Monday, February 15, 2010

Buzz Bomb

Believe it or not, I’m actually a fairly busy guy on a normal day (to say nothing of the days I have to shovel out several feet of snow thanks to a freak double blizzard), so when I saw the screen on my Gmail account telling me about this Google Buzz thing, I skipped the page and carried on my business. Which was all well and good, but after receiving an email containing this article, I realized I should see what the Buzz is after all. And, um, yeah…

The feature unveiled Tuesday will enable Gmail users to create status updates on Google Buzz and read and comment on the updates posted by their friends. Other tools turn Gmail into a showcase for sharing video, pictures and Web links to interesting stories, just as users can on Facebook and Twitter.

Now, this all sounds well and good, except that, really, do we need another Facebook? (Well, anyone who isn’t friends with their boss/family/students/teachers, a group which grows smaller by the hour.) Except that, unlike Facebook, Google wasn’t giving its users the option to sign on. Which, understandably, caused some problems for people.

In a way, Google’s just doing what it’s always done: charging full steam ahead with their products. Just think of the debacle with Google Books, where they got so caught up with the idea of digitizing and sharing books that they forgot about pesky matters such as copyright. Then again, maybe it’s not that they forgot; maybe they’re so entrenched in this vision of an all-inclusive digital future that they see such things as 20th century concerns, to be discarded in our Brave New World. Maybe, but more likely they were simply trying to make an impressive Steve Jobs-type display of their new feature. After all, springing new developments on people with little or no feedback from users has certainly worked out well for Facebook. Er, wait…

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