I’ve been using Google Buzz since it came out this last week or so. I’ve come to the following conclusions.
It’s a One Stop Shop
Buzz is a one stop shop for those who don’t heavily participate in any one medium. I’m finding those that normally would participate in a Facebook comment thread are doing so in Buzz. Those of us who are heavy twitter users have not crossed that chasm yet. We’re still in the trying it out phase. We have two different mind sets here, one of which likes the quick bursts, others which like threaded conversations. Google is trying to bridge the gap here and I’m not positive it’s going to work.
With the Buzz link being directly below your email inbox link in GMail its a no-brainer. You have 3 new emails, and 15 new buzzes. Why not just check the new Buzz’s while you’re there? You probably will, I know I do. That’s a win for Google and the users.
Simplicity Sucks Sometimes
This is a doubled edged sword.
Buzz is very easy to understand if you’ve been involved in social networking before as you can see a conversation pick up real quick and follow along. However, the other edge of the sword is the one that cuts. Elder friends and family of mine have never dealt with a social network and have no idea “what the hell that buzz thing is“. To them, its someone else inside of their email. Its very confusing to them at first and they need a tutorial all of their own. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing for them, I’m saying its a downfall of the system in the fact that they have not provided a simple way for people to understand it.
A good thing about Buzz is that it is not restricted to 140 characters. You can have a meaningful conversation without a ton of posts all within Buzz. However, this is also the downside of Buzz. The great part about twitter is that you can get bursts of information in under 140 characters. You can easily skim over the noise and see a keyword that might interest you. You can follow along at that point. With Buzz, the thread turns into a message board like post, where your Buzz account is the forum with all the people you’d like to interact with. Good for some people, bad for others. I think this is advantage for Buzz, but also a negative hit on them as well. Super long threaded conversations with 10,000 characters in a reply? No thanks.
Screwing the Privacy Pooch
Google screwed the pooch on this one. Just take a look here, here and here. This is only the first few I encountered. There are TONS of blog posts, news articles, etc on how Google royally screwed this one up.
This is also where I’m wondering if Google is crossing into my domain a little too much. I like to keep things segregated. I use email for personal, business and family use. I use Twitter for Technical stuff, I use Facebook for personal/family/political stuff. I don’t want others in my contact list seeing what I post, etc. Yes, I can block them, etc. But Google, please, don’t automatically include people for me. Let me choose who I should follow right out of the gate. There have already been real world physical risks associated with Google auto-following users you may NOT want to follow – just read here for an example (NSFW – Language and an image of someone flipping off Google I assume).
Another thing that really annoyed me: I had to create a filter to turn of Buzz notifications. I don’t want to know that Joe Blow responded with a “hell yeah bro” to my message. The issue wasn’t creating the filter it was the LACK OF INSTRUCTION to basic end users on how to do this. I’ve had to send out emails to friends/family to show them how to turn it off. Come on, it shouldn’t be that hard. Google, please don’t assume we want to be land-blasted with status updates and replies on Buzz either. Make that an opt in. You do a lot of other perfect opt-in type of things, follow suit with that!
… and yes, you can disable Buzz by scrolling to the bottom of Gmail and turning it off. Its not that hard (and I may just turn it off because I find it rather annoying).
Too Many Inputs
Let’s face it. As a whole, we all have too many inputs. We all have multiple email accounts (work, personal, side business, and probably more), Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, AOL IM, MSN IM, GTalk, Yahoo Messenger, etc. Do we really need another place where we can “update a status”? No.
Does Buzz give you the option to include stuff from your reader feed, twitter, you tube link, html links, etc? Yes. Sure it does. Buzz is Google Wave 2.0 (think about it, it is). Google’s a huge smart company, they know what they’re doing. Hell, I’m a huge Android fan … but at this point I’m not sure this Buzz thing is going to catch on. We already spend most of our time on other sites, there has to be a large allure to move to Gmail. Not everyone I know has a Google Account. But they almost surely have a Facebook account.
Sure, this sounds a bash on Google. I’d have to agree with that statement. I think they went about releasing Buzz the wrong way. It could have been done much better. They have a Labs feature. Why not introduce it that way? My opinion was that they were afraid they’d continue to lose market share in the hay-day that is social networking.
But, will it be a useful service? I think the jury is still out on that. Right now I don’t find much use for it other than not logging into Facebook. But I have decided to leave Buzz turned on for a month to see how well it works out. If I don’t like it I’ll turn it off, if I do like it, I’ll use it. I will say this, I’ve already almost turned it off 3 times already. I’m a big person for eliminating distraction and focusing attention to a particular area of my workday/event/etc. Buzz seems to throw a wrench into that workflow. I check my email, all of a sudden I see I have 4 new Buzz’s. This creates psychic weight which in turn turns into guilt if I don’t check it. Its like that little voice mail notification on your phone. You open your phone, you know you have to make a phone call or text someone. But you keep seeing this voice mail notification. You can’t help it, you have to check it, you have to clear it … otherwise it will drive you nuts.
The same goes for Buzz … see those 4 new Buzz’s?
You going to check them, or what?