What’s the (Google) Buzz?

February 12th, 2010 by Search Influence Alumni

As anyone with Gmail or their ear to ground has realized Google Buzz has been released.

The Buzz on Google Buzz

I was both excited and hesitant to try it out. I was excited because Chrome in all its sleek simplicity has been my chosen browser for a few months, and Gmail and Google Talk have also been a daily mainstay for some time now. I was hesitant because Orkut never clicked with me and most importantly I really don’t want yet another social media hub.

The main features as noted in the Buzz launch video are:

1. Auto following

2. Rich, fast sharing experience

3. Public and private settings

4. Inbox integration

5. Just the good stuff – recommendations , 3 word status collapsed at the bottom

The auto follow feature I can give or take. I see a small value in this but to me it’s nothing to write home about. We were all able to kick start all our other social media sites with little trouble. The next two features: Rich, fast sharing experience and the public and private settings don’t’ seem much different from Facebook. There maybe be small differences but again nothing ground breaking.

Trying to see what the Buzz is about

Inbox integration is a little tricky to gage in value. It is interesting that you get interactive buzz message directly in your inbox. But Google Buzz is one button away from my inbox, it shows up and crowds my inbox just like any other alert but it does offer some ease of use.

Buzz includes “just the good stuff?” According to whom? I guess if I were going to let someone choose what I want to see and not want to see it would be Google. They seem to have done a decent job thus far. I primarily use their search engine. Did I just welcome Big Brother? Anyway, I am questionable about the way they achieve giving you “the good stuff.” If your friends buzz on something then it shows up for you even if you don’t follow the person who originally buzzed, I can deal with that but in one part of the release video they mentioned reducing noise in social media which makes this sound counter-intuitive. The other way they dictate “the good stuff” is by collapsing “boring” comments to the bottom.

Boring to me seems pretty vague. In the launch video he used a 3 word update as an example. I don’t like this because I love cryptic 3 word updates. I really do. Cryptic song lyrics are more interesting to me typically than knowing that you just washed your dog and it looks adorable wrapped in a blanket. This feature leaves me on the fence.

My initial impression after playing a little was: a little Twitter and a little Facebook with a boring layout– but it’s accessible, since I already live in Gmail. I might try it for a while and see where it goes.

Short on style but might look good after some time

Short on style but might look good after it grows out.

Then… I saw the mobile version and the sky lit up with rainbows. Unicorns jumped from cloud to cloud and I saw Google Buzz in a whole new way. Well, almost… the mobile app for iPhone and Android does look really impressive. The integration of Buzz, Place Pages and Google Maps looks amazingly useful. So, next time I’m bored on a Saturday night I can check to see who’s buzzed nearby and might be talking up a happening spot within my vicinity. I can then check the Place Page to see a review on their location and what others have to say about it. If it suits my mood off to the party I’m going. Then I can even buzz where I’m going and see if any friends want to join me.

Yes, it does sound a bit Twitter-ish but with some added convenience. I haven’t tested this yet but at writing it’s Mardi Gras weekend. I plan on keeping an eye on the local buzzes and see what I can get myself into. If you’re in New Orleans this weekend buzz about it and lets see how this thing works!

The app on android even has voice recognition so you can speak your buzz and post. I wonder if you can hold it in the air and post cryptic lyrics straight from the stage? As I mentioned before, you can seek out user updates based on location, find businesses close by, and view their Place Page and see Buzz updates regarding that business on the Place Page.

We’ve all seen most of these things to some extent in a lot of other apps but after thinking about all the different apps that do various things you have to stop and account for the fact that this is one app that does all of it and its integrated with my already existing email.

The first Buzz I saw upon signing up was “Hi, I‘m Google. I’m ripping off twitter and spamming all gmail users about it with a splash screen in front of their inbox. Have a nice day.” Earl’s comment made me laugh. I think I might have been ready to react the same way but I’ve decided to check it out for a while.

One of the forward facing aspects of Google Buzz is their development of “a suite of open protocols to create a complete read/write developer API. So, it looks to me like it will be up to the developers of the world to make it really take off but so far so good.