Tag Archives: BlueTwit

Why I Am Ignoring Google Buzz

Note: This post is purely personal opinion based on my preferences and work style. If your are looking for an analysis of Google Buzz based on methodical primary research, abort now.

I have heard many people say that their email inbox is the mother of all social networks. For me, however, email is  the antithesis of a well-built, functioning social network, because it is a communication channel, not a collaboration enabler.

I value my social networks because I can work with members of those communities to get things done. When I worked at IBM, a very large company, my email inbox was more of a proxy for the organizational hierarchy than an instantiation of my social graph. Too much of my email activity was about low value (or value-less) communications and interactions imposed by command and control culture and systems. When I needed to communicate something up or down IBM’s or a project’s chain of command, I used email. When I needed to get something done, I contacted collaborators on Sametime (IBM’s instant messaging product), the phone, or BlueTwit (IBM’s internal-only, experimental microblogging system). In short, the contacts in my large corporation email address book were more reflective of the organizational structure than of my collaborative networks.

That is precisely why Google Buzz is a non-starter for me. The Google Contact list on which it is based does not represent my collaborative network, on which I rely to get work done. Very few of the people with whom I collaborate are represented, because I don’t interact with them via email. At least not often. A quick analysis of my Google Contacts list shows that Google Voice usage contributes more actionable, valuable additions to the list than does Gmail. My Gmail inbox is filled with communications, not action items, and most of them are low-value messages from application and service vendors whose tools I have downloaded or use online.

Google’s design of Buzz demonstrates ignorance of (or disregard for?) the reality that many social interactions happen outside of email. Had I wanted to use my Google Contacts list as a social network, I would have imported it into FriendFeed months ago. Strike One.

I just mentioned FriendFeed, which was my primary social network aggregator for several months. One of the reasons I backed away from heavy usage of FriendFeed was because it became little more than another interface to the Twitter stream. Yes, it is easy to inject updates from other sources into the FriendFeed flow, but, in reality, the vast majority of updates cam from Twitter (and still do.)

I see the same thing happening with Buzz. Too many people have linked their Twitter accounts, so that everything they tweet is duplicated in Buzz. And Buzz doesn’t allow for integration of the vast number of information resources that FriendFeed does. Talk about low-value. Strike Two.

I have not taken enough swings at Google Buzz yet to have recorded Strike Three. So, for now, I have not turned Buzz off. However, I am ignoring it and will not experiment again until Google provides integration with more external social networks.

In the meanwhile, I am still looking for a social tool that blends contacts and information streams from many sources, but lets me filter the flow by one or more sources, as desired. That would allow me to work both formal organizational and informal social networks from the same tool. Gist is promising in that regard, but needs to be able to capture information from more sources with corresponding filters. Hopefully, someone will read this post and either point me to an existing solution or build it. Until then, I will have to continue using multiple tools to communicate and collaborate.

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Shifting Sands

sand-dunesI’ve noticed a pronounced shift in my synchronous online communication activity lately.  In this post, I’ll share details and then ask whether or not you are experiencing a similar shift and why.

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I began using Twitter and IBM’s internal equivalent, BlueTwit, about three months ago.  I know — way late to the game, but better late than never!  Since then, I have found that tweeting has replaced IMing as my preferred method of communicating virtually in real-time.  That’s true both behind and beyond the IBM firewall.

There are probably several reasons for this shift, but in retrospect I believe they can be summed up in one statement:

It’s about us, not you or me.

In the Twittersphere, communication is generally addressed to the collective rather than to an individual.  You can post a question to no one in particular and quickly get an answer back (or, more likely, several answers!)  Conversely, information can easily be shared instantaneously with several people.

Twitter expands real-time communication to a one-to-many model, as opposed to IM, which was created to facilitate person-to-person, synchronous communication.  I explained this difference to my wife just last night, when she asked me with whom I was twittering.  When I explained how I interact with the Twittersphere, she looked at me as if I was a crazy man talking to thin air in public!

Isn’t it more productive to share what you know or what you are learning with everyone, rather than just one person?

The belief in the verity of the affirmative answer to that question has driven me to nearly stop using IM altogether and communicate almost exclusively via Twitter and BlueTwit.  Perhaps I’ve had an epiphany much like my colleague, Luis Suarez, had regarding the use of social software instead of e-mail (chronicled here.)  More likely, it was my non-techie wife’s innocent question and disbelieving reaction that made me realize that my online synchronous collaboration channel of choice had changed, probably irreversibly, and why the shift had occurred.

How about you?  Has tweeting begun to occupy a larger percentage of your real-time virtual communication activity, at the expense of IMing?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  Please share your thoughts in a comment below.  If the accumulated feedback is interesting enough, I might create a short, quantitative survey on the topic!