Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Google Buzz

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

For those of you who don’t use Google’s Gmail, you may not have heard of a little thing called Buzz. For those who have, I am sure you already have your opinion already. Google appears to have jumped the gun on a product release, and some of us were forgiving, and others weren’t. I am in the forgiving crowd. I think Buzz has already improved in its first week of existence and I expect it to continue to improve. That being said, what is Buzz?

Buzz has been described as a combination of Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, and FriendFeed, among others. The Facebook part is the biggest stretch, but as it remains semi-nebulous still at this point, I think it could be compared to any site you choose. Buzz has been seen as a direct competitor to Twitter, but it appears to be a hasty comparison, since the two are completely different in scope and practice.

Google Buzz begins by connecting all of your Google sites in one place. Picassa, anything with Google Webmaster code installed, Blogger blogs, and of course Gmail. All of these sites can post to your Buzz account. You can add more sites if you choose, but a lot of questions are being asked right now as to what is appropriate. It seems that most people would say that it is okay to send a Buzz to Twitter, but not the other way around. Part of the reason is the ability to use more than 140 characters in Buzz. This lets a user be as verbose as they choose to be.

Check out Google’s promo video.

Buzz currently resides in two locations, Gmail and your Google Profile. Gmail is the command center, but any comments you type in either location will instantly update the other, a la Google Wave. In fact, a lot of the technology in Buzz resembles Wave.

At this phase, Buzz certainly has some issues to overcome. For one, it is enduring a PR nightmare because users freaked out about privacy that was actually safer than people thought. Google made some improvements, hopefully appeasing the masses. They made it more obvious that your stuff was safe all along. Other problems include a lack of basic search; a recurring problem of blocked commenting (Fail Whale anyone?); muted posts resurfacing; an algorithm that tries to decide what posts are important to you; and a lack of a decent control panel. I am sure I missed some, but I think the point has been made that this is not perfect…yet.

As I said before, I am of the mind to forgive these early speed bumps. A lot of people I am talking to seem to be on the same page. There is too much potential to write it off this early in the game. On several occasions I was able to strike up conversations with complete strangers and enjoyed a meaningful dialog. These dialogs have been better than anything I have done on Facebook or Twitter, and even Wave. This is among the reasons I am excited about Buzz.

It seems that Google intends Buzz to be a useful mobile service. Buzz has smartphone versions that are already better than the Gmail version so far. The mobile version includes location settings among other things, which is part of the reason it is associated with FourSquare as people describe it. There are other features exclusive to the phone apps, and I assume these features will continue to improve.

The apparent purpose of Buzz is to become a hub for Social Media, whether on the move or at your desk. Google has already made significant improvements to the service. I am looking forward to seeing a more robust interface from the Gmail side of things, as I don’t have a smartphone yet. With some of the news coming from the Mobile World Congress hopefully I can remedy that soon. Then I will be able to fully enjoy Buzz. Until then, I am pretty content with Buzz.

For more information about Buzz, you can see my post here or check out this post from someone I met on Buzz. I am sure there will be many more posts about Buzz as time goes on, so be sure to check back for updates. Until then, happy Buzzing.

Update:
I just noticed the search bar on the Gmail side of Buzz. It gives you a choice to search Buzz or Search the Web. Like I said, Google is already making improvements.