February 12, 2010

What the buzz, Google?


I woke up this morning to find out something was different with my Gmail. Overnight it seems as if Google and Facebook have fornicated their technological impulses and created the newest love child of the social networking world: Google Buzz. Though Twitter might demand a paternity test from Google, this “buzzing” community is the latest of social networks trying to innovate fast-track communication.

Google Buzz, channeled through Google’s popular Gmail service, allows users to micro-blog and upload pictures as well as link to other users and websites. And like one of its predecessors, Twitter, it lets you “follow” other members and blog about, well, whatever you want. However, it definitely has Facebook’s eyes, allowing you to comment on updates directly without all the weird @, #, etc. symbols that I still don’t understand with “tweets”. It also has the highly coveted “like” feature that Facebookers obnoxiously seem to enjoy. (Hmm maybe Google Buzz will get a dislike option that Facebook has yet to cave to – could be interesting.)

However, unlike the launch of other social networks, Google Buzz has already taken the initiative for current Gmail account holders. Before I even heard the buzzing, I apparently was following a couple dozen of my closest Gmail contacts and a handful were following me. I also had a link to the “Buzz” conveniently placed under my Inbox link, equipped with a Simon Says-esque color wheel, just in case I missed it.

Though completely overwhelmed by yet another social network attempt, oddly enough, I am also intrigued. What does this new social system offer to the already overcrowded, over done and highly insufferable cyber universe? Though my exploration of this new found tool is limited thus far, I’ve noticed a few features that seem promising. First of all, it seems to piggy-back off it’s already hugely successful “G-Chat” service. In fact, I would be bold enough to say it’s just a glorified form of that. In addition, it also gives the option of replying to buzz updates (buzzdates, buzzers, buzzes, buzzies? Ha!) with the option of directly emailing that user, or if they are currently signed in, sending them a quick “G-Chat”. Also, unlike Facebook and Twitter, or at least with my own personal experience, your G-Chat circle is a bit smaller, and a little more intimate. You only chat or email people you are relatively close with. So if Google Buzz proves not to be a red headed step child of social media, maybe it will be a network that actually stays within your friends and family instead of a numbers game or a celebrity follower.

But only time will tell if this is truly buzz-worthy (pun definitely intended). For now, I’m just going to continue to investigate this new online instrument and see what it’s about. However, word to the wise, before you start buzzing away, like any social network, privacy settings are usually public, or mostly public, unless otherwise stated. So if you are a social pariah or don’t want your mom, whose Gmail account you set up, to see your Spring Break pics, make sure you get your privacy settings squared away first.

Then buzz yourself in.
Contributed by: Keri Lynch

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