What’s All the Buzz About Google Buzz?

Probably the biggest buzz going around the web this week was the announcement of Google Buzz. It’s been a trending topic on twitter and all of the tech blogs have been talking about it. So what exactly is Google Buzz?

Buzz is a new product from Google that integrates social networking into Gmail. If you’re familiar with twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook then you’ll see some similarities in this product. Rather than going out and finding people to “follow” or “friend”, Buzz does it for you by automatically following the people you email and chat with the most. You can make your posts public or private and you can easily integrate your twitter feed, photos from Picassa and Flickr, videos on YouTube and share your Google Reader subscriptions.

When new posts and comments are added, they pop in automatically so there is no need to refresh the screen. When comments are made to your posts they’re sent to your Gmail inbox so it’s easy to keep the conversation going. Buzz will even make recommendations of interesting posts and weed out the ones you may not be interested in.

Google designed Buzz to work on mobile devices like the iPhone and Android phones, adding another level of sharing; location. Posts tagged with geographical information have an extra dimension of context. You could take a photo while you’re on vacation, post it to Buzz, tagging it with location information and link it to Google Maps. But more than just showing location on a map, Google is focusing on “places” and the conversations around them.

Even though Buzz is only a few days old it’s already received a lot of praise and criticism. With every piece of new technology there’s going to be pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, features desired and bugs to be worked out. Do we really need another social networking site? Is Google just trying to play catch up and take a piece of the action? Honestly I don’t know, but with an established Gmail user base of over 37 million people and the open standards architecture that will allow third party developers to create rich and exciting applications, it’s probably worth looking into.

If any other company created Buzz I probably wouldn’t even consider it. But since Google backs the project, I know they have the funding, the expertise and an established user base to make a real go of it. Maybe it will fall short; maybe it will be the next big thing, only time will tell. To be effective in networking you need to be where the people are, and if the people shift over to Buzz I want to be there ready to greet them.

Buzz is being rolled out but I think most people have access to it now. To find out just log in to your Gmail account and in the left hand column under your Inbox you’ll see a folder named “Buzz”.

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