On any given day, I’m apt to communicate electronically via the telephone, an Internet VOIP equivalent, email, IRC, IM, Twitter, and I might even write a blog post, like today. Why all these silos? Shouldn’t these conversations be talking to each other?

Maybe, maybe not. They differ in their latency, reach, and persistence and, on another axis, in length of form. I haven’t thought this through very carefully, but it’s never bothered me much that the only place the streams mix is in my mind.

Right at the current time, my employer is shipping two products that, to some extent, can be seen as tools to get some of these things talking to each other: Buzz and Wave. I won’t be saying anything about Wave because I haven’t tried it yet.

So far, I haven’t been able to warm up to public Buzz. Since I also hated FriendFeed, maybe I’m just not the target demographic. FriendFeed brought home how important it is (for me at least) to select whom I listen to. The only communication medium I use that doesn’t give me absolute control over who can send me stuff is email; which has the excellent combination of display-just-the-subject and delete-unread. And I particularly like how Gmail lets you delete-all-unread in two clicks.

I choose to consume a lot of input, and that’s only made tenable by careful selection of sources. FriendFeed was always an uproar of people I didn’t know going on about things I didn’t care about.

In Buzz, the conversational trails are nice, so is the wild variation in length-of-form to meet the needs of the moment, and as I’ve said before, I’m very impressed by the basketful of wide-open Web-flavored holding it all together.

And you know, there is a group of people which has the characteristic that I do care about what they say even though I don’t know them. That would be my fellow Googlers. Particularly right now as I struggle to get up to speed on this huge high-velocity technology maelstrom. And particularly any who are working on Android.

In the two weeks I’ve been on board, I’ve found the Google internal Buzz to be immensely useful. With promiscuous abandon, I follow anyone who follows me or says anything interesting; exactly what I don’t do on any of those other networks. It’s not just educational, it’s entertaining and heartwarming in its vintage engineering conversational flow: Alternating waves of optimism, cynicism, and laughter.

I suspect there’s a useful place for one behind most firewalls.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Avi Bryant (Mar 29 2010, at 10:30)

Have you given any thought to why, in the public space, you like Twitter and not FriendFeed or Buzz (or Facebook, IIRC)?

The best I can do is this: first, Twitter's length restriction, combined with its refusal to inline content like links and photographs, makes it much denser.

Second, FriendFeed, Buzz, and Facebook all show you the entire comment thread for a post, whereas Twitter only shows you replies from people you chose to follow. This is a big boost for me to signal/noise.

Third, I guess, Twitter is purely chronological, rather than organized by thread, though it's not as clear that this is a benefit.

Incidentally, wouldn't Buzz would be improved by stealing more of the GMail UI? Why not present Buzz posts like GMail conversations?

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From: Richard Conroy (Mar 29 2010, at 10:32)

I have heard that people found Wave quite useful for tight communication within professional groups.

Its features were good for closing communications gaps on teams. Haven't used Wave much though. After early interest between me and some friends it just turned into yet-another-inbox, and people went back to form with their other communication methods.

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From: John Hardy (Mar 29 2010, at 16:37)

Buzz is superficially like Friendfeed but it doesn't have the Friend-of-a-Friend display that annoyed the hell out of everyone who didn't like Friendfeed (including me).

Buzz right now is inferior to Friendfeed in merging multiple streams (not real time, not well formatted) and most serious users of Buzz have disconnected their other networks and only speak within the Buzz platform.

I feel that the place has really taken on a dynamic of its own in the past month.

Much of this isn't about the platform, its about the social graph. I think that Tim has found the people that he wants to talk to on Twitter and they are all committed Twitterers. A new place means starting again from scratch. That's easy on the internal Google Buzz network but it takes time for a community to build anywhere else. Importing your tweets to Buzz will not make it happen.

In answer to Avi Bryant, I believe that there are no merits at all to the limitations that Twitter imposes. Really once the need to edit your tweets to 140 chars goes and you also gain an ability to follow someone else's conversation I believe a whole level of interaction becomes possible. Seeing replies from people you don't know is the single most useful way to find new and interesting people on Buzz. You judge them first by the quality of their comment and then you can decide whether to follow them by seeing the quality of their posts. Some people are great commenters but may not be great posters, that's OK too but I still want to see their comments.

I know that these remarks can be seen in the light of a committed user of a service. Friendfeed has its fair share of those too. So take with a suitable grain of salt. All I can say is that the people I've met who have overcome the initial impressions and embraced Buzz are loving it.

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From: Bob Aman (Mar 29 2010, at 23:16)

John Hardy: It's a bit more than that. Common usage models for behind-the-firewall-buzz:

* Raise a concern, but you're not sure who the right person to address it to is. @cc the people you know who are closest to the issue, and they in turn @cc the right people.

* Throw out an idea, brainstorm-fashion. @cc a couple of people. As the conversation progresses, the number of interested parties often grows and more people are pulled in. People who don't care simply mute it.

The feature of Buzz that's most useful in an apps-for-your-domain scenario is simply the @cc. Combined with a broadcast medium and enough room (i.e. more than 140 characters), it's really fantastic in this setting. It grows on you fast.

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From: Robert Young (Apr 09 2010, at 05:46)

Siloing is the product of code centric development. Data centric development leads to multiple applications running against a common, controlled datastore. We, as a group of developers, understood that once, but have since turned away. I chalk it up to elders abrogating their responsibilities and allowing youngsters to go off half cocked all the time.

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From: James Ford (Apr 17 2010, at 07:34)

The friend-of-friend display that annoys many of you in FriendFeed can be disabled in a couple of clicks. FriendFeed remembers the setting, so you only need to do it once.

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From: Adam Sloan (Apr 21 2010, at 09:50)

Maybe cross-posting gone wild will be able to keep everything up to date, hopefully fully configurable, in the near future.

This Meebo blog http://www.meebo.com/press/releases/20100418/ talks about XAuth http://xauth.org/info/ and Open Identity Exchange. Big Players are involved

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