The last thing I needed was another distraction, but google didn't give me much choice. They dropped this little buzz bomb right into my inbox. First off, buzz is a great idea, and I can already tell it's going to get massive traction just because of it's location. Gmail may be the only thing I use significantly more than Facebook, so anything you insert into Gmail is going to get some eyeballs.
It's biggest advantage is also my biggest frustration. Besides being a distraction to my already growing inbox problem, it also presents a clash of my public and private worlds. Up until now gmail has remained a private safe haven. Conversations with any new acquainances take place on Twitter and Facebook, but only progress to gmail once they've reached a certain threshold ( yes getting someone email on Facebook or Twitter before moving to gmail can be a barrier). Point being, buzz blows my private gmail world wide open.
The default settings for buzz are SUPER public, and the options for private sharing are confusing at best:
Even if I did want to make a post private, how would I choose who to share it with? Why isn't it an option to share with just the people you follow? Am I really going to put in the work of going through my gmail contacts to break them up into subgroups based on location, interests, or each person is a work friend, highschool friend, etc? I've been down that road before on Facebook and it's a mess.
To make matters worse, I can't seem to separate buzz from my public google profile and I can't seem to turn the profile off either. In the end, I would have preferred a buzz that operates much more like the old Facebook, just for the people I accepted as friends. Then they could have given me the option to go public with certain material, a la Twitter.
So who do these 3 stack up? Facebook, buzz, and Twitter?
Facebook is clearly in the lead. As I recently overheard someone say; "Facebook is the new cell phone, you can't have a social life without it". Facebook has a strangle hold on users, and they are not leaving for any other services anytime soon... Except buzz.
By catching users at the one place they go before Facebook, Google has a chance to siphon off a bunch of activity, and become an equally critical platform. The uphill battle both of these services face is whether or not people will trade their privacy to help bring in ad revnues. Will the new public default scare away more people than they could have gained by keeping the warm and fuzzy "friends only" settings of the early facebook days?
Twitter chose to "go public" from day one, so they don't face these privacy issues, but I don't think anyone can make the case that twitter carries the same value to individual users, or is growing nearly as fast.
Will public win or will people find some other refuge to have their social chats in a more private setting?