Google Buzz has been up and running for a couple of days and the amount of interest generated has been phenomenal. Reviews are mixed. I love it. It provides a canvas for anybody to share their digital offerings, whether blog posts, tweets, videos, still photography, or just online chat. It’s an open environment (as contrasted with its main competitor, Facebook, itself a “walled garden.”) Facebook fan-boys pretend to be confused by this new social media product. Twitterers aver that if your thoughts can’t be communicated in 140 characters or less, then they aren’t worth sharing. An emerging disinformation meme suggests that there is a huge privacy and security problem because the default Buzz profile makes public the people in your social network. I’d argue that to the extent that this is true, it’s a feature, and the default setting can be changed when you set up your profile or anytime after that. It took me less than five minutes of poking around to discern the difference between allowing my profile to share my contact lists or to restrict access. Similarly, anything you stream into Buzz can be designated “private” thus only available to a select subset of people.
Google is the most visited web destination in the world, and Facebook is number two. Buzz is a social network add-on to Google’s popular Gmail service. Facebook claims a user base numbered in the hundreds of millions (including duplicates). Buzz inherited tens of millions of Gmail users overnight, an unprecedented volume for a social network service at launch. The growth of Facebook has been huge since it’s launch six years ago. Everybody and his sister has a Facebook account. The new competition from Google will either force big changes at teh Facebook, or teh Facebook will shrink like AOL and reach Yahoo-like depths of irrelevance over the next year or so.
Prominent Buzztards have been quick to analyze and criticize. Lifestreamer, blogging advocate and public relations guy Steve Rubel lists in this post five problems he perceives. The problems themselves are non sequitur, aggressive posturing on the part of a self ordained priest of social networking. The responses in the comments from his fans, his friends, and his cronies range from echo chamber and groupthink to technical answers to resolve problems. Rubel’s gripes are the blathering of someone who needs to have something to say before he knows what he’s talking about.
From Robert Scoble:
This is already WAY BETTER than FriendFeed. Why? Not because of the features. It isn’t as good there. Not because of the layout. I like FriendFeed better. But because of the people. I’m seeing people I respect a lot who never showed up in FriendFeed. That’s the power of Google. Oh, and so far, the conversations have been a lot more interesting than the average FriendFeed conversation. I have some theories as to why that is, but mostly it’s because of the Gmail integration.
Right on Robert! Also, since teh Facebook bought teh FriendFeed it was clearly on the way to oblivion. Buzz looks like it can match and expand on Friendfeed features and functions.
Jeff Jarvis, the original Buzztard with a wikipedia PhD in Google Studies offered this:
I still need more time to get my head around Google Buzz, which will enable users to post and share updates, links, photos, videos with the world or with friends tied to geography via the web, mobile apps, and voice. Buzz also promises to prioritize the “buzzes” we get. I think this could be the beginning of some big things:
Jarvis’ blog post goes on from the press release to enumerate the “big things.” The post provides a nice foundation for high level thinking about how you want to use an integrated suite of online tools. It doesn’t exactly address his personal experience with Buzz since he wrote it on the 9th and didn’t get hooked up with Buzz until the 10th.
Jason Calacanis posted a nice run down on Buzz versus Facebook. I agree with him that Facebook will be 2023′s Pointcast.
I don’t know if the Buzz release this week was timed to steal the buzz from the AOL/Facebook instant messaging merger. That attempt to mate a mule with a dinosaur won’t produce much. Meanwhile, the social networking scene has been baffling for the last few years partly because of the abundance of self declared Social Media experts willing to guide one’s thinking. Buzz cuts through that clutter. The question for many of is simply how do we integrate our disparate dabblings into the Buzz stream?