Zack Holman had a good piece on why Twitter Lists and Google+ Circles don’t really work — they’re “shit work” for users. Who wants to maintain changing lists when they could actually be interacting and expressing themselves?
This is why I was never fascinated by Google+ and its concept of Circles. You have to go through entire sub-communities of your friends and drop them into arbitrary groupings. That sounds like shit work to me.
The post spurred me to think about why all products tend to get overcomplicated at some point, and, echoing Zack’s thoughts here: Users think they like levels of control - “Oooh, if I can only organize my network into lists!”, but really, they don’t really want to maintain and keep up with the chore. On the other hand, how do you solve a lot of the signal-to-noise problems that plague a lot of networks? And then how do you not become heavy handed if you do rely on the app to figure the subtleties of different relationships and discovery needs? And by having lists and groups and things to manage, you’re implicitly denying the fluidity of how people, content and objects move between categorizations.
Oh, and did anyone ever used Apple’s On-the-go playlist feature? I remember using it a lot on my original iPod but never much after that.