The obvious problem that Google Buzz didn’t figure out

Google has jumped into the social media realm and introduced Google Buzz, its venture into social media. We’ll ignore the fact that Yahoo sneakily launched a product by the same name some time ago that got almost no attention at all and see what Buzz is about.

If you’ve activated Buzz, you’ll see a Buzz link right next to your inbox. Your most popular Gmail contacts are already included as Buzz contacts. This is the first problem. Let’s look at my Gmail contacts who have Gmail accounts, shall we? A few people from NaNoWriMo, a few people I was contacting about housing, and a lot of random Facebook emails thanks to Facebook’s handy “reply via email” feature. Not all that many people. It’s not because I know no one–quite the contrary, actually. I choose to contact everyone I do know through other means, whether through Twitter, private messages on various forums, Facebook (shudder), or even on the phone (gasp). People can contact me through email, and my email address isn’t too hard to figure out, but the people who choose to contact me through email are, as a general rule, not that likely to contact me in other ways.

So why Google think adding them as your initial Google Buzz contacts was a good idea? This was the first and most obvious privacy loop that users thought of when Google announced a mysterious social platform. Speculations abounded about how Google would cover this. In the end they chose not to, even going so far as to making these contacts public in the Google profile that you have to create (with, at the very least, your first and last name) in order to use Google Buzz. You can make your contacts private now, but the original damage has been done.

I’ll be passing on Buzz for now.

Inbox Zero, LiveJournal, and Google Reader

I’ve mentioned Inbox Zero before and how I aspired to reach that goal. Today I’m proud to announce that my primary inbox is empty.

I’m also proud to announce that I’ve finally caught up with a month and a half of LiveJournal reading. I took an unintentional vacation from LJ reading starting in mid-November when I returned to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, mostly because I put off packing to the last minute. After removing enough communities so that the essentials remain, I find myself wondering if anything else can be cut. This is where Google Reader comes in.

If a community is primarily public, I’ll add the feed to Google Reader, taking advantage of the subject line (though most LiveJournal users don’t use descriptive subject lines) and the ability to read just the subject line and the first few words of a post to help me decide whether to expand the post to read it. This will help me scroll past my friends list much more quickly. If after a reasonable period I find that I’m not opening most of the posts in Google Reader, I’ll go ahead and remove the feed altogether.

Maybe this will lead to a more streamlined Internet expreience. One can only hope.

Brittany Murphy’s death and Google’s live feed

For those who haven’t heard, actress Brittany Murphy died today. I don’t watch too many movies these days, so most of her career is blank to me, but I did remember her from Little Black Book, a chick flick that a friend from high school and I saw back in the day.

I only semi-found out through Twitter. I was playing a few rounds of Mahjong when one of my followers pondered what would happen to Oh No They Didn’t, a celebrity gossip blog, if LiveJournal ever died. This prompted me to visit their page, and sure enough, Brittany Murphy’s reported death was there. It wasn’t trending yet on Twitter, much to my surprise, so naturally I had to get in before it trended and contribute to that and then watch Google’s live feed that afternoon and wait for someone to report on a source besides TMZ.

I hadn’t had a chance to test the live feed yet, and this was a good chance to test it. It works much better than Twitter’s for current events, especially with the release of news articles. I doubt that every single tweet about Brittany Murphy, whose name was terribly misspelled as Britney in the trending topics for most of the day, showed up in Google’s live feed because it wasn’t moving that quickly, but it does well. Google fetches news articles quickly, too, as we all know: I read the CNN article three minutes after it was posted to the Internet. This is what I thrive on: finding a story and digging to get to the root of it. Google has provided an excellent way to feed that thirst for current events.

Maybe I should be a journalist after all.

Review: Google Wave

I received a Google Wave invite a few days ago and decided to try it out. I watched the goofy video from Doctor Wave, which lagged to the point that five minutes later, I had watched one minute of video. My Internet connection may be less than excellent, but it isn’t that terrible either despite the flickering.

The video was a good test of Wave’s plugins, though. After that I opened a wave for NaNoWriMo participants created by another Wrimo. This was a huge Wave with at least 300 blips, and I couldn’t even scroll through the entire Wave at first. The scroll button was nearly impossible to grab, it kept taking me to parts of the Wave that I had already read or far ahead of where I wanted to read, and it was overall very hard to control. While the feature of being able to click and reply exactly where you want to is handy, replacing that with a reply button on the wave you want to reply to will suffice, and I’d be happy, if not happier, with that. The keystrokes lag, which is unfortunate for fast typists like me. Typing my first blip of two sentences in the NaNoWriMo wave took at least five minutes.

Google really needs to address the lag before this product can be as influential as people say it will be. If it isn’t, my invite may have been acquired in vain.

And before you ask, I don’t know if I have any invites. The answer is probably no since I received an invite in the past week. The site interface was too slow for me to navigate in a reasonable period of time, and I gave up out of frustration, choosing to do something where I could type freely. This something involved my NaNo novel.

One day when I’m less easily frustrated by the lag, there will be a more substantial review.