Is Google Buzz Worth All the Buzz, or is it Shallow Wave?
Yesterday morning, after slurping up their morning coffee buzz, a number of Gmail users got their Google Buzz on, or they at least took a shot. Google's new social platform, which some say is the search engine giant's solution to Twitter and Facebook, is currently at the fore in tech talk. But will we still be getting buzzed by this time next week, or will all the hype evaporate like a wave that never caught wind?
Los Angeles-based Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis sent out a list of bullish thoughts on Google Buzz as it compares to Facebook to his newsletter subscribers yesterday afternoon. Not only did the consummate entrepreneur call Buzz "brilliant" and "groundbreaking," he wrote that "Google Buzz 1.0 is better than Facebook after six or seven years."
We thought this was quite a bold statement, so we decided to take a gander at Google's latest global takeover weapon to see if this could be true.
Right out of the gate, Buzz replicates the same real-time conversation functionality as both Twitter and Facebook within Gmail so that users never have to leave Google. This is a nice perk for people who would prefer to have all of their content and communication in one centralized location.
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Buzz also allows users to skip steps they normally have to take to make full use of Twitter and Facebook. To get started using Buzz there's no need to build a new social network from scratch. Buzz connections are integrated directly into Gmail accounts.
Another primary feature Buzz has over Twitter is threaded discussions. Rather than clicking back and forth to different pages to follow a dialogue, users can see full conversations in one place.
Gogii Community Director and self-proclaimed geek Drew Olanoff says comparing Google Buzz and Facebook is like comparing "apples and oranges."
"My mom will not use Buzz for some time," Olanoff asserted. "Facebook is for conversation and connection first, sometimes this is done through sharing. Buzz is all spit out spit out spit out, maybe get some feedback."
Former Mahalo CTO Mark Jeffrey says he's not as not sure Buzz has as much gusto as Calacanis thinks, but he does see potential for innovation.
"I don't think Google Buzz is going to bring down Facebook mainly because kids don't use e-mail," said Jeffrey. "E-mail is something that older people do, while kids live inside of Facebook."
We still rock e-mail like it's 1998 here at LA Weekly, so we're feeling a bit old, but we wanted to hear more about this "innovation" Jeffrey mentioned.
"The interesting thing about Google Wave is that it's based on open standards, which allows the creation of third-party applications," said Jeffrey. "We're going to see new ways of mapping and viewing buzzes. Leaving the platform open allows people to get creative."
Of course, this all depends on whether or not users take advantage of this opportunity.
Jeffrey opines that Twitter and Facebook users never complained about not having the third-party application option because "they didn't know what they were missing." (Perhaps with Google Buzz they will.)
While Google's openness may leave room for creativity, it may also be a burden for individuals who choose to separate their professional and personal communication. The e-mail integration is already stirring privacy concerns among some users. Technologist and satirist Brooks Bayne lamented: "After all this time of trying to segregate information, I now have to consider if I want my public and private personas merged."
Olanoff says Buzz's alleged capability to behave differently over time will be a huge plus for people. "Apparently, if you like things and dismiss or mute things, the system takes those into account to make recommendations," explained Olanoff. "I won't get everything my friend Louis shares, but I may get things that three of my friends liked, as well as content that's relevant to something I've liked before."
So will Google Buzz show signs of intelligence over time?
Olanoff declared, "Right now, it's just a shitstorm of OMFG CHECK OUT BUZZ," as well as a firehose of tweets and Google Reader shared items that I don't want to see."
We'll check on the weather and potential water evaporation next week.
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