Google+: Waving the Buzz away

Instead of working hard, which is what I should be doing, a minor health issue (at least I hope it’s minor!!) forced me to take an unwanted rest for a few days. By a mere coincidence, this was the week that Google decided to launch their new not-so-close-but-now-definitely-closed-again social service, Google Plus.

Ironically, I was stuck on doing Second Life-to-social-networking integrations and needed a break, when my PhD supervisor managed to figure out a hack to send me an invite to Google Plus, so I logged in to see what the buzz was about (pun definitely intended).

Please note that Google has a terrible track record in launching absolutely new services, so I was a bit reluctant to join Yet Another Failed Social Networking Service by Google. I had joined Orkut when Google bought it; Orkut is pretty much forgotten by the whole world except in Brazil and India, where it’s used heavilly. When I’ve registered to Google Wave, I was looking forward mostly to its most important feature: integration. I have always been wary of duplicating content all over the ‘net and not being able to bring it together in the same place. For example, it used to be simple to add Flickr and YouTube streams to Facebook using an application for that (there were tons). Then Facebook decided to reinvent the wheel and just offer those very same services instead of having people use competing services; so that meant re-uploading everything again. Sure, there are still ways to get some integration, but Google Wave promised to completely change the way we thought about integration. It had a rather powerful API and some very cool ideas. Alas, on my poor outdated Macs, it was a pain to launch Google Wave and watch the slowdown — way, way worse than logging in to SL with my usual FPS of 1.8-3.3 🙂 And of course I did not understand very well what Google actually wanted to do with Wave: not integrating with everything out there, but simply to allow others to integrate everything with Wave — which obviously didn’t happen overnight. It was clear that the collapse of Wave was imminent; a friend of mine who works for Google says that they pretty much maintained Wave around for so long because programmers were happily sharing code on it, as well as “old school” role-players (of the paper-and-pencil generation), so it still had a purpose.

Google Buzz was an attempt to emulate Twitter. The idea was not terribly bad, but also not outstandingly impressive — definitely not a “Twitter killer”. Obviously, Gmail fans will enjoy the tight integration with Gmail, but things quickly get confusing — Buzz becomes a mailbox on Gmail. I’m possibly one of the few persons in the world that never liked Google’s “threaded” approach to “mail conversations” because I simply get way, way too much email — it’s a slow day if I get less than a 100 messages per day; usually, I get close to 300, sometimes 500 — and it’s impossible to keep track of a zillion open conversations that way: I keep missing the latest updates on all of them; so I stick to my old IMAP mail reader, Apple Mail. Still, I love the superfast search features, which obviously I use a lot.

Strangely, it seems to be far easier to integrate things with Buzz than with Wave. But let’s be honest: Buzz is also semi-dead and worthless, compared to the alternatives, and it cannot honestly be seen as Google’s best example of “social networking”.

So… Orkut is for a niche geographical market; Wave, technically defunct, only appealed to an even smaller niche market; and Buzz, well, it was a good idea launched way too late. And I won’t even mention Google Lively‘s completely failed approach to address the social virtual world market. Not a good track record so far (and remember that Orkut was a product they bought, not developed from scratch — even though the current generation of Orkut has definitely little to do with the original). With Larry Page at the helm of Google now, the question was: does Page still have the “spark” to keep the giant growing and making shareholders happy?

Well, it looks like they had a pretty good start. Here is my first impression of Google Plus, and remember, on this age of social networking innovation, first impressions count a lot.

About Gwyneth Llewelyn

I'm just a virtual girl in a virtual world...

  • I completely missed some extra features of Google Plus which I haven’t tested: Sparks and Hangouts. For those loving real-time interaction via a Webcam, Hangouts might just be the Skype-killing app… 🙂

  • Peter Stindberg

    I’m always surprised that mainstream media declares Buzz a failure. I use it daily – on two G-Accounts – and can not imagine to not having access to it anymore. The tight integration with GMail is great, and it helps me to interact with circles (yes, circles) of interets groups and friends. I also miss Wave – yes, it took time to get used to it, but to collaboratively work on concepts – it was great for that.

  • Are all comments borked? Disqus, what did you do to them???

  • Whew. The problem was not with Disqus: it’s a plugin called “Recent Posts” that was not flushing the query and sending the comments all to the wrong pages. Gah! Now I have to fix the database manually; fortunately, not many people have been reading my blog lately, and even less have been posting comments.

    My apologies to all.

  • See, now if you had posted this on Facebook, you wouldn’t have had a problem with comments! 😉

  • There are still some slight issues with comments *sighs*. I’m still working on those.

  • Bert

    Don’t remember this being the case before, but I found it VERY hard to find the continuation of your story, i.e. pages 2 and 3. Maybe there’s something wrong with the page layout?

  • Aye, definitely something wrong 🙂 Thanks for pointing it out!

  • Still trying to fix it…

  • Still trying to fix it…

  • Bert

    Probably not that easy with a minor health issue 🙂 Get well soon!

  • Hehe. It seems that the blog improved faster than I did!

    Ok, so there are still a few missing comments. But at least I believe that the paged bits are now much more visible (even more than before!). The problem was that one plugin (BlogGlue) was overriding my template and I had to make it behave properly 🙂

  • Hehe. It seems that the blog improved faster than I did!

    Ok, so there are still a few missing comments. But at least I believe that the paged bits are now much more visible (even more than before!). The problem was that one plugin (BlogGlue) was overriding my template and I had to make it behave properly 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Go into settings on Gmail and under “General Settings” there is a way to change how mail conversations are grouped. You can make it un grouped if you like from there.

  • Anonymous

    Go into settings on Gmail and under “General Settings” there is a way to change how mail conversations are grouped. You can make it un grouped if you like from there.

  • Anonymous

    Go into settings on Gmail and under “General Settings” there is a way to change how mail conversations are grouped. You can make it un grouped if you like from there.

  • Bad Google, bad. Such a wonderful technology completely spoilt because of some control freak who defines policies — against all consumers’ rights and citizens’ rights, which protect our right to do business and express our opinions under whatever name we deem best, so long as it’s not with criminal intent.

    I’m gone now 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Why do you split your posts into multiple pages? Do you realize how obnoxious that is? Cut that out please and thank you.

  • People’s tastes differ,[email protected]:disqus 🙂 At the beginning, I didn’t split posts into multiple pages. Then I got a flood of complaints that the page became unreadable with the long text flow; those increased until I sort of was “forced” to start splitting each page in roughly 5000-word-pages each. Those complaints subsided, so I guessed I was getting the right amount per page.

    Now you favour single-page posts! Oh well. It’s impossible to please so many people with contradictory wishes. The best I can look for is a way to switch between multiple pages and single pages, and let people pick the version they prefer. This should be possible to do, and I promise to take a look at it…