Google Buzz Is Genius

Google Buzz is a new social networking service/feature launched recently that integrates with your Gmail account. And I think it is fantastic. Once people start messing around with the API and making some good clients for it, amongst other things, I can see this replacing Facebook, for anybody willing to take the short time to make the switch.

Before I go on, I do want to point out that Google Buzz is INCREDIBLY easy to turn off - just go to the bottom of your Gmail inbox, and click "turn off buzz". Done. BUT, before you just dismiss it as another "Twitter-y piece of shit", at least read over this, and see why I think it's cool. If you're still unconvinced, then turn it off! But don't pass snap judgments, ESPECIALLY if you already have any kind of social networking profile.


The first thing to understand is that when it comes to social networking, Facebook is king right now. There are other sites that are similar to Facebook, of course, and some are definitely preferred for certain things (MySpace for band profiles, or LinkedIn for business use are a good examples). But really, Facebook, and the sites most like it, rule social networking.

This, to me, is a problem. Because Facebook sucks. It really does. Here's a list of things you can do with Facebook, as well as a site that does that thing just as well, if not better:

Status updates (Twitter)
Messaging (Gmail)
Photo sharing (Flickr)
Video sharing (YouTube)
Chat (not a site, but applications - AIM, Gchat, etc.)
Events (Google Calendar - you can create events, invite people, set reminders, etc.)
Notes (Blogger)

Facebook is just an amalgam of a bunch of other ideas, but poorly implemented. It would be far better if people just used a combination of the above (or similar) services - and by combination, I do mean that you pick and choose which ones. So if you don't plan to use Twitter, then you don't. (side note - I've never understood why people rail against Twitter, then proceed to post short status updates on Facebook. It's the same damn thing!)

The only reasons people won't do this, and will instead stick with Facebook, is that it's all in one place, and all (or most) of their friends/contacts are there too. The install base is what's keeping Facebook alive.

Google Buzz threatens that, and in a good way for users. See, remember when I said that if we'd all use a combination of better services, you could pick and choose which of the services to use? Google Buzz allows you to do this, without sacrificing your access to what your friends choose to use!

So say you don't want to use Twitter. That's fine. But I like to use Twitter. And if we're both using Google Buzz, you'll be able to see my tweets (still think that's a silly term, but whatever), even though you aren't on Twitter (since I've linked my accounts). This, to me, is awesome.

Anybody who wants to follow me on Buzz will be able to see when I update my blog, add pictures to Flickr, send a Tweet, add a video to Youtube, etc. It's all there, in one central location, like with Facebook. But UNLIKE Facebook, it doesn't require ME to use the Facebook photo/video/etc. upload - I can use a superior service.

And if there's somebody that I don't want having this kind of access, I can block them. But the other cool thing is that Buzz pulls from your common contacts, which means the people who can follow me by default are the people I already talk to on a regular basis, and thus are people I'm likely to want to have this access. And again, I can block anybody I don't want.

It isn't perfect, and it really should've had some kind of configuration thing so you can set privacy BEFORE you start using it, but it's still pretty sweet once you set it up. Better than Facebook, by far. Pretty sure that once I graduate college, I'll cut my Facebook page down tremendously. Those people I'm "friends" with, but don't really talk to, will still be able to look me up and contact me if needed, but I'll have these other, better services (congregated via Buzz) to contact & interact with the people who matter.

Long story short: Tweak the privacy settings, play around with it for a bit. It really isn't obtrusive, and if you still don't like it, the turn it off. But let's not freak out at the first sign of progress...

2 comments:

Aubrey said...

I get to see your tweets even if I'm not on Twitter? NOT AWESOME.

As time goes on, and Facebook becomes more obsolete (it does suck, I agree), my friends can stay updated by visiting my blog, or emailing me. I won't die if I don't see your 50 character thought of the day or short news link. In fact, I'm posting my own on Facebook less frequently...because a) they don't get much of a response, and b) I can just direct people to my blog. Short outbursts of information aren't particularly helpful. Even if they contain links to expanded information, if I'm not inspired enough by your 50 characters (hardly enough space for a 'preface') to read it, then I'm not going there.

By the way, "turn off Buzz" does not block you from seeing everyone's crap. Fellow Buzz-haters can read instructions for how to eliminate this additional burden of connectedness here:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10451703-2.html

:)

PS: Here's the kicker - my boss is putting me semi in-charge of our office's social media...including Twitter. Hey, if it puts our name out there, then great. Also, I'm suggesting a Conference Services Blog ;)

Nick said...

Some good points. I'm still unsure about the Buzz, but that's because I already use twitter, wave, gmail, email articles friends and share via reader, Facebook. not sure if I need to buzz.

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