Is Google Buzz Worth All This…Buzz?

by Brett Pollard on February 9, 2010

As expected, today Google announced a new social feature integrated into Gmail called “Buzz”.  This is yet another effort Google has made to get more involved in the growing trend of social communication.  Their past efforts in social networking (Orkut, Jaiku, Dodgeball, etc.) are largely considered to be failures.  Will Google Buzz be a success?  What makes it different from other social services?

Google’s philosophy on social is this: It wants buzz to be the paragon and poster child for creating a social destination in an open environment that adheres to open standards. – Ben Parr, Mashable

google buzz

Primary features of Google Buzz

  • Auto following – Connections you have already made in Gmail will automatically become part of your Buzz connections.
  • Rich, fast sharing experience -You can quickly and easily incorporate links, pictures and video into your social conversations.
  • Public and private sharing – Buzz gives you the ability to control who can or can’t see your content.
  • Inbox integration -Since Buzz is built right into your Gmail, your most important social conversations can be sent to your inbox.
  • Just the good stuff -The primary goal of Buzz is to locate signals amongst the increasing amount of noise in social media.  Google uses various methods of filtering so you only see the social content that is most important to you.

As of today, Google Buzz does pull activity from other social sites such as Picasa, Flickr, Google Reader and Twitter.  However, there is currently no option for posting to these other networks from within Buzz.  Filtering the massive amounts of data in your social stream appears to be the main objective for now, but Marshall Kirkpartrick identifies one more thing that makes Google Buzz a difference maker – open data standards.

Google Buzz data can be syndicated out to other services using the standard data formats called Atom, Activity Streams, MediaRSS and PubSubHubbub. That couldn’t be more different from Facebook. Google has taken open data standards to battle against a marketplace of competitors that are closed and proprietary to varying degrees. This is a very big deal. – Marshall Kirkpatrick, ReadWriteWeb

The Promise and Problems of Buzz

Pros:

  • If you already have Gmail contacts, you will have immediate Buzz connections
  • Uses open data standards
  • Includes privacy controls
  • Supports PubSubHubBub
  • Posts show up in real-time search instantaneously
  • Shows promise for improving productivity

Cons:

  • There is no ability to post to other networks
  • It requires you to have existing Gmail contacts
  • Spam could potentially be a problem
  • Another way to clutter your inbox

Google Buzz looks very promising and I will certainly be testing it ASAP.  On the other hand, I’ll remain cautiously optimistic about it’s potential until there’s widespread adoption of the service.  I’ve learned from past experiences (Google Wave, Google Sidewiki, Nexus One, etc.) not to get too excited about all the “buzz”.

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