There's been a mix of feedback over a new social tool from Google called Buzz. The developers made a faux pas by exposing implicit email relationships of a number of users. They made public, a contact list that was known only to the users of the Gmail account. The issue has since been cleared up, clarifying the follow list as suggested instead of automatic. My friend and esteemed information nexus Mahendra Palsule captured compelling community reactions in his eloquent analysis Google doesn't KISS.
I'd like to add my observations on the key strong points of Buzz:
- it's designed to be part of an open social architecture as described by Google engineer and more importantly, a passionate supporter of Buzz DeWitt Clinton
- if we can build bridges between social tools to talk to each other (interoperability) we can accomplish both data portability (bye bye lockin), and unlock network effects from interactions between users on different networks. This will shift focus from social web tech to communication of information and entertainment
- This at first appears to benefit Google as it commoditizes the compliment (social linking). I don't think Google yet realizes that distributed social search also commoditizes Google search (social search)
Social Network Mixing
Howard Lindzon spelled out clearly why he was uncomfortable with Buzz. Email translates into business and stress for him. Having his personal and professional networks colliding is reason enough not to use it.
Blogstar Fred Wilson shared his first impressions and has opted to use Buzz as he uses Friendfeed, as an aggregator only. In a follow on post Fred hits on the value and implemention of implicit and explicit networks. He describes email as the hub of many relationships, that are best explicitly articulated by the user (doctors, etc).
Social tools are being pushed to respect the user's public declaration of connectivity. It's a social web high value "feature". The challenges of web user ID, authorization, and data ownership are all floating to the top of the social soup. We're still struggling to identify the best methods for integrating our relationships into the Net.
How do admiration, respect, and love translate into data when the meaning of these words is unique to each of us?