So Google Buzz has launched, and I’ve had a quick play with it.
Unfortunately, it’s done the same thing as many recent Google product launches – it hasn’t brought anything new to the table, aside from the sheer gargantuan amount of data it stores about me. And the only reason it has so much data about me is because I’m pretty much wedded to Google, thanks to their still-superlative Gmail service (tabs instead of categories for email! It’s the future, I tell you!) and consequently, me adopting every other Google service there is, including their mobile phone system.
Which of course has its consequences. Within an hour of using Buzz, I found 10 people following me who were total strangers, who I’d never heard from before. This happens a lot more on Twitter (and to a certain extent on Facebook), but because those services don’t touch my email, it doesn’t seem so sinister. But with Buzz integrating with my email account, it does. There is a suggestion that these strangers found me via Google Profiles and that I ought to switch it off – but I’m quasi-reluctant to do that since otherwise, I could disappear off Google search results. (Then again, my name isn’t exactly my brand these days)
The huge flaw, of course, with integrating social networking so tightly with email, is that everyone’s email boxes are already groaning under the strain of spam, newsletters and the other ways people are trying to reach us via email. Adding another system to your email just adds to the risk of people declaring Inbox Surrender and leaving email alone entirely.
Ultimately, it’s hard to see why Google made another attempt into social networking, after the days of Orkut. They’ve built a new private members club opposite the most popular pub in town, spied upon everyone going into the pub to try and connect everyone, and then … just opened the front door – only letting in people who are members of the club. No special offers, no enticements, no new jukebox in the corner, nothing. There’s nothing in Buzz that isn’t already on other social networking sites – and of course, nothing that beats their main enemies, Facebook or Twitter. and ironically, they seem to be quite swamped – picking up blog posts and Twitter feeds from other areas of my digital life seems to take a day.
But like the famed Hotel California, once I’ve checked in, I can’t seem to leave…