I finally got access to Google Buzz about 48 hours after the produce was announced. If you’re not familiar with Buzz, the idea is to bring threaded conversations to status updates, all within the most powerful social network any of us has access to: our email inbox. This coming from Google that means it’s tied to Gmail. After playing around with it for a couple days I finally shut it off and wanted to make it clear why:
- A lot of it looks like Google Reader: Buzz automatically adds items you’ve shared from your Reader profile. That seems like a good idea, but Reader already has two ways you can add your commentary while you’re sharing an item; either through Comments (not on the blog post itself but within Reader) or Notes, which puts a little blurb on top of the post you’re sharing. Buzz then allows you to have further conversations in a manner that looks a lot like Friendfeed with the people who are following you. Reader also allows you to “Like” an item.
- Information was inefficiently organized: The first items in Buzz are those with recent comments, which is backwards. That’s trying to tell me what an algorithm thinks is important for me to know, when what’s more important to me personally is the newest while also having the ability to mark those conversations I’d like to pay attention and have them sorted somewhere else.
- It’s a “middle” product: Status networks *need* that 140 character limit – maybe 200 but that’s it – in order to retain their singular focus. Buzz allows for updates with no character limit. But so does a full-featured blog. Quite simply I think there’s room for both in the market but products that attempt to blur those lines serve a vaguely-defined market that can’t commit to either.
- It’s not easily measurable: If I want to I can sit there and count how many comments something has gotten, but then it gets messy. Is a comment on Google Buzz more valuable than a comment on the post itself?
- It’s another interaction that the author can’t easily see
- It’s another publishing opportunity I can’t export
Those last two are actually the ones that are weighing on my mind the most, though the first two are as well.
I’m less and less a fan of Google Reader Shared Items for the reasons stated above: It’s not something I can export/archive, it’s not a direct interaction with the author, etc. And the idea of Buzz being more of the same means I’m not all that anxious to bring it in to my publishing activities. I’m just getting tired of the ever-expanding number of outlets that I can comment on something and honestly believe this plethora of choices is hurting the long-term value of the social web. Since few of these interactions are direct with the author they don’t contribute to how authoritative any particular post should be considered by future visitors.
You used to be able to gauge the relevance and importance of a particular column, post or think-piece by how many comments it had received and how many links back to it there were.
Twitter doesn’t contribute to that because short URLs aren’t as powerful as full links. Facebook doesn’t contribute to that because it encourages comments on its own ecosystem. Google Buzz and Reader don’t contribute to that because all the interactions are, again, off-domain.
So how does all this thinking translate to what I’m doing with my own personal publishing?
- MMM: Continues pretty much as.
- Twitter: Conversation with friends and colleagues, links to MMM, me being a general smartass. This gets archived weekly on MMM.
- Delicious: Continues to be where I save research reports, stats and such, with those being integrated into MMM’s RSS feed.
- CT.WP: Will continue to be an outlet for stuff that doesn’t fit in to the above. But I think I’m going to link out more to the kind of items I used to share via Reader since doing so will help build the web.
- I also think I’ll be making a conscious effort to comment more on posts I find interesting, whether I agree or disagree with the author since, again, that addresses my desire to increase my direct interaction point.
As with all things this is a strategy that will be revisited on a regular basis to see if it’s working and achieving the desired results, both for myself and everyone else.
The commenting…umm…comment above also brings to mind the last product Google rolled out which took control out of people’s hands and discouraged direct interaction: Sidewiki. That let people open up a browser extension and leave a comment or information on a site in a way that the author or owner didn’t have any control over, wasn’t directly and easily measurable and otherwise encouraged interaction on Google’s interface instead of the content publisher’s. And that’s a direction I’m tired of things moving in.