Paul Adams spent four years working at Google before he defected to Facebook. He still has “the greatest respect for Google,” but Facebook offered him a greater opportunity to pursue his real interest in social behaviors. “Google is an engineering company,” he says, “and as a researcher or designer, it’s very difficult to have your voice heard at a strategic level. … Google values technology, not social science.”
Things are very different at Facebook, where technology is an end to enhance the social networking experience, Adams says.
The one problem, he says, is that the book he wrote about social networking is being blocked from publication by Google. Social Circles: How offline relationships influence online behavior and what it means for design and marketing is a book that Adams wrote in 2010. It even appeared briefly on Amazon before Google asked him—and he agreed—to postpone publication until after the release of Google+, Google’s own social networking system. It made sense at the time. The book pointed to what Adams perceived as flaws in the Facebook model that would be corrected by Google+. In fact, one of the most popular features of Google+ is its use of “Circles” of friends, based on the different kinds of relationships that people have.
Since then, Google+ has been released, but Google will not yet let Adams publish. He wants to know why. His goal was to make social behaviors accessible to everyone from developers top marketers to help them build a better product. It has, he insists, no proprietary information exclusive to Google, and another book he has written, Grouped: How small groups of friends are the key to the influence on the social web, is already scheduled for release.
In a blog post, Adams asks why. “You might say I’m trying to organize some of the world’s information and make it universally accessible. The irony that Google is blocking this endeavor is not lost on me.” It is now up to Google to answer.