Google recently rolled out a new feature in Gmail called Google Buzz, and a crowd of people now have a new way to share updates, photos, video, and more. The goal of Buzz seems to be to create a system that is as compelling and easy to use as Facebook, a site to interact with friends as well as find new people who our friends may already be following.
Buzz is simple. It is built into Gmail, so there is no need to sign up or import your friends list. It is already set up for you following the people with whom you are already corresponding. When you find something worth spreading, you can choose to let the public see the update or you can select a group of people to share it with privately. Images are automatically pulled from links; video and images are shared seamlessly. The service can be optionally integrated with Picasa, Twitter, Flickr, and Google Reader. When you receive a comment, it is sent to your inbox so that you don’t miss it, and you can respond from your inbox.
Recommendations by Magic
It appears a more complicated side of Buzz exists as well. The service will alert you to updates that might be interesting to you based on your friend’s activity. If your friends like or comment a piece of content, there is a good chance that Buzz will feed these to you as well. A learning algorithm will keep track of which of these you liked, and if you choose “Not Interested,” you will be less likely to see such content again.
The concepts Google already uses to organize the Web will now be used to organize social media. Buzz incorporates some of the best elements of PageRank and Quality Score, according to Gmail product manager Todd Jackson.
The Buzz mobile phone app will allow users to see where you are while you update. It's similar to Foursquare, so you can update your status with a link to your location. The location sharing is opt in, so hopefully, you won’t be buried in updates of where your entire network is located at any given time.
Over the years, people have become increasingly suspicious of the amount of data Google controls. As Steve Jobs uses choice words to point out the potential grain of salt we might want to take with the “Don’t Be Evil” motto,
Google continues to collect more information. Since social sites like Facebook block Google from this kind of information, it’s no wonder that they are creating similar services to compete.
Whether or not Buzz will gain that kind of mindshare will depend on many factors. Launching after people are completely comfortable with Twitter and Facebook may cause the level of interest to lag.