notes: buzzing around


Google’s latest experiment – Buzz – has been launched to the world recently, with varying degrees of appreciation, hate, irritation and all the reactions that every new social idea is greeted with. Personally, it is a social media outlet/inlet that I can get on board with – seeing as how it integrates nicely into my existing Gmail/Google experience. It has its caveats though.. features/glitches/annoyances that I wish they had ironed out before getting it out the door:

  • Google Reader posts can be easily imported to Buzz – and comments on Buzz are back-ported to Reader. However, liking and reading of Reader imports in Buzz are not back-ported into Reader. Irritating in some cases, when there’s nothing much to see. Good in other cases, as I may miss something/want to re-buzz something.
  • Privacy settings from Reader are correctly applied for such posts (unsurprising, as the dashboard for Reader privacy is still through Reader) – so if I can’t comment on your shared item in Reader, I can’t in Buzz either. However, the status of those settings is not correctly shown in Buzz. Everything imported from Reader appears as ‘Public’, when in reality, only the item is public – the discussion ability is anything but for the ‘Public’.
  • Google seems confused as to what they want to make Buzz. A single life-stream source that you check for all your social updates? Or just another interface to their social services – to popularize them more? I would have thought the former.
  • Setting privacy settings in a particular way is not easy. Needs a lot of thought, as each Google service still makes use of its own privacy settings. For example, I didn’t want to see a particular person’s Reader shared items in Buzz. Unfollowing them has a global effect – I unfollow them on Reader too in the process. I ended up unfollowing them and adding the RSS feed of their shared items in Reader separately. Crude, but effective. Similar ideas have been suggested for re-buzzing.
  • A cool idea is posting via email to Buzz, but the functionality is more of a status update than a post — more like short updates posted to Twitter. The power of length offered by Buzz is not exploited as the body text is ignored for such a Buzz update. Sad really, as would have been such a simple yet refreshing re-buzz idea.
  • ‘@’ replies are nigh-impossible when you do not know the person’s Gmail ID that is associated with the Google profile.
  • Muting is golden.

Feature requests I have galore: lists/groups support, ordering/collapsing messages, re-buzzing, additional import options into Buzz, selective streaming for my Buzz feed etc etc.

I’ve discovered whole hosts of new people (who have also discovered me) and have already had some interesting conversations using it. Most privacy complaints and issues I’ve read with are minor or non-existent: I firmly see BIG things in Buzz’s future.

If only it would get here faster.

(to be added to if I think of more)

Update (26 Feb 2010): Via Reader found a series of comments I had missed on a Reader-Buzz export. Searching through my Buzzes in Gmail showed me I muted this post. However, opening it up there does not show me any comments on it at ALL. According to this post muting a Buzz apparently mutes me from ALL future comments on that post in Buzz, to the extent that the related Buzz in my Gmail does not show the new comments after I muted it i.e. muting completely silences the Buzz conversation for me from that point on. Even if I’m ‘@’ mentioned in it. Need to use it more sparingly.


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