My gmail account got “buzzed” yesterday, and I checked it out. (While I do work for Google part-time, I knew very little about this product previously.) My initial impression is that this is indeed the “social app” for my generation: the email generation. I have to admit that I never caught up with the younger generation who feels at home at Facebook or Twitter (or, frankly, even SMSing). I know that for the young of today email is something that “your teacher uses to talk to your parents”, but, hey, I am these teacher and parents. So while I wonder with everyone how the Google Buzz vs. Twitter/Facebook thing will go in general, Buzz seems to fit my demographic quite well.
To start with, it lives where I live — in the email. Just this tiny fact may make a huge difference for me, since I rarely bother entering Twitter or Facebook neither to check things out, nor to write a trivial message. Now, for example, I can follow Lance’s Twitter on Buzz. The zero-effort of buzzing means that I can even see myself Buzzing (is this the term that’s go’na catch instead of tweeting?). Second, as buzz was automatically populated with many of my email contacts, I almost immediately have stuff to look at. So far certainly almost all buzz that I’ve seen is from the nerdier side of my contacts, but that can change very quickly, if I extrapolate from what I see so far. Furthermore, as the default of the “profile” page is to show the list of those that you follow or that follow you, it’s easy to “browse the followship graph” and find even more interesting people t0 follow. (Tao is buzzing too, and once you follow him you also get the items he shares from the blogs he reads.)
A bunch of other design choices also seem appropriate for me: from the simplicity of it all, to the directed followship graph (a la twitter) which is easier to swallow for me than the undirected friendship graph of Facebook. I haven’t tried yet the geo/mobile features (I’m still 2G), or the targeted buzzing to specific subgroups, but at least their description seems simple enough.
To conclude: so far I’m a fan, with two main worries: (1) the overload of information with its time-sink effect will certainly get worse, and (2) while I rarely felt the need to be careful about my privacy online previously, I do feel the need for care in handling my privacy with Buzz.