Google Buzz: Both Promising and Confusing
It's now been just a few days now since Google launched its Google Buzz social-sharing service and started rolling it out to Gmail users. Much of the coverage so far has been grumpy -- especially when it comes to the fact that the initial list of people you autofollow on Buzz is based on who you talk with most often in Gmail, and that list is public unless you choose to make it private.
To its credit, Google has responded swiftly to complaints: It's already tweaked Buzz to make it more obvious what information the service is making public, and to help you crank up the privacy settings.
(Side note: I kinda wish that Google's blog post hadn't talked about users who "thought their contacts were being made public without their knowledge (in particular the lists of people they follow, and the people following them)."If Google is making this information public, I don't see how users can think it's being done "without your knowledge." If you think you don't know something, then...you don't. I think Google meant something along the lines of "thought their contacts were being made public without any disclosure...")
Google's explanation of the post-release changes points out that millions of people are now using Buzz...and maybe that's part of the issue. Rather than let a sizable pool of testers outside of Google try the service out before opening up the floodgates, it's gone straight to a full-blown launch. Sounds like the company didn't expect some of the confusion that's happening.
Me, I'm finding much to like in Buzz. For instance, it has one of the nicest photo-album viewers I've ever seen anywhere:
I'm not going to dump Twitter and Facebook anytime soon, but Buzz is full of potential and I can see it becoming the third major service of this sort. Given Google's spotty history with social stuff, that's impressive in itself.
But multiple aspects of Buzz in its current form are frustrating. And quite frequently, the service leaves me just plain confused.
Consider the following points: