Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Google Buzz: First Impressions

I've been hearing a lot about Google Buzz lately and lo and behold, it shows up in Gmail this morning. Initially, I ignored it, but I visit my Gmail account quite often and so figured, "what the heck". As I was going through the set up process (which isn't really involved), I was inspired to open up Google Wave for the first time in more than a month. I saw a few new Waves, but nothing like the flood of unread messages I'd expect if I just ignored Gmail for about six weeks. I've written a couple of blogs on Wave, including an an initial review and an update called Why Hasn't Google Wave Gone Viral? My interest in Wave has waxed and waned and now that Google has thrown Buzz into the mix, was I supposed to get excited?

Frankly, I feel like I must be missing something. I started following a few people on Buzz, particularly Jesse Newhart, and in reading the various discussions he's started, a lot of people seem completely thrilled about Google Buzz. I did some searching, trying to discover the Buzz potential and amazingly, I even found an article published at Business Insider called Is Google Buzz a Facebook Killer?

Frankly, I find it difficult to keep up with Buzz, although I've gotten to the point where I'm on top of twitter. I use TwitterGadget in iGoogle, where I spend much of my time when I'm in front of a PC, so I can keep up on tweets and still do my other work. But I have to visit Gmail to find my new "buzzes", if that's the correct term. Not that I don't open Gmail a great deal as I mentioned, but I don't have it open constantly. If traffic in Buzz is supposed to be as frantic as in twitter, assuming a fairly large number of followers, then you'd have to keep an eye on it more or less all the time.

I found myself thinking of the famous quote from Fellowship of the Ring:
One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all
and in the darkness bind them.

Between just how many different interfaces must I bounce in order to satisfy my need to be social?

If Google could put Gmail, Buzz, and Wave in one place or at least make easy and quick connections between them, and then get them to all really talk back and forth to twitter, Facebook, and the like, and then give me one place to aggregate the whole thing, it might serve my needs. Of course, I don't know that's not what Google has in mind for all this; it just seems that with Wave not having "found it's feet" yet, so to speak, launching another big social networking app just for giggles is a tad much.

OK, I'm not throwing the baby out with the bathwater (yes, that's an old cliche but the old curmudgeon in me made me say it) and I did title this article "First Impressions". Not dismissing Buzz completely out of hand, I haven't exactly fallen into "early adopters euphoria" over it either.

To give it a fair test, if you follow me on Buzz, I'll follow you back...unless you're a slutbot (I had to block the first one in Buzz just a few minutes ago) or a spammer.

What do you think?



  1. I think you have misunderstood Buzz completely.

    Your "if you follow me, I'll follow you" shows that.

    Buzz is for REAL conversations with people you really know. It's not for fake social stat building.

  2. I suppose it's possible. Wouldn't be the first time I misunderstood something.

  3. I, like many others was set up to follow and with followers that I rarely ever talk to. Yet the people I talk to most were nowhere to be seen. The algorithm Google used to make these decisions is highly flawed.

    It was easy to delete the people I was set to follow, and much more difficult to find how to block the seemingly random people set to follow me on some of my gmail accounts.

    After already waisting my time with a service I never wanted implemented in a flawed way, I noticed the 'turn off buzz' link near the bottom of the main gmail page.

    I went through each of my accounts and turned it off.

  4. What it could be, should be, and will be for might be 3 or 4 different things.

    To me, it should be an alternative to Facebook if Facebook gets too onerous. I expect privacy from neither, but wouldn't put it past Facebook to put some eventual fees or tie-ins to Microsoft or proprietary software.

  5. The true power in Buzz is in the mobile arena. It was very interesting to see the public timeline of people nearby and what they were doing.

    To add to Anthony's point, it does provide more of an avenue for real conversations vs. limitted status updates. Plus, the ability to limit your "Buzz" to specific groups that you set up is great. The more I get to know Buzz the more I like it. It's taken the good from both Facebook (connecting with friends and family) and Twitter (simple and open) and left out most of the bad (stupid applications, noise, etc.) and then added location services on top of it.

  6. I think that we should try Buzz a little bit before rejecting this entirely. At the same time, Buzz doesn't seem to have much good stuff that facebook and Twitter won't provide, outside of mobile users and those trying out location services. Besides, as decentralist wrote, you gain little privacy-wise by using Buzz over Facebook. All your personal info from Google, Buzz contacts, Buzz actions, GMail communications,...etc are all stored and subject to use(abuse?) by Google's servers and analytics. Adam Pash of put up some good suggestions how to hide BUzz updates and even to remove this from GMail if this gets too bad. Just sayin...


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