Q. What is Google Buzz, and should I use it? - Henry
A. For those who haven’t been paying attention, the world is in the midst of another communication revolution, and Google (of all tech companies!) is actually trying to catch up.
I view the current “social revolution” as the third great shift in the personal computer revolution, and anyone who ignores it will essentially be “off the grid” in the near future. The initial revolution of the personal computer made way for the Internet revolution, which has now transitioned into this social revolution that most of us are still trying to figure out.
In today’s world, you would view any person or company that did not use personal computers or the Internet as out of the loop and a bit odd; the same will occur in the near future for those who don’t engage in the social revolution.
As a consumer, what is your perspective of a business or individual in today’s tech age that doesn’t have a Web site or doesn’t use e-mail? Over time, this view will be the same for companies and individuals that don’t use the social technologies that are exploding. So ask yourself where you joined in during the past two revolutions, and decide when you want to join the current one.
Facebook is the current king of social tech with an estimated 400 million users worldwide who are very engaged on a daily basis. To put it into perspective, if Facebook were a country, it would now be the third largest in the world behind China and India.
Google Buzz is a new option that is appearing only for those who use Google’s e-mail system, Gmail. In its current iteration, it looks like Google is trying to cut into Facebook’s turf and integrate features that are similar to what Twitter is all about.
It can serve as a basic “aggregator” for various social media sites. But, oddly, it has no integration with Facebook, which is why most are speculating that they are the target.
Frankly, Google Buzz is so new that unless you are an “early adopter” of technology, you should probably let them get through a couple of development cycles before you jump in (exhibit: Google Wave – what’s happened to it?).
Unless you’re using Gmail, it’s a moot point on using it as there is no stand-alone version.
As of this writing, the biggest concern in the early stages of Buzz seems to be in the area of privacy, primarily in the area of the way you automatically get followed or start to follow others.
If you are a Gmail user and want to avoid any of the privacy issues being voiced by critics, you need to do more than just click on “Turn off Buzz” as that simply turns off what you see, not necessarily what you are participating in.
Cnet’s Jessica Dolcourt has posted an excellent step-by-step tutorial on how to ensure that none of your “privates” are included in the Buzz: http://bit.ly/dw1ubz.
Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the “Computer Corner” radio show, which can be heard at noon Saturdays on KTAR (92.3 FM) or at www.datadoctors.com/radio. Readers may send questions to email@example.com