If you’ve managed to sprint inside of Google+ during one of those brief periods when the front door has been left ajar, then the first thing you’ve seen has been Google Circles. It allows you to organize your contacts into lists, based on how you know them, how much you trust them, whether you consider them cool, how you want to communicate with them… whatever criteria you want.

It’s a great feature, done in an appealing way. But it only goes so far.

If I want to create a circle called Close friends, for people I deeply trust, and another called nptech, for folks active in the non-profit technology field, I can. But say there’s something I want to share only with close friends in the nptech community. There’s no way to say “Share this with the people who are in both of those circles, but not with the people who are in only one of them.” Instead, I’d have to — manually — create a new Close nptech friends circle.

So either I’m creating a lot of circles, some of which I may only use a handful of times, or I’m missing out on the potential power of the feature.

The thing is, this is exactly the kind of issue Google deals with easily in its search function. (Yes, Google still does search.) If I wanted to search for content that contains both the phrase “Close friends” and the word “nptech”, I’d just enter this:

“close friends” nptech

If I wanted pages that contained “close friends” or ”nptech”, or both, I’d enter this:

“close friends”|nptech

And if I wanted pages that contained “close friends” but not ”nptech”:

“close friends” -nptech

I can do it (and much more complex queries) with search terms. I can do it with iTunes playlists. Why not with Circles – either post-by-post, or with automatic smart circles?

Added competitive bonus: I can’t do it with Facebook Lists.

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