The web is abuzz—and your in-box may be too—with news and reactions relating to Google's newest entrance to the social networking world, Google Buzz. Are we ready for the buzz? I don't think I am. And it doesn't seem as though I'm alone. Still, I had to check it out. So I activated my profile, declined to upload a photo, and made a post. Almost immediately, I "earned" 4 followers. But they weren't people I regularly emailed (that particular group was oddly silent on Buzz), and I'm not sure that they're folks I would want to share the banter that Buzz seems set up to encourage. Digging deeper, I found that Buzz had taken it upon itself to share my Picasa album as well as my Google Reader. My Picasa album is strictly for this blog—nothing sensitive housed there, nothing to hide—but I would have liked to have been asked. If I had been asked, perhaps I wouldn't have removed the links. Think about that, Google. And my Reader is just that. It's my Reader. Do others really want access to my Reader? Really?
I think that Buzz has potential. And this isn't an "I'm uncomfortable with technology" response, but I think the users could have been better prepped for this release. One post turned my in-box into a very noisy place. Google Chat has served me faithfully all these years, allowing me to reach out quickly to people I like from different platforms, to check in and keep working. Yes, there are filters to be applied to Buzz, but it didn't seem intuitive. Does Google perhaps think that we want to be connected all the time? Buzz's design suggests this, and indeed this is the message we've sent via other social networking platforms by friending hundreds of people on Facebook and acquiring massive numbers of followers on Twitter. We connect to these applications on our cell phones while waiting in line for lunch to comment on what we're planning to eat or to pass along some remark we've overheard (if we're actually listening). But we're only just starting to understand rules concerning digital etiquette. When is it appropriate to join a conversation? Are geo tags open invitations? Buzz has the potential to usher us into the next age of digital social connectivity, but we need to confront these issues first. We need to get comfortable setting digital parameters. If nothing else, for those who haven't just been blindly "buzzing," Google could help our awareness concerning our digital persona—for example, do you want to share your Picasa album?
There's real value for Buzz in the business world though—if implemented properly, it could help rid work email of horrible attachments and improve communication between team members. It could easily become a monitoring tool too as I can easily envision some bosses regularly scrutinizing Buzz and using it as a gauge for productivity. In other words, too much buzz could mean you aren't working hard enough in your little cubicle. But if you work in a more open and collaborative environment, where brainstorming is big, it might be helpful to share ideas via Buzz. It's definitely something to keep in mind as a new generation enters the workforce and brings with them new methods of communicating—methods that they've likely grown up with and are most comfortable and confident with.
What are your thoughts on Buzz and potential "real world" applications? Personally, I'm going to wait a bit longer before reinserting Buzz into my life. I'm craving a little silence anyway.