Google Buzz, Quick Notes

Google Buzz has been in the wild now for a day or so for many users (hours for some others and not at all for an unfortunate few).  The following is a quick set of notes I’ve made based on my early impressions and experiences.  Apologies to those that are already in my Google Buzz group (which gets Cafe Arcane articles automatically syndicated to it) and seen most of this; I’ll try to trim it back asap.

Without a doubt, Google is testing the waters that Facebook considers itself the undisputed masters of.  But with Facebook constantly taking user privacy and security for granted and after a recent, widely unpopular face life, the folks at Mountain View may be gambling that the social media world is ready for a lower drama solution.

Stuff I like about Buzz so far…

    • “Lighter” than Facebook, Let’s face it, Facebook as accumulated a lot of debris over its lifespan and not as much of it as the developers would like us to believe actually enhances the social media experience. Like Twitter, Buzz takes a pretty unforgiving razor to the social media experience, and instead of relying on an ever more cluttered interface, offloads that to Google’s existing services (as well as those of 3rd party online services where appropriate).
    • Ability to post public/private easily. Even I’m not always sure what I’m posting is actually restricted (or open) to the viewers I want  in that other social media platform.  With Google Buzz, I can make a post Public to the world or Privatize it down to Groups defined in my existing Google Contacts. No fuss, and no confusing or conflicting security settings.
    • Integration of Picasa, Flickr, Twitter, Blogs and more allow you to make your Buzz account into hub of information and resource sharing.
    • Ability to pick an image from many when posting links to a site.  This a small touch, but nice to be able to acentuate your shared links with a choice of dynamically selected graphics from the destination site.
    • Ability to syndicate FROM Twitter.  You can pull Tweets in from public Twitter accounts. Handy for resyndicating or just following your friends in a single interface.
    • Ability to syndicate FROM WordPress Blogs.  I have no intention of abandoning my beloved WordPress so this feature is much appreciated (I’m not going to have set up or write another plugin).
    • Ability to show gChat status (to select groups of followers). gChat is quickly replacing the half dozen or so chat platforms I’ve accumulated over the years. Nice to see it given some prominence in Buzz right from the get go.
    • Unassuming but easy to follow integration with gMail interface. It’s like it’s been there all along. 🙂
    • Collapsed view of posts aims to save space, Expanded view returns full formatting.  Another small touch that makes longer posts much easier to scan.  Kind of like the excerpts view you see in many blogs and news feeds.
    • Ability to “view all buzz” from a single user (select Comment drop down menu from any of their existing buzz).

      Stuff I’d Like To See

        • Ability to share stuff from Google Calendar. I’d love to be able to tag single events as well as entire sub-calendars.
        • Ability to send things TO Twitter.  I use a stand alone client for Twitter at the moment, but could easily see these two mediums converging at least from an interface point of view. Additionally, Buzz really needs to get its user base up to reach critical mass. What better way than leveraging Twitter’s already robust community?
        • Ability to access/share private Tweets with select Google Contacts/Groups.  This would require some login API development but since there already numerous Twitter clients out there, there’s no reason Buzz could become another one.
        • The ability to change Public/Private status of a Post after publications (Thanks, Jascha). While I’m not a fan of the amazing disappearing post, sometimes you need to pull back the exposure on something.  Right now, that’s a matter of deleting and re-posting.  Seems like this would be a trivial change.
        • Search Followers/Following option instead of ENTIRE Public Buzz collection.  Google really wants the Buzz-o-verse to be big but I’d like to be able to par it down to something a little more intimate from time to time though, particularly when attempting to reference older Posts from “my community” (Google Wave suffers this same problem).
        • Ability to Star or Sticky selected posts, something to keep them high visibility.  Content is going to accumulate fast, I’d love to be able to make some of the stuff I want to refer back to frequently a little closer to my fingertips.
        • Ability to follow Contacts directly from their Google Contacts entry. Just one more setting field in the existing Google Contacts interface would be more useful than searching for contact via the Buzz interface, particularly if more people import and maintain their contacts via Google.
        • Public Groups and Moderation/Membership powers. The ability to form Groups that are more than just a subset of a single user’s Contact list is probably necessary to create those Communities that seem an integral part of the social media experience.
        • Oh, and I suppose SOME people must have their beloved games, memes and quizzes. I suspect those are coming with the API. Remain calm, you’ll be taking tests to see What Type of Unicorn you are and which Twilight character you’ll marry on your Farm soon enough. 😉
          • General Observations
          • Facebook wants to offer email service too and the emergence of Buzz could be seen as Google’s response to Facebook’s perceived move on Gmail, but given their track record with privacy, is Facebook handling your email something you really want?
          • I wonder what Mute does? Hide/Suppress a single Post, a Contact, a Topic, a Thread? I haven’t had the guts to use it on someone/something yet.
          • Google will probably have to throw Facebook users a bone if they want to wean them off that system. Making and maintaining Facebook status, etc.
          • Speaking of bones, how about making Buzz available on Android 1.6 for us loyal, early adopters of the G1 phone? Or better yet, an Over the Air (OTA) update to Android 2.0. 🙂

            All the quirky Beta-ness aside, I found myself enjoying the Buzz experience today. Its a weird, acceptable neutral ground between Instant Messenging, Facebook and Google Wave.

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            2 Responses

            1. Geoffrey,
              Good post. You’re a lot kinder to Buzz than I’ve been so far and you’re actually making me rethink it a bit.

              My beefs:
              Without true Twitter and FB integration why do I really want to update status on another system? Now if it was integrated into PingFM or Tweetdeck with an open API, awesome.

              It’s married to Gmail and limits it’s ability to be useful to the masses right away. Why would someone want to abandon their current favored email to become a part of a community that they really don’t need.

              Great points about Facebook’s recent tone deafness. Maybe Google can use this to their advantage. But I doubt Google is going to respect our privacy a lot more (note the auto follow incident.) And I believe you have to opt out, not in of being indexed.

              Thanks for the tips. I’m going to keep dabbling and maybe become a believer.

            2. Mystech says:

              Beefs Addressed:

              – The integration of other platforms is almost a most at this point. The very nature of modern social media favors inclusiveness, not exclusiveness of data. Facebook (and Apple to a degree) trend towards “walling the garden” is a “buzz kill” if you’ll forgive the pun. Like you, I’m hoping Google doesn’t repeat those mistakes.

              – The marriage of Buzz to Gmail is going to be an issue for some folks and a bonus to others. I really feel Google should follow the route they did with Reader and Contacts; keep the tight integration there for those that want it, but also allow access to Buzz from a standalone page and by other clients via 3rd party development.

              – Regarding privacy, we all know Google is in the search business, but unlike Facebook Google is focusing on anonymous term/keyword trending, while Facebook is strongly engage in marketing personally identifiable (and some say, invasive) data. There’s a huge difference between seeing how busy a coffee shop is as opposed to rifling through the wallets of it’s patrons. 🙂

              Buzz is still a (very) Beta project. I suspect it’ll evolve quite a bit.

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