This Help Desk

I’m Having A Crisis Of Faith

Google just announced, quite out of the blue – at least to me – its own foray into social networking: Buzz.

As I’ve mentioned on here before, I’ve long been a fan of Google products.  Gmail and Google Calendar are how I get things done and know where I’m supposed to be.  Most of my documents are written in Google Docs.  A lot of the collaboration for this comic is done over Google Docs & GTalk.  Android and Google Voice has changed the way I use text messaging, voicemail, and my phone in general.

Yet I can’t help a feeling of ambivalence towards Buzz.

I have my Google-using friends, and I have my non-Google-using friends and family.  I have been trying for years to get my family to start using Gmail and GCal.  No dice.  My wife obligingly has a Google account that she does use so we can have a shared calendar, but she still relies on her Hotmail account for email, and her use of her Google account is mostly to enter her work schedule for my benefit (thanks sweetheart!).  So even if Buzz turns out to rock our collective worlds, I have a feeling I still won’t get any new Google users in my circle of friends (the ‘friends’ of whom I speak are of the real world variety and are not to be confused with the fictitious Facebook and MySpace variety).

The people I would Buzz with are the same people I am already friends with on Facebook, following on Twitter, and communicating with on private web forums and blogs (not to mention a lot of them play World of Warcraft with me, where we also have text and voice chat).  I’m pretty sick of those people (note the sarcasm in my voice) without Buzz adding another layer of oversaturation.

In general, I am very much a supporter of openness, standards, and in giving people options.  One thing I actually like about Facebook, however, is the fact that it is a walled garden.  As I was learning the Facebook ropes, I didn’t post anything anywhere in Facebook that I wasn’t OK with the world seeing – and I knew, subsequently, that I was not over sharing or being intrusive upon someone else.  With Buzz, I now have a social network directly tied to my main form of communication, and I don’t yet know what data is public and what is not.  It leaves me with a bit of an exposed feeling, and I don’t like it.

Buzz also shares several features in common with Wave, which I have found I have no use for – although closely tying Buzz with Gmail has already provided more interesting posts from friends in one day than the months I have had a Wave account.  Those similarities with Wave (which I still think is a potentially fantastic product that has been poorly implemented for widespread use), or even just what I think are similarities end up reminding me of my disappointment with Wave.

The biggest reason I am wary about Buzz may end up being the reason for its success: its close integration to gmail and other Google accounts.  I wouldn’t put money on it overtaking Facebook any time soon, though.






One response to “I’m Having A Crisis Of Faith”

  1. […] expressed as much last week upon the initial release of the product, and little has changed to put me in Google’s camp on […]

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