Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Google Buzz Re-Invents Gmail

by Tim O'Reilly

When I first heard about Google Buzz, I was worried that I might be seeing the birth of another "me too" product. After all, everyone wants a piece of the Twitter halo. But with the release of Buzz today, you can see how Google has taken the social media lessons of Twitter and applied them to their own core products.

I'm especially fond of Gmail Buzz, which adds the power of asymmetric following to email.

AWESOME idea. There are many of us for whom email is still our core information console, and our most powerful and reliable vehicle for sharing ideas, links, pictures, and conversations with the people who constitute our real social network. But up till now, we could only share with explicitly specified individuals or groups. Now, we can post messages to be read by anyone. Sergey Brin said that Buzz gives the ability "to post a message without a 'to' line." That's exactly right - something that in retrospect is so brilliantly obvious that it will soon no doubt be emulated by every other cloud-based email system.

Buzz items can be shared directly in Gmail, but are also pulled in from other social sharing sites, including Twitter, Picasa, YouTube, and Flickr.

What's particularly cool is that the people you "follow" are auto-generated for you out of your email-based social network. If you communicate with them, they are the seed for your buzz cloud. Over time, as you like or dislike buzz entries from that network, the buzz cloud adapts.

Google has also done a neat hack on the Twitter @name syntax, allowing you to prefix @ to an email address to have a message show up for sure in that user's Gmail Inbox. Saying @foo@gmail.com (or @foo@bar.com) will put a message into foo's Buzz cloud in the same way as saying @foo does on Twitter, but it will also show up in their Gmail Inbox, to make sure they see it. You can also make messages private to only named recipients or groups. (I love this - right now, I have two Twitter accounts, one for public sharing, and another for private sharing.)

Read the full article here.


  1. Just saw the YouTube intro. Amazing! This is a game changer.

  2. I don't know...the fanboy reviewer loves it (he's probably 25-30), but my two teenage daughters, both of whom have google email accounts, are not impressed. To them, Facebook is #1 because that's where their friends hang out. Unless the neighborhood gets seedy (MySpace), that's where they'll probably stay.

  3. 25-30?? I take it back; a quick image search shows him to be 40++. While neat hacks, 'brilliantly obvious' metaphors, and cool 'buzz-speak' thrills old techies wanting to be hip, it doesn't thrill the youngsters who just want to share photos and yack with their friends where everybody goes.