Jetty at the water village, Kapalai Island, Malaysian Borneo
Canon EOS 350d + Canon EF-S 10-22mm, Circular PL
this image is not cropped, color and contrast adjustment in Lightroom
Location on Google Maps
This jetty image from Kapalai island have been published before in this blog - but I can't resist making it part of the "lagoon dreams week" - it is indeed one of my favorite photos on the subject. Kapalai Island is actually not real island anymore - it sunk few decades ago, leaving only small sandbar on the surface and only when tide is low. How is it possible to build diving resort on non-existing island ? Check this official web page of Kapalai diving resort to see how. Whole place consist of stilt bungalows sitting on the top of the shallow reef ! Very unique.
Kapalai is the gateway to majestic Sipadan - island saturated with pelagic and reef life, one of the top diving destinations in the world. High-speed boats bring divers from Kapalai to Sipadan just in 15 minutes. Sipadan itself is fully protected and no accommodation exists anymore on the pristine island - and this is very good thing for the conservation. Especially considering that green sea turtles use it's beaches for laying eggs ! And once you are tired of Sipadan - you can spend good time looking for amazing macro creatures on Kapalai's house reef.
As I promised I want to write about my recent experiences on Google+. I created my account during closed testing in July and was instantly impressed by technological features of the network. It was pretty empty initially - I used it for few weeks to communicate with some of my geeky friends whom created account in this desolated cyberland too. But couple of weeks ago things started to change - G+ went ballistic. Network was obviously seeded by Google employees initially, and they undertook interesting effort of curation by collectively promoting and resharing posts from interesting authors. I was exposed too by Google+ photo community manager, and in just one week I've seen number of people whom "circled" me growing from less than hundred to almost 900 ! Wow, I remember in LJ it took me couple of years to get to this level (well things were different back when, less users in social networks/blog sphere). And it's bigger than my FB network, but again, reason why my FB network is not growing fast in my case explained below.
Interesting thing is that this promotion effort sealed some sort of the culture on G+ which is very different from the one prevailing on Facebook - majority of people I stumble upon are not sharing status updates on their digestion and other silliness - instead of that I built huge network of creative professionals, technologists, all kind of interesting people posting something unique and substantial.
Biggest thing about G+ is the evolution of model of relationship between users. Circles seem to be simple and naive model for perfection but when coupled with superb design of user interfaces they actually work pretty well and also solve some ethical issues. I will explain.
Initial model for social networks was primarily based on the concept of mutual "friendship". Well, friendship in real world is very strong commitment. It's social contract to pay attention to each other constantly, to care about each other and e.t.c. e.t.c. So for more ethical people it is difficult to make such commitments and growing their network to huge numbers since you can't really have few hundred friends you really really care about. People whom have integrity and ethics assume that by committing you have to deliver.
For others, less ethical people willing to step over certain boundaries and unwritten social rules, this model created disgusting patterns of mass friending and mass following - brightest example of the phenomena is this sad freak, I'm sure his soul will burn pretty badly in hell. What a shameful sight. Or maybe he is just seriously sick. Well, I don't care.
Way Google philosophy about circles works can be explained like this. By adding someone to one of the circles you are not committing towards friendship or other demanding form of relationship. You are building your content, same way as you would build list of your TV channels with cable company. You are just acting on very precise granularity of actual people providing this content. And you can switch between circles same way as you switch between channels - you feel like checking what happened in u/w photo world for last few days - switch to u/w photographers circle. You miss Japanese language communication - switch to the circle containing your Japanese speaking contacts.
You don't need to constantly follow everything. If you organize your circles well you can check content on particular subject once in the while - some more often and some less. Circles can intersect and there is no limit on number of them you can have.
Implication of this - circling many people is good thing - you will have more content and fun ! And not circling people whom circling you just as gesture of politness became normal thing - philosophy of relationships on the social network changed. This philosophy and technology implementing it must kill all ugly freaks doing mass following and mass friending, cleaning up social graph of relationships from the useless noise.
Circles also create new model for content targeting - I publish my u/w photos for everyone, but at the same time I have communication stream consisting of various links I want to share with close friends, funny jokes and private social chit-chat. From my view everything looks like the whole, but my subscribers see only slices of stream which designated for them. Very cool ! Also this helps to solve information discretion thing - I have a lot of public things but you won't see embarrassing photos from the drinking parties ;) !
Yes many networks have groups now and distribution control features. Similar technology. But. Difference Google+ makes is that people are forced to use this structure from the very beginning - and technology also combines well with philosophy of multifaceted relationship Google promoting - not just friend-friend, you do pretty much same thing as in real life. You deal with a lot of people but they are not necessary your "friends".
As for Facebook - it is definitely looks inferior to G+ right now. But concepts had to evolve along with users perception of social networks, and what Facebook is doing with all new not so popular features is clear - they are helping you to migrate from overgrown mess of mutual friendship into something more convenient. It will probably take few iterations but considering that Facebook is massive - they will never run out of supporters. So at some point of time Facebook may evolve into something superior and G+ will play catch up game, flipping positions in the race.
I will stay on both networks, and will follow with great curiosity this arms race - obviously technology and our perception of it's place in our lives will benefit from it big way !
As for LJ - if you want to write a lot and to structure your content - and keep it presented in some unique way - you have to do blog platform too. LJ is still ok for this. Of course following and replying comments is very inconvenient comparing to G+ where events and tools for reacting to them seem just to fall in front of you all the time - but let's hope LJ slowly will catch up with some modern design standards. Blogging platform is still not equal social network platform and I'm not sure when and how this convergence will happen if it will.