July 26, 2010

Why I'm Using Google Buzz More and Twitter Less

Greetings. Without any conscious effort to change my patterns of applications usage, I've noticed of late that I'm using Google Buzz much more and Twitter considerably less -- this despite the fact that I'm (for now, anyway) following fewer people (and have far fewer followers) through Buzz as opposed to Twitter.

A bit of reflection reveals why Buzz seems increasingly useful, despite the perceived smaller user base.

In a word: Quality. This applies across a number of vectors.

First, and perhaps most obvious -- the 140 character Twitter message limit, supposedly related to SMS text message considerations in Twitter's original design, represents an increasing frustration. Perhaps there is good karma in learning how to become a better headline writer -- a skill that Twitter certainly tends to foster. However, getting beyond the fun of shouting headlines, and instead having some sort of intelligent discussion is extremely difficult within Twitter constraints.

By not imposing message length limits, Buzz avoids this class of problems. And its threaded structure, ability to directly display linked materials, granular privacy controls, and other features contribute to a far more "intelligent" user experience overall, capable of supporting genuine discussions in depth.

Buzz has been viewed by the public largely as a direct competitor to Twitter, but in reality they are significantly different types of applications. I would place Google Buzz somewhere between Twitter and a full-blown discussion forum message system -- but without the user interface baggage that often unnecessarily accompanies the latter -- and with a much cleaner e-mail notification system than either Twitter or most forums can currently offer.

The Google Buzz launch was famously embroiled in controversy over its initial default privacy settings related to contacts discovery (apparently the result of insufficient external testing pre-launch, in contrast to Google's usually robust external testing regimes). The related Buzz defaults were indeed somewhat problematic.

However, that being said, the possibility of associated potential problems related to those defaults were blown way out of proportion by some observers and the media at large, and to its credit Google moved within hours to alter the default behaviors in manners that completely mitigated any realistic concerns, however minor.

Unfortunately, many persons may have been scared off by the exaggerated reports of Buzz problems, and haven't yet come back to take a second look.

But it would be well worth their time to do so, especially in light of the continuing series of incremental fine tuning, new features, and other aspects of the evolving Buzz service that really do provide Buzz with far more usefulness overall than Twitter for day-to-day use.

It might be argued that the learning curve for Google Buzz is a bit steeper than for Twitter, but this is to be expected given Buzz's power and flexibility compared with Twitter. The intrinsic relationship between Buzz and Google Profiles -- judging from some e-mail queries that I receive -- may confuse some users initially, but this really should not be a significant ongoing problem for most persons, since Profiles are easy to create and can contain essentially as much -- or as little -- information as you wish.

No morals or dramatic wrap-ups today. Just a suggestion. If you've never used Google Buzz, give it a try. If you tried Buzz early on and stopped due to concerns about the launch or other issues, consider trying it again now.

My profile and current Buzz activity is open for public access.

Hope to see you there.


Posted by Lauren at July 26, 2010 02:15 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein