is hot.

An update of 10/27/2010:
I forgot about Yahoo groups / lists. I’m on Yahoo since I was born :),  but I’m not actually using it. Liz Panton knows everything about Yahoo groups, she brought my attention to it here on Amplify:

I know I have mentioned it before but something that is related to your blog post is the very confusing situation on Yahoo where someone without a Yahoo account can join a Yahoo “group” (email list) but not be a member of the Yahoo Group (web group) for the same list until and unless they have a Yahoo account. There are yet more tangles in that one Yahoo account can support several Yahoo profiles which can be used to subscribe to different groups. When I got my head around it I found this Yahoo mish-mash very useful but it can be rather baffling at first. (There is a similar “multiple identity” option with Google of course).

I wonder if this “multiple aliases” facility is an almost redundant hangover from times (going back about 10 years or so) when there was so much more anxiety and suspicion about the internet and the big emphasis was on hiding as much as possible about one’s identity online. In those days I would not expect to encounter many, if any, people online that I actually knew already. This relates to the parallel discussion about FB: people I know who have only recently started to interact online as adults are dipping their toes into the water with FB, where it is normal practice and helpful for people to reveal their true identities if they are to connect with real-life friends and family.

In relation to “group identity”, something that I think you might find interesting is the way that people seem to demonstrate different perceptions of “groups” and engage in different types of interactions on different Genealogy / Family History websites, with some definite “cultural” differences between different sites. I have found it quite fascinating. The structure of the sites differs too, herding people into, and sometimes excluding people from, pre-determined groupings that represent particular “communities of interest”. (As they say, “there’s a PhD in there for someone!”)

My comment:
Thank you for very interesting information. It looks like Yahoo is way ahead in this game, but it may be overly confusing too.

One can have many Gmail accounts, but these accounts are not connected to each other. Nothing like “one Yahoo account can support several Yahoo profiles which can be used to subscribe to different groups.”

I think an ability to join a Yahoo “group” (email list) without having Yahoo account is important for making this tool suitable for more people. If I’m not mistaken, Google Groups allows it as well.

From what you said above I think that both Yahoo and Google currently are mixing together functionality of email lists and groups for managing permissions. I think, groups should be extracted from other functionality to provide a convenient tool of managing members’ permissions. These “abstractish” groups would be then used in many other products: email [lists], online documents, social networks, etc.



Labels: groups, google, facebook, active directory, windows live, on-the-fly, standards, protocols