Google Buzz Launches

I saw folks tweeting about this product launch. Otherwise, I would have missed it, due to being disconnected for the few days leading up to it.

Tim O’Reilly positively gushes about the possibilities. Personally, I see it as yet another silo within which my social messaging and identity will be trapped. Sure, by dint of Google’s position as single dominant search engine and dessert topping/floor wax, the size of that silo is potentially larger than all the other social networks combined. I just read this sort of unchecked optimism about the transformative nature of Buzz and all I can think of is that we are still waiting for Wave to do just about the same thing. Which it still hasn’t.

Skimming through the Twitter and Identi.ca comments, I also predict a rocky start to what amounts to add on features to many of Google’s existing offerings. Open standards are promised but Ryan Paul, a regular contributor at Ars Technica, is skeptical. Not of Google, per se, but rather that the implementation of open standards will be of benefit to anyone looking to integrate with Buzz. Having helped a coworker recently look into OAuth for doing some open integration work at the day job, I tend to think Ryan’s hesitation is credible and warranted.

Many of the journalists attending the press event asked questions that seemed to suggest that Google’s internal project teams are perhaps a bit too autonomous. There is no compelling integration story with Wave and it sounds like there may not be any time soon. I am not so sure I want the sort of intermingling of direct, personal messaging for which I currently use email with the more diffuse, less intimate messaging I conduct on Twitter and Identi.ca. We’ve all seen the direct message fail, lowering that barrier further seems somewhat risky to me. Also consider the rising cost of triaging let alone organizing and responding to message. I suspect this will open a flood gate on the average user which will kill the utility of both types of messaging when they are combined in one place.

ReadWriteWeb frames Buzz even more simply: this is what Google did with its acquisition of FriendFeed. I know people who far preferred FriendFeed to any other social messaging system. I’ll concede it had immense potential to be a truly useful dashboard, an aggregator for the wildly dispart and competing social systems clamoring for our attention. Unfortunately, I think it fell far short of the mark, re-committing many of the same mistakes in terms of actually adding friction to social communications rather than easing it.

I am skeptical but open to being convinced Buzz really is an improvement, even just an incremental one, over what we have seen so far in this space.

4 Replies to “Google Buzz Launches”

  1. I share your concerns about the mixing of the personal email and messaging of µBlogging especially since it revolvs around people knowing your email address.

    For this reason I doubt it would replace my use of identi.ca. However I think your viewing it as another social silo seems off the mark from what I’ve read so far.

    “Public Buzz updates are available as Atom feeds, enhanced with Activity Stream data, published in real-time with PubSubHubbub notifications.”

    This doesn’t sound like they are locking in data.

    Connecting the service to 3rd party sites seems to rely on XFN, FOAF both open standards.

    This doesn’t sound like they are limiting the data entering the service either.

    They claim a future API working with the Atom Publishing Protocol and various extensions of it along with the potentially brilliant salmon commenting protocol.

    I’m not suggesting Buzz will take off, it certainly has some issues, not least some that you have raised but I can’t fathom the silo criticism. It seems anything but.

    1. To me, the siloing is as much about how seamlessly the social graph commutes across different services, or rather in this case does not. Perhaps you are right, that their use of XFN and FOAF will directly address that barrier but I am skeptical. Both have been around for a while and I have yet to see an effective application towards making my life as a user easier. Instead, they seem to extend the cost of re-entering my profile data into also re-entering my social graph with each new service.

      Their response on pushing data back out directly, rather than through regurgitated feeds, was vague at best. FriendFeed at least did a somewhat better job of this though it was far from seamless. Also considering that idea of seamlessness, what about OMB and/or direct federation with StatusNet? Not likely but still would have been a welcome effort. For me, that is becoming a common refrain. Even when Google re-uses open standards and components, they build their own ultimately separate offering. This isn’t the first time, nor is it likely to be the last.

      I would welcome a social aggregator or dashboard, I really would. If I had something for social messaging as useful as Reader is from feeds, I’d be delighted. Anything else in this space just feels like an annoying me too, play. Buzz simply has a lot of standing inertia to overcome to make the investment on my part as a user worthwhile.

      1. “Even when Google re-uses open standards and components, they build their own ultimately separate offering. This isn’t the first time, nor is it likely to be the last.”

        True enough, I see your point.

  2. All that said, I’m far from knowledgeable about all this stuff so I may have misunderstood the capabilities of these technologies.

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