Buzzing Morning Report

Google Buzz LogoThe buzz about Buzz must be hurting Google at the moment. It’s an exercise in how not to launch a social media service.

When developing the service, Google made the assumption that your regular contacts on Gmail are the same people that you would like to share your public photos, videos and status with. A lot of people loved the ease of use, but a vocal (and correct) minority pointed out the pitfalls of revealing your email contact network to the world.

I talked to Morning Report on Radio New Zealand this morning about the launch, what went wrong, and what it means for the future of Buzz. To me, the crux of the issue is the way Google treats everything as pure data. In the same way staff in financial institutions can be numbed by the huge numbers they deal with, I wonder if Google engineers analysing pure data can easily forget about the humans that created the data in the first place.

Here’s the audio [1MB MP3 Link] . I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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  1. Mostly, I think you’re right about the reasons why it’s unimpressive. I was less concerned about the privacy stuff than most people (because I tend to communicate with friends via IMs, not email) but I can see how Google thought they were adding a nice “ease of setup” feature to get people going without thinking through the implications.

    The impression I get though, is that Google is less about “treating everything as data” than about producing “neat stuff” that is deliberately unfocused to see what people make with it. The same thing happened with Wave-it was an interesting medium that everyone looked at and said “What am I meant to do with this?” It’s not the sort of development we (the general public) are used to-we want to sign on to a given service for a reason, so we know what to do with it, rather than sign on to it then make the reason up as we go along.

    I suspect that one day Google will get it right-they’ll release something that immediately captures the imagination of a core group of people, who will say “Hey, we can use that for THIS!” Definitely not today though.

  2. I was one of the many who noticed people I had sold stuff to on Trademe were being shown my Picasa account. Switched that off in a panic. All it takes is someone on Buzz to unwittingly share an email thread and boom! The security is gone.

    While I agree with Andre that Google are masters in pumping out neat tech, I’m not really sure they thought about the end user too carefully on this launch. Sounded good btw.

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