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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Why Google Buzz Is, Um, Not Quite Right For Me

I've just tried out Google Buzz and I couldn't quite put my finger on why it just wasn't going to be convenient for me to use. But there was this nagging feeling.

Then I realized: services like this are premised on the notion of a single GMail account, a single Google account, or perhaps, just on a certain world view of what people use these accounts for.

Before we were supposed to somehow accept that we live in Mark Zuckerberg's "post-privacy world," the savvy among us began segregating our lives out manually. Spam-boxes, personal email accounts, business email accounts, etc. And then, for me, within the business side (which admittedly overlaps with the personal, given that life is social), it began to be a matter of practical importance to set up even more functional accounts. Skype accounts to talk with teams; Basecamp to talk with other teams. Google Talk to talk with the core group of people. Avoiding the other Google Talk account when people I barely knew began pinging me. Rafts of Google accounts to cover different functions with AdWords and Analytics.

I'm as social as the next person, as anyone who reads the blog posts or the tweets knows. Hey, I just tweeted to @craigyferg, and half-expected a reply.

Then again, I've been a bit shy about Facebook. And probably too fragmented to figure out which platform I should actually live in.

So which Google Account would I put my Buzz in? The business one? Not really, given that I'm trying to avoid distractions there. The personal one, which is for family mainly, plus being a spambox and a place to get invoices when I buy crap? Well, as one of several legacy accounts, it's a jumble, and it's linked to a large address book and a certain Picasa account, and a GTalk account I rarely use and don't want to use. And it makes me uncertain about how much to share, to whom, when, and why.

So the solution is: maybe just go back to Twitter, where the activity is more conscious and there is less integration with everything else, so I'm not tripping over all these overlapping accounts.

Twitter-killer, no. Another step towards the gradual loss of privacy and towards making unconscious decisions to overshare, probably.

It seems like a fun way to communicate for the typical person who has a single account and feels comfortable sharing in a certain way. But isn't it late to the party? Didn't we join Facebook because Facebook was "for that purpose"? When we signed up for GMail, wasn't it for another purpose?

At the end of the day, don't many of us want to put the brakes on all of this Google integration, and just have conversations for specific purposes with specific friends and teams of our choosing, rather than being stuck in this half-broadcasting, gotta-customize-and-remember-whether-you're-oversharing, world? Just askin'.

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