Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shaken By Buzz

The Google Buzz nag screen's come up a few times the last couple of weeks and I was foolish to ignore it and proceed to my mailbox. Reading a very uncomplimentary article on this latest Google offering, prompted me to go check what it was all about. I was shocked to find that I was following some people and others were following me - that my chat status updates would be broadcast to pretty much anyone who had ever mailed me. To say I was outraged would be understating it.

Clearly, you have limited rights when you get a service for free but what Google has done here is beyond egregious. Most likely none of us knew what was happening to us. In a mad rush to get into the social media and buzz business, Google had prodded us against our will into sharing with each other what we may not want to. Apparently, they learned nothing from Facebook's recent experience with hijacking their user's right to privacy.

While a Gmail account is a personal email address, not all contacts are alike - J's dance teacher, a former co-worker, my neighbor, old friends, new acquaintances are very different from each other and I may not want to share things alike with all of them as Google has taken upon itself to do. I had to unfollow myself and block those who were following me just to get back to where we were before Buzz happened. Even after having done all that, I don't feel particularly safe as far as my privacy. What if they decide to sneak up and share other things without first giving me a choice to opt out.

Used to be that Google was about one thing - Search. Also used to be that they were not Evil. First there was Wave and now there is Buzz, a month later it will something else because there is the cool new thing that everyone's checking out and Google will want in on the action. The way things are, it is hard to decide what they want their users to do though the least they could do is to leave us alone.

While the landing page is still minimalist, the clutter, confusion and general lack of cohesion is not any different from Yahoo - it's just a couple of clicks away instead of being in your face. The result is no different - Google like Yahoo is losing focus and history is known to repeat itself. This reminds me of what a buddy who works for Microsoft told me once "Wait for a few years and Google bashing will become even more fashionable than Microsoft bashing".

1 comment:

Dodo said...

NIce blog. I couldn't find follow me widget on your blog. Please put the same so that I can follow your blog.