Controversial Topics, Experimentation, Social Media, Technology, Tools, Usability, World of Tomorrow

Google Buzz: Will Social + Email = Happiness?

The premise of Google Buzz seems logical and promising — use the contacts and message patterns in Gmail to map a social cloud and create a Facebook-like environment where each user’s social sphere enters the email space. In addition, extend the Twitter “@” protocol so that puts the message in the recipient’s email box and their Buzz cloud.

My first experience with Google Buzz emerged on Facebook, where Gmail users were complaining about the apparently unwelcome features and interface clutter Buzz introduced.

A major assumption in Buzz is that the people you email frequently are the same ones you want to follow or have follow you. As ReadWriteWeb notes, that’s a huge and potentially incorrect assumption.

I tend to mix social and professional activities in my email. Facebook doesn’t impose a social expectation on me, while it seems Buzz might — that is, every interaction is interpreted as social when it might be just about getting work done.

There have also been complaints about privacy flaws, mainly that Buzz makes all your network visible to anyone visiting your profile, letting them know who you email. That’s enough to make anyone nervous. It’s also not exactly an opt-in service, another complaint.

Kevin Rose has a list of changes Buzz already needs in order to work for him.

Will social media and email be a match made in heaven? I’m skeptical. I haven’t used it, and I probably won’t.

How about you? Any users out there?

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About Kent Anderson

I am the Founder of Caldera Publishing Solutions, a consultancy specializing in informed growth and smart strategy for academic, scientific, and scholarly publishers. I have worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of the STRIATUS/JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are my own.


9 thoughts on “Google Buzz: Will Social + Email = Happiness?

  1. I wish Google would STOP integrating new features into its products. Twitter is great. Bloglines was great, before Google put an RSS reader into its suite of services. This is exactly what Microsoft did with Windows over the years. Let a thousand flowers bloom, not just one big G.

    As for Buzz itself, I tried it and then closed it. It’s smart; Google always is. But the privacy issues are too great for me to want to sort through.

    Posted by Joseph J. Esposito | Feb 12, 2010, 11:12 am
  2. Ars Technica has a good review of Buzz, basically stating that it has potential but doesn’t yet really do anything you can’t already get elsewhere at Facebook, Twitter and FriendFeed. And that’s a tough hurdle for adoption. If you want people who are interested in using those services to switch to yours, you have to offer them something that’s much, much better to overcome the inertia they’ve already built up. Buzz also assumes that everyone you want to connect with using those other services also has (or is willing to have) a GMail account.

    I use GMail all the time, but I use it through Apple’s Mail program and the Mail App on my iPhone. So I never see any of the extra services that Google has tacked on (nor do I ever see any of the ads Google is selling). Like Joe above, I have great concerns regarding the privacy of my account and actually took the time to login to the web version of GMail, scroll to the bottom and turn off Buzz (as well as Chat which I’ve never used either). If you’re like me and use third party programs to access your GMail, you might want to do this as well, as all sorts of things may be happening with your account without your awareness.

    Posted by David Crotty | Feb 12, 2010, 12:24 pm
    • David, what you have described is NOT enough to properly turn Buzz off; it merely means you don’t see that it’s still there. I can’t remember the details, but a Gmail Help search for “stop buzz” did find me several steps. These included disabling the associated services (eg picasa), blocking existing followers (yes, you’ll have some), and disabling (or altering?) your public profile. Then, apparently you can turn off Buzz.

      It took me half an hour or so, and was a right pain. I don’t know how bad it would have been to have left it, but I remain deeply upset with Google for letting this happen. I want a simple email system, nothing else. So I’m on the lookout for an alternative right now!

      BTW my “followers” were in neither my Inbox nor my Sent mail as far as Mac Mail were concerned, ie they came from emails that I had “deleted”…

      Posted by Chris Rusbridge | Feb 15, 2010, 1:16 pm
  3. The New York Times weighs in on Buzz. The phrases “fundamentally misguided” and “terrible mistake” are used.

    Posted by David Crotty | Feb 13, 2010, 10:35 am
  4. How to turn off Google Buzz (short answer: you can’t, but here’s steps to minimize what it’s doing):

    Posted by David Crotty | Feb 16, 2010, 5:17 pm


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The mission of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) is "[t]o advance scholarly publishing and communication, and the professional development of its members through education, collaboration, and networking." SSP established The Scholarly Kitchen blog in February 2008 to keep SSP members and interested parties aware of new developments in publishing.
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