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Google Releases Lifestream Service: Buzz

Today Google announced a new “social” part of Gmail called Google Buzz. I find this a strange coincidence after just last week I was discussing if we should just give up on Google as a “Social Entity”.

Features:
1. You will automatically follow the people you e-mail and chat with on a regular basis.
2. You can share content from around the Web, including YouTube, Picasa, Flickr, and Twitter.
3. You will be able to share your thoughts in a public way and in a private way.
4. You will get social updates in your inbox.
5. Google will help you find only the stuff that matters by recommending popular content.
6. The mobile version of Buzz can figure out where you are and show you nearby buzz posts.

Another Friendfeed Clone

It’s a little surprising to see how identical Buzz is to FriendFeed. There’s still a lot of users using Friendfeed (and one of my favorite social networks), but since being acquired by Facebook it’s not keeping up with integrating new services or innovating. The Buzz team has also been able to lift some of the best ideas from FriendFeed. You can “like” items, comment on them, and you can see who liked a post. Which looks identical to FriendFeed’s implementation of this feature (see RWW‘s screenshot).

Sadly Buzz is missing one of Friendfeed’s best noise cancelling features where you can ‘hide’ certain types of posts. This features is quite handy if you don’t wanna see someone’s picasa posts, a custom RSS feed, or a noisy twitter user for example, without having to necessarily un-follow them.

Another vital Friendfeed feature Buzz is missing is Groups (previously known as Rooms). With Friendfeed Groups you can see updates related to specific topics of interest to you. For example, one can follow people posts related to Apple, Web Design, Google, Facebook, etc. This includes posts from people you aren’t currently following. This means 1) You’ll be able to find new friends of common interests and 2) When you post to a group, people who aren’t following you (but are following that Group) will see your post as well, giving your post more exposure. In Buzz, you can post to a group of friends you create in a friends list, but you can’t follow other people friends lists, so Buzz is missing out on this great social feature.

Focus on Mobile
Unlike Friendfeed however, Google Buzz seems to have a focus on mobile.

Google Reader

Just last week I was chatting with my good friend Dylan Blanchard (over a game of pool) about Google’s failed attempt at making Google Reader social. It’s almost impossible to build a conversation around the items you share. But Buzz might give Google Reader the social features we’ve all been waiting for.

Open Standards

Some great news for the other lifestreaming and open standard fanatics out there…

Over the next several months Google Buzz will introduce an API for developers, including full/read write support for posts with the Atom Publishing Protocol, rich activity notification with Activity Streams, delegated authorization with OAuth, federated comments and activities with Salmon, distributed profile and contact information with WebFinger, and much, much more.

via http://code.google.com/apis/buzz/documentation

The Flaws

1. One major mistake I believe is that they’re introducing Buzz as part of Gmail. If they introduced it as it’s own service at http://google.com/buzz , and adding it into your gmail was just a feature, it would be far more successful.

2. Although most people have a Google Account, this will not be useful for the many people who don’t use gmail for their email client. As well, these users will also have minimal existing google contacts.

3. This could also be quite annoying for people who try to keep social networking noise separate from email, especially with all the emails that people have cc’ed you on a post, liked or commented on one of your posts. (Edit: This can be solved with the use of a Gmail filter)

4. For those who use gmail for professional and business connections, they may need to have a different GMail account for their social connections. (Buzz uses Google Contacts where you can define various friend lists for services like GTalk & Reader, so Google may be able to solve this problem that way).

  • cdogzilla

    It's weird to me to have it in email. I may be a the social web luddite, but I think of my email as private. I haven't seen it yet, so this may be nonsensical, but I would've rather seen it integrated with Reader. Or, as you said, on a standalone page. Still, I'll try it out once I'm activated.

  • Good post. I get why they're dropping it in Gmail, but i agree with you on the “flaws” that it presents. Sorta seems like a better stab at Wave, in a way.

    Like the geo-data though, i think that's a strong feature. I see most of the content shared in Buzz being private though, like your emails are (and i mean it's in your email client). Still, Google can probably gain a lot of insight if people get into it.

  • sunday33

    http://www.sioux.org/land.php, the Other Ongoing disaster ignored by the media and the world

  • Like most things from the big guys like twitter and facebook, Google's rolled Buzz out slowly. A select few have it now, rest will get it over the next 2-3 days. I'm looking forward to seeing it in action for myself. At first I thought the same thing about wanting Buzz in Google Reader, but now that I know more about it I don't think I'd want people's personal status updates, photos, etc. in my news reader. As a friendfeed user, do you think we'll see many people move over to it from Friendfeed?

  • cdogzilla

    Until I've used it, all I can go by is google's string of social failures (that's me speaking from personal experience — orkut, igoogle, the following in reader have all left me cold, and I can't get anyone I know to play in wave, zero activity going on there) so nothing they've done to this point makes me think they've figured out how take on FF or Facebook. My hunch is it will have little impact on FF. But I'm usually wrong about these things 😛 If it works well on iPhone, that could induce more people to use it though. I use a blackberry, which is unsupported out of the gate, so I don't see it changing my habits much.

  • In Google's press event they actually talked about integrating Wave into Buzz in some way. Which would be smart because Wave really isn't catching on like everyone thought.

    I agree, they've definitely taken note of Foursquare's success with “suggest local events” feature with their geo-related “view buzz near you” feature. May finally give Google Latitude some useful features!

    I'm interested to see what the Private vs Public share settings are like as well. I was just taking a look at Louis Gray's Buzz – Looks like your public posts show up right on your Google Profile.

  • intrepidblue

    I'm going to hold my judgement until I can dive into Google Buzz… Thus far Google Wave has been pretty limited and boring.

  • Agreed.

  • Haha, probably a good call guys. When Google Wave came out, everyone was on it trying it out, lots believed Google Wave was going to replace Email. Seems like the “buzz” of Wave is wearing off now. I think Google's going to integrate Wave into Gmail (much like they decided to do with Buzz), giving the sender the option to start a wave instead if everyone in the to: field is using Gmail. Just my thought how they could integrate it, you think they'll do something like this?

  • The most annoying part I found for now is that all the people I auto-follow on Buzz (maybe just because I have exchanged a few emails, which doesn't mean I am interested in following 360°) I now automatically also am forced to follow on Google Reader, making my list of articles shared by friends huge and my GReader unreadable. I would have preferred to keep my feed reader just to read the feeds I choose, and let the social aspects out of it. Maybe time to move to another feed reader and leave GReader only for social stuff, when in the mood?

  • You make a good point Flavio, there's no way of turning off in the settings that your friends shared items show up inline with your new RSS feed items. However, I like seeing what my friends are sharing though, I've often discovered a new feed from something interesting they've shared. I've personally unfollowed a couple over-sharers and a couple people who simply don't share items that interest me. You can simply click on their name under “People You Follow” on the left and click “unfollow”. However, this could be pretty tedious however if Buzz has auto-followed a large amount of people.

  • That is correct Mitch, but I still prefer to keep things separate. I might be very interested in what that IT-blogger shares on his reader, but not care of his holiday pix, while on the other hand I might want to follow my close friend's pictures and music listens while I don't care of his reader shares that are on topics I don't follow.

  • This is where my much loved feature of Friendfeed 'hide' would come in oh so handy! You could hide the personal posts of that IT-blogger, and hide the reader shares of your close friend's. Maybe we'll see this feature added later!

  • I like that they've thrown buzz inline with gmail.
    Whether we want to accept it or not, gmail is becoming more an identity than just a one-fold place for email. And, with more and more 'essential' services coming out from google (gCal, gReader, gWave, gmail.. you get the point), I have more and more tabs open all the time.
    I'm thankful that they threw this into gmail, for the simple fact that it saves one more tab.

    I'm kind of resentful about it at the same time though, as I'm still big on using a desktop email client to handle multiple gmail/gApps accounts (both personal and business).

    I just got buzz this morning, so I'll be sure to check it out this afternoon and see what we can come up with!

  • I agree that the 'buzz of wave' seems to be wearing off, but I still find a lot of uses for it.. at least on a personal level. I use it in lieu of email, facebook messages, and even text messages, all of the time.
    We have to remember how much of a preview wave, in fact, still is. It's got a long way to come yet, but integration with key services is what will make all the difference in the end… and google's got them all to integrate.

  • I agree with email being private.
    I still hold it with the same views, but as I said in another comment – your google username is become more of an identity than just an email address, and if you want to adopt any of the social aspects of google, you're going to have to accept that concept.

    It's an uncomfortable mash-up, at first.. but it's the way that everything is going anyway.

  • cdogzilla

    I've been using buzz for all of 10 minutes and I don't think I'm going to like it. I'm not paranoid about privacy but I like having my 'cdogzilla' nom de web display on social sites where I share publicly. It looks like I can't comment on buzz posts unless I let google display my real name on my profile page, so I won't be able to fully enjoy the service unless let them display it. Which is odd because I can comment on items in Reader. Anyways, I'm not going to put my name out there where I have to worry about if a current or future employer might be prejudiced against atheists and/or progressives and have a google search of my name keep me from getting a job. If anybody is able to keep their nickname on profile AND comment on buzz, please let me know what I'm doing wrong. TIA

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