Jan Ole Peek

Google Buzz Buzzes

It was about time I wrote down something else on this blog. For several months now I’ve had draft posts with nothing but titles in them, all so I could remember in the future what I at one time wanted to write about. I’m sure I’ll finish writing these any day now. Yeah. But yesterday Google rolled out a new service, Google Buzz, and it compelled me enough to at least write out a few of my initial thoughts.

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First of all, I want you to really understand that these are just some initial thoughts, not in any particular order, and probably not well articulated. If you want to read a proper post about Google Buzz, check out Mitchell McKenna’s blog post, which I incidentally discovered via Google Buzz. Funny, huh? So here’s a few bullet points of the things I like, the things that bug me, and my general impressions of Google’s entry into the social networking arena.

  • It’s right in my Gmail
    You’ll read a lot about how the integration into Gmail is not a great place for Buzz, but for me personally it couldn’t be in a better place. For one, I have Gmail open on my computers all day every day. It’s always there. I can see why Google put it there, it’s instantly leveraging the millions of existing Gmail users. Heck, there’s people following me that don’t know the first thing about social networking, barely use Facebook and certainly wouldn’t give FriendFeed a whirl. But they’re following me because Google made it easy to do so. Will the contribute to my Google Buzz stream? Most likely not, but if 2% of them do, that’s 2% that never would have done that if Google Buzz was a standalone site.
  • It’s like FriendFeed!
    There’s hundreds of posts about how similar Buzz is to FriendFeed and while FriendFeed is much more mature, it’s not an actively developed network anymore, ever since its purchase by Facebook last year (see my post on that). I like FriendFeed a lot, especially its ease of use, the ability to see media inline, and the great conversations. Buzz could grow to become all of those things, given some dev time and resources. And that folks, is more likely to happen at Google than Facebook. This could become my FriendFeed replacement, once they fix some of the things that bug me the most.
  • Problems
    One of the biggest issues I have with Buzz at the moment is the way that comments are displayed. It seems like the idea is to show one or two of the first comments, one or two of the most recent comments, and then collapse the remaining ones in between. This is something that’s very important to me because I tend to scan through the list of posts to find something I’m interested in. Right now, I have posts in my stream that are displaying 100+ comments, making scanning for content nearly impossible and making my mouse wheel sore. Funny thing is, I just checked and they seem to have fixed that, but time will tell…
    Very popular stories keep rising to the top… too much. The perfect example is just about any post made by Robert Scoble. He says Google is working on that and I’m willing to give them some time on that issue.
    Finally, Buzz is a bit of a hog… FriendFeed’s simple UI loads in a snap on my netbook while Buzz takes forever, hogs the CPU, and isn’t very usable for a quick search on that low-powered netbook.
  • Other things
    I really hope that Buzz will continue to improve and become my main source for discussion and discovery. Allowing more services to be imported, better integration with Twitter, timelier updates, etc, will go a long way towards replacing FriendFeed for me.
    Apparently Google Buzz comes with pretty good mobile apps right out of the box. I wouldn’t know since my phone is from the dark ages, but it sounds like a good thing…
    I love the inline display of media, the integration with Picasa web albums is brilliant and I’m looking forward to being Buzz’ed every day.

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