Much aBuzz about nothing
Even if you've never heard of Twitter, or you think Facebook is a silly site used by teens, you've heard of Google and chances are you have a Gmail account.
This is how Google will generate buzz around its newest product: a social tool aptly named Buzz. You're probably going to click through and see what the fuss is about.
Google may be great at search, webmail, online advertising and many more things, but a social networking hub it ain't.
Its social site Orkut has failed to catch on and has a small user base in comparison to current leaders such as Facebook while Buzz unfortunately does what it says on the tin: it is a persistently noisy tool that leaks into the foreground and interrupts your flow. Maybe it should have been called tinnitus ...
What does Buzz do?
Buzz integrates into your Gmail, allows you to tell the world what you are doing in infinitely more than Twitter's limited 140 characters and - until a few days ago - had some glaring security flaws that Google rushed to fix following user complaints.
You see, it added by default to your Buzz profile the people you contacted most frequently via Gmail, automatically allowing everyone to see this publicly. Would you like your spouse to see that you've been emailing someone you shouldn't have? Want to automatically reconnect with the ex? I didn't think so.
These whopping privacy issues aside, you can choose to post publicly or privately but the stream of information that you see upon logging in is huge, jumbled and extremely noisy even if you're only following about 40 people.
Google Buzz is the tipping point in an era of too much information.
Why did Google launch Buzz? Most people assume it is their way of getting a slice of the Twitter/Facebook market - it even lets you auto-update or 'Buzz' from Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, so there's the incentive to add another platform from which to shout about mostly nothing - or share wonderful things - depending on your outlook.
I've had a few 'Buzzy' conversations with friends, but hated that each single reply came into my Gmail inbox, cluttering up my 'real' mail. Dear Google, this integration doesn't really work for me; it's messing with my Gmail mojo.
Another thing while I'm in grumpy-old-man mode: I like limits. There is a reason why Twitter put a 140-character limit on status updates: some people on the web have verbal diarrhoea and simply don't know when to stop. These supposedly succinct posts go on and on but are not placed in the same value context as they would be if they were a blog post.
What do I like about Buzz? That's easy: the mobile version. I particularly like the maps feature (on my iPhone) where cute little speech bubble icons indicate nearby buzzes.
If Buzz continues to evolve and streamlines itself, it does have the potential to take on location-based social-networking services such as FourSquare, especially with Google's mapping heritage. This most likely will be its future and its real value.
© Silicon Republic Ltd