Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Buzz is Wearing Off

Well that didn't last long. In my previous post, I expressed my discomfort with Google's practice of automatically selecting my followers without my permission, thus allowing some people access to information about me that I would not like to share with those people. The simple fact that a person emails me a lot is not an indicator that I want them to know what I'm up to, if I actually decided that Buzz would be the conduit through which people find out what I'm up to, which I haven't and very likely won't. But regardless of the presumptuous practices of Google, I don't see Buzz catching on.

Perhaps gmail users who have been resistant to the pressures of joining Facebook will be tricked into using social media by the new Buzz. For those people, Buzz will be like those freebies they give out at Starbucks if you sit there long enough. Most people take the little sample of an item, but very few actually go and buy the item itself.

Non-gmail users who aren't using social media yet, but might, would be better off going to Facebook, which is open to gmail and non-gmail users alike and probably already has most of their friends on it, than starting up a gmail account and starting from scratch. Unlike regular gmail users, they wouldn't even have the benefit, if it can be called such, of an automatically generated list of followers and followees, since those lists are based on gmail activity, which would not yet exist in a new gmail account. On the other hand, if they want to, new users to Facebook can ask it to scour their email accounts (gmail or otherwise), for email contacts (gmail or otherwise) who are already on there.

And I doubt that many people will switch to Buzz from from its intended rivals, Twitter and Facebook. It offers fewer features than Facebook, and perhaps a few more than Twitter (which I don't use, so I don't know). Facebook users complain when the menu on the bottom right gets moved to the top left, so I doubt they'll be happy with a potential replacement that doesn't offer the menu at all. And Twitter, like blogging, is a very public thing, whereas email is private [1]. To use Buzz like Twitter, then, they would need to turn something private into something public. But why would they give up that privacy when they already have Twitter? Besides, if they really really want to use their gmail accounts for Facebook and/or Twitter, they can.

[1] I.e. although the email address might be public, if we assume that passwords have not been compromised, then only I can write to someone from my account, only they can read what I wrote to them, and vice versa.

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