Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Google Buzz: Why Open APIs Matter

This will be the last I say about Buzz for a while. Two posts in a row is one too many, but I really want somewhere to put down this idea so I can just link it every time I get asked the question.

Why is Buzz better than Foursquare/Facebook/Twitter/FriendFeed/etc.?

It's not. Well, it is. But it's not really in competition with them. Asking the question is treating Social Media like a zero-sum game where each social network is a silo, and there can be only one winner, at the expense of every other competitor. But Social Media is not a zero-sum game. You think we'd have learned this already, given all that we've seen in the Internet's brief history.

Once upon a time, our networks were mostly separate silos. We'd log into our favorite community, make contact with a few of our digital friends. Sometimes we'd trade deep conversation, sometimes just a few inside jokes, but mostly useless trash that just let them know we were around. Our friends would introduce us to new friends. We'd play games together, or leave each other messages when we weren't logged in at the same time.

...And then we cancelled our Prodigy account because we could access this new thing called The Internet...

Right now people think of Buzz as "one more social network". This is wrong. Buzz is not just another GEnie to compete with Prodigy or CompuServe. Buzz is HTML and HTTP! (Technically, I think of Buzz as NCSA Mosaic v0.9) Buzz is the first step towards hammering down the agreed-upon protocols that will bind our social networks together.

Some of us will use Buzz directly for social networking (just like many of us accessed the Internet directly on UNIX machines back in the day). Some of us will prefer a more mediated interface, or one we're more comfortable with and will use Facebook, or FriendFeed (just like your Mom continues to use AOL). Some social networking platforms will simply specialize in what they do best (Twitter is already terrible for conversations, but excellent for one-to-many textcasting).

Thanks to the ground forged by Buzz (and it's use of open APIs!!) we can look forward to a future where the platform you prefer to socially network is as irrelevant as the domain name in your e-mail address.

  • You post on Facebook, and I reply on Buzz. Your facebook post is updated with my reply and our friends on both networks see it.
  • You check in on foursquare, and my Buzz layer in Google Maps updates with your check-in, or I see you in my Goggles overlay.
  • I comment on tweets, Youtube videos, blog posts, (each on any number of different platforms) and it gets buzzed. You reply to that Buzz, and it gets linked on the original source page.
  • I have control of my content's privacy, publicy, or some subset in between.
Buzz doesn't add one more splintered shard to the social web, it's the first tool we've really had to start gluing it together. If we're lucky, it can knock down the barriers between the anti-social silos that social networks have become.

This is the future of social.

This is what the Buzz is about.

1 comment:

  1. I also like that I didn't have to DO anything to get Buzz, except have a Gmail account, and I don't have to wait for friends to catch on and sign up. They're already there. If it were some blinky, loud, annoying thing, auto-in would be bad, but it's from Google and they don't really do blinky loud annoying.

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