I want to preface with an acknowledgment that this entry might come off as a rant, but my intentions are to express an opinion and also note that I take most of Google’s ventures seriously (because I love them sooooo muchhhhh). My observations may also be pre-mature and are subject to change, regardless of what you think of me.
*image courtesy of elontirien
Secondary Disclaimer: Coming from someone who has never studied e-commerce or social behaviors, I have to form my opinions based on personal experience and limited observations.
The attempt to lure an audience with a product that is already functioning in a separate partition of the interwebs (aka Facebook/Twitter), even if a good percentage of that audience is already using Gmail, is like re-inventing the wheel.
For users that dislike facebook, twitter or real-time updates in any form other than a stock ticker, buzz is preaching to the wrong crowd. For users with facebook, who have been pushed by the social tide, but only use facebook sparingly or for non-social activity (apps games like Mafia Wars or Farmville; YES you CAN play these games without making actual contact with others), buzz makes another invasive social obligation out of a simple sanctuary. C’mon, Google! Where do you think I go to escape Facebook?
Who does Buzz (potentially) hurt? Facebook is already a taboo in my workplace. It is simply not proper etiquette to log in and peruse someone’s life while at work. Temptation is curbed by the fact that Facebook can be blocked or flagged here in cubicle-land.
If Buzz reaches that kind of brainless popularity, will Gmail pages be blocked also? How about even iGoogle or Gchat? How will I stay sane at a computer for 8 hours a day without access to my Google Reader? I learn from it! But what will I learn from Buzz? That Joe hates his job? That Bob ate too much at lunch? No thanks. Facebook is where I go to see irrelevant blathering. Google is (or was) a bit more intellectual.
I’m sorry, Google, but I need to you to stay specializing in your field. Innovate. Don’t try to take over a facet of life that I have already allocated to another entity. I need both a doctor and a dentist, but I definitely don’t want them to be the same person.
A friend brought to my attention that Google may have another motive to support this venture.
C J: ah, so this is where i think buzz has potential:
i think i read they’re building algorithms
to auto-cull the things you dont care about
i’d like to see how they go about that
minus a voting mechanism of “like”
which is what they seem to be doing
C J: this is actually quite related to my research
me: i’m a lazy user, and that requires me to be proactive
C J: that’s the math. the problem is this;
suppose i show you two snickers bars.
except one is ever so slightly superior to the other
you would have to try both many times in order to figure out which one is the better one
but everytime you try the worse snickers bar, you lose out a bit. a very small bit, but you lose out many times
C J: so im trying to figure out if you end up missing out on arbitrarily much utility, when the two snickers bars become almost equal in quality.
me: you think my sampling each would equalize my opinion?
assuming one is only marginally superior?
C J: i guess what im saying is,
if you have a snickers and a kitkat
me: because if one is a crapstick and the other is real,
C J: you take one bite of each, and it is obvious the kitkat is superior.
C J: and you will continue eating from the kitkat ad infinitum
C J: but if the two are very very similar
you dont want to prematurely decide on one
you might end up eating snickers forever, when theres a slightly better snickers bar you could have had
me: i see
C J: you end up having infinite regret
which is bad.
im trying to get c* log T regret, where T is how long you’ve been eating, and c is a bounded constant.
me: i guess by a point, i would be consumed by the endeavor to discover which is better and my regret would be overridden
CJ: and yes, this also goes to infinity, but much slower than the c*T you would have from deciding early on
C J: the reason i’m looking at this
well, one of the big applications is ecommerce
if you’re google or amazon and you are placing ads or items for sale
you want to figure out which is the best. best – a tiny bit will cost you a lot of money in the long run
I’m not sure that really justifies anything, but it’s still too early to call shenanigans. Google’s Manifest Destiny will not be without its bumps. (Cough CHINA Cough).
Et tu Brute?
It just makes me sad to abandon this venture because I know somebody somewhere invested time and money into its creation and they had the best intentions for its success, but my dear friend Google has simply doused itself in the wrong cologne, chasing the wrong skirt.
We’ll see how this will culminate.