Buzz Off

So, how about that Google Buzz, huh?

Google’s last toy, Google Wave, was kind of a flop for me because it seemed like a neat collaborative tool, but none of my friends were on it yet. (On a reread, doesn’t that make me sound like a pretentious tech geek?) Like any social network, it’s only as good as the people using it, and as Google doled out Wave invitations, I kind of lost interest in sharing information with the two friends who were on with me. But I like Google, and I was willing to give them a pass on Wave since they’d won my heart with GMail, the Google Copernicus center, their Beijing building, that time they sent me an Adsense check, and so forth. So I was pleased to try Buzz.

Buzz seems to be flopping for the same reasons that the early Facebook news feeds flopped when they were first released in 2006. The two major complaints then were the invasion of privacy and mind-numbing boredom.

I think the lack of privacy complaints are largely coming from users who are having trouble separating their private GChat and Gmail conversation from public GBuzz conversations, or who added their other sites to their Google profile and didn’t expect to see their Picasa or Blogspot feeds on Buzz.

I didn’t feel overexposed with Buzz but I don’t really want to talk with every person in my GMail contacts, all the time. My Buzz was the minutiae that Twitter-haters whine about, it seemed like page after page of acquaintances’ shopping lists. I don’t know if the familiarity of Google made people feel more informal, but the ratio of mundane  noise to interesting tidbits seems to be off.

For every published piece I have, I’ve responded to many calls for submissions, only to find out that the publication is offering their writers valuable exposure! A platform to share your ideas!  The glory of seeing your name on the internet! A percentage of the ad revenue, once we have advertisers, that is. A chance to contribute to a startup and get in on the ground floor of a great new project! Positions are not paid at this time, but our volunteer writers will be considered first. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And now, our relationship does not end here. If I want,  I can find out what they’re are having for lunch, or see pictures of their cars in the snow, or find out what song they’ve got stuck in their heads. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I also have fascinating, relevant streams on Buzz, because I have such amazing, interesting friends (Yes, you.) but it turns out that I’m already following essentially the same content on Twitter, or reading their blogs, or seeing their Tumblr or links.

The great part of Google products has been innovation, and so far, Buzz doesn’t offer anything we don’t already have in other forms. We can already share links socially with Facebook (and a dozen other sites), we can already chat online, we can already share status updates.  If I want to share more, I can pull feeds from other sites into Facebook or  use Facebook Connect, so everyone can know when I crop a Flickr photo or read an article on Huffington Post. And if I want to see less noise from my friends feed, I can shut off FarmVille notifications or other applications. I have Twitter, Facebook, Gmail and a feedreader, so Buzz doesn’t seem to be bringing anything new.

Are you using Buzz? How’s it working out for you?

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0 Responses to Buzz Off

  1. Anonymous says:

    Buzz does save me the trouble of logging in to comment.

  2. David says:

    I never got to grips with Wave largely because it’s blocked in China… I did once get as far as the intro waves via free proxy but then all of the introductory tutorials are on Youtube so it was just too hard.

    Buzz hasn’t really taken off for me – still trying to find the right use for it. Given the way that Facebook, Twitter and almost anything else involving social networking has been blocked in the land of the ‘most open internet in the world’ my biggest concern is that the way in which Buzz is linked into Gmail means that the only real way of blocking Buzz is also to block Gmail.

  3. Lunarhound says:

    One thing that I’ve found to be kind of nice about Buzz is that, if someone’s linked their blog to it, I can see their blog posts in my gmail box. I was never able to get into Twitter because I’m not interested in seeing and commenting on all those little details and it’s just one more site to log in to. With Buzz being available in my gmail, though, I can keep up to date on the blog entries of people I’m following without having to go to several different sites. It’s not revolutionary, but it is nice. And the fact that it’s so closely tied to something I use anyway on a daily basis is a pretty big deal.

  4. Meg says:

    @David So true, I didn’t think of the GFW effects! Before Google and China had their face-off, I’d have suggested that Buzz might stay un-harmonized to keep Gmail, but now it seems too easy to scrap the whole thing. It’ll be interesting to see what happens new w/ Google and China in general.

    @Lunarhound I can see how that’s more efficient, but I use feedreader for that, so it’s a choice of clicking the buzz icon or the bloglines icon (yes, I use bloglines because it was a way to read harmonized blogs) for the same purpose. Since I already have my bloglines links sorted and I’m following non-friends’ sites there too, it’s not worth switching for me.

  5. Lunarhound says:

    I think that’s going to end up being the problem for most people. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Buzz, really, it’s just that there are already too many similar things. As far as I can tell, it has some nice features of its own but by now, people are kind of twittered out. The only reason it works so well for me is that I never got into any of the others and it doesn’t saddle me with another site that I have to check. It’s too bad, really. I’ve been enjoying it so far and I’d have liked to be able to get some use out of it, but I think most of the people I know feel the way you do. They’re twittered out. Maybe they’ll get the integration with other stuff to the point that I’ll be able to use it anyway.

  6. ??? says:

    Perhaps the same feeling about it as you. When Buzz first appeared on my account I spent maybe 10 minutes messing about and exploring what it might do. Then discovered some small print near the bottom of the page ‘turn off buzz’, so I did. And it has been switched off ever since.
    For me it does nothing as no one I know uses it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’ll probably check back on it in a few months and see how it’s matured.

  8. Meg says:

    @10,000 I haven’t actually shut it off, it’s just minimized. Like Anon here, I plan to check it again in a little while and see how it grows. But for now, it’s adding nothing to my life or my social networks.

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