Google Buzz is a really cool social internet tool that nobody uses.
Buzz was initially launched as Google’s attempt to tap into the social networking phenomenon. They aimed to make a hybrid of Facebook and Twitter, where people could share ideas, photos, links, or whatever. They did a good job of assembling the interface for this.
But Google had launched another initiative previously. It was called Google Wave, and it could do a million things no site could do. It could work as a chat, a blog, a groupblog, an image hosting service, a nanny, and pretty much anything else. At first, Google sent out account invitations for the Wave Beta the way they did with Gmail–slowly, enticingly, so people would want to use the service after they were wowed by being allowed access to it. But as people were granted access they poked around, realized the site was too complex for their puny human brains and then ran away like scared chickens back to sites like Facebook and Twitter.
When Google launched Buzz, they wanted to make sure people used it. Their solution this time was to integrate Buzz directly into users’ Gmail accounts. Each user was automatically linked with every other Gmail account they’d ever sent email to, with full contact information on display. This obviously led to some privacy issues. It also led to most people disabling Buzz as soon as they had the option to do so.
Now Buzz exists in the same limbo that Wave does. It’s an incredible tool for social interaction, but only a few people use it sporadically.
Buzz lets people post links, pictures or text. In this way, it’s much like Twitter, only without the limit of 140 characters. Like Twitter, your posts–or Buzzes–are shared with those who choose to follow you. The main Buzz page shows the Buzzes both you and those you follow have posted. You can click on each user’s name to see only their Buzzes. In this way, it works like a particularly innovative groupblog.
Unfortunately, it can’t do a lot more. You can’t post more than one link at a time. And even with the added bonus of Google Profiles, which every Gmail user has, Buzz doesn’t work well for social networking. It’s just a really useful tool for sharing ideas, links, and pictures. It should be able to do a few other things. Maybe if more people used it, Google would tweak Buzz so that it had more applications.
Buzz is integrated with Gmail. In some ways, having email, an instant messenger service in Gchat, and a Twitter-like service all on the same page is incredibly useful. But, as was evidenced with the initial privacy-based backlash to Buzz, many people want to keep their Tweeting and social networking and groupblogging separate from their instant messaging and email. As it stands right now, there are enough privacy settings in place that people who follow you on Buzz can’t see your Gmail address. Having all these tools on the same page is just convenient.
In some ways, the fact that fewer people use Buzz makes it appealing. When Facebook was first found it, the fact that few people used the site made it more intimate and less evil. Buzz feels the same way right now. The downside is that there are currently too few people using the site to have meaningful conversations.
I am prolific with my use of Google Buzz, perhaps excessively so. I post every link, picture, and stray thought I find interesting, and I add commentary. Few people notice.
But if you want to follow me on Google Buzz, you can find it on my Google profile.