Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Beeswax on Google Buzz

With Google Buzz, Google has entered the Social Networking foray. (Again. It's been here in the past - Orkut and Wave.)

Here's their video explaining stuff

What follows is a summary of what I have figured out and learned in the past 24 hours.

Some important notes regarding privacy and usage:

  • It's being rolled out automatically to anyone with a Google Gmail account. If you have a Gmail account, and don't have Buzz yet, you should soon. I'm not sure how long the rollout is supposed to take. If you don't have a Gmail account, they're free. (Google is devious.)
  • Users can syndicate their Twitter, Flickr, Picasa, and Blog feeds (pretty much anything with an RSS feed) so that it appears in their Buzz 'stream'.
  • Those with a current Gmail account are automatically set to 'follow' a grouping of their most frequent contacts. This has upset some, though it is easy to 'unfollow', and no one gets notified if you do.
  • Those you are following, and those following you, are listed by default on your Google Profile. For some, this Google Profile is searchable on the web. (You have to have intentionally set it up this way for this to be the case. Here's my Google Profile if you want to see what one looks like.) Some have proclaimed this shouldn't be the default. But I believe it is the default on Twitter, and I haven't heard people complain about that. Of course, for most people, their email contacts are a much more diverse group than their Twitter followers. Regardless, you can edit your profile, and turn this feature off. Once turned off, no one will see your list of followers, or followed. Not even others on that list. (I have two gmail accounts, and thus two Buzz accounts, and have been able to verify this.)
  • When someone replies to your "Buzz" (aka: Status Update), this reply appears in your Gmail inbox, as well as in your "Buzz" folder. This also happens if you comment on someone else's buzz, and someone comments after you. It's not immediately obvious how to turn this 'off.' You actually can't. But you can set up a mail filter that automatically archives these notifications, skipping the inbox.
  • There is a Mobile version of Buzz. It is currently available for iPhone and Google Android. The version for Blackberry says 'coming soon.' I have a Blackberry, so I can't tell you anything about the mobile version yet. (grumble.)
  • For whatever reason, if you decide you don't want any part of Google Buzz, you can scroll down to the very bottom of your Gmail screen, and in tiny print you will see a link that says "Turn off Buzz."
What are my initial thoughts?

There are a couple things that are very appealing about Buzz.
  • It's Facebook without Farmville, Farkle, or F'in MaFia! -- It can provide the status update, social networking capability without the distraction of the Facebook Apps.
  • Syndication -- It's easy to syndicate your current social networking feeds so they appear in Buzz. (Of course, you can't syndicate your Buzz feed so they appear elsewhere. Why would Google want to offer that functionality?)
But right now, there are very few people using it. Of course, it's still being rolled out. It's a baby compared to the Twitter, Facebook and MySpace giants. And Google's decision to add it automatically to every gmail account was brilliant. I suspect there are many gmail users who have carefully avoided the social networking phenomenon who will now wake up and find themselves addicted. (I'll repeat what I said earlier. Google is devious.)

If you do find yourself using Google Buzz, and wish to follow me, you can just click on the "find people" link and search for my real name. Currently there will be five results. Two have photographs of me next to them. As I stated above, I have two Buzz accounts. The one that says "Writer, St. Louis, MO" is my personal account, and is linked to my twitter under the username Gavroche, and soon should be linked to my non-genealogy blog. The one that doesn't say this is linked to this blog, and my twitter under the username TransDutch. I've been careful not to duplicate feeds so those who want can follow both and not get duplicate items in their 'Buzz stream."

Update 2/12: Google has already made updates to address some of the privacy concerns

1 comment:

Jasia said...

Thanks for this overview John. I've been trying to figure out the Buzz thing and have been a bit nervous about who is following me and what controls I might have over that.