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 del.icio.us 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?