Snow Child Left Behind

In my last post, I mentioned a speed networking event I intended to blog about today.  Then the snow started coming down…and didn’t stop.  Instead of the speed networking experience, I and my snowbound cyberfriends discovered Google Buzz.  This blog explores the wide range of reactions to this new social networking tool.

On Tuesday, February 9, 2010, Google released it’s entry, called Buzz, into the wild world of Social Networks.  For those of us in the northeast, the timing could not have been better.  On Wednesday, the Snowpocolypse, Snowmageddon, Snoverkill, call it what you will, forced us networking types to hover in front of our computer screens bemoaning this new offense by our snow overlords.

Then people started logging in to their gmail accounts.

I have a gmail account; I opened it about 2 months ago when Apple sent me the renewal notice for my MobileMe account.  I’ve had that account since 2002 when the services Apple offered couldn’t be found elsewhere and were a great deal at $99/year.  These days, Google offers all the same services for free.  So what was I paying for?

Apparently, like any addict, I paid to support my habit.  I haven’t logged in to that gmail account since I created it, so I missed the arrival of Buzz via gmail.  However, many Twitter users I follow saw it and cried “foul”!  By now, we’ve all read or heard  about blogger Harriet Jacobs’ post regarding Google’s disregard for her privacy and safety.  Google thought it was doing her a favor by automatically making her abusive ex-husband a “friend” on this new network based on email contact.

Throughout the snowstorm, complaints ranged from this invasion of privacy to @yuricon’s comment, “Google wants to be your only utensil.  I prefer eating with a fork, knife, and spoon.”  I compared it to our school’s BBS system; lots of posts from a few people about absolutely nothing.  Quite a few former students agreed.  Then I saw the message from my principal in my school email announcing his Buzz account.

Herein lies the source of the title of this blog.

The District I work in has been very vigilant in restricting access in the schools to social networking sites like Facebook, applications like Skype, and collaboration sites like TodaysMeet. Part of the freshman computer curriculum includes an internet safety unit which takes most of it’s tone from the old “Scared Straight” programs of the ‘70s.  A few years ago, a teacher was criticized for having a MySpace account.  Now our principal has a Buzz account?

I understood his decision not to go on Twitter like @NMHS_Principal; Twitter’s public and unregulated interface didn’t work for him.  Facebook is too personal, LinkedIn too professional.  I wondered why of all platforms he chose Buzz?

“It’s where my calendar is,” he told me when I asked him on the day we made it back in to school.  I couldn’t disagree; after all, I have yet to kick my addiction to Apple’s all in one MobileMe.  Students continually complain when teachers ask them to use yet another online platform to complete assignments, in many instances just to meet the new 21st century technology requirements.  Ning, TodaysMeet, Google Docs, SchoolTube – how many many different sites can we ask them to use during one day?

So while @yuricon’s labeling of Buzz as the “Social Media Spork” may seem appropriate to many, my experience in education and with human nature may prove otherwise.  My principal’s comment brought to mind how intimidating it is to sit down at a formal dinner, glance down, and see at least four utensils on either side of your place setting!  For many, the multitasking ease of using a spork makes the meal less stressful and that much more enjoyable.  The same can be said for Buzz and therein lies the seed of Google’s possible success with this new platform.

Have an opinion about social media? Active in social networking at the Jersey Shore? Then become a guest blogger at VoxPopNJ!  Posts should be 300 – 600 words in length.  Contact Laura Gesin for more information & submission guidelines.

8 responses to “Snow Child Left Behind

  1. Personally I see no use for Google Buzz. Just as I see no use for Google Wave. I’ve always followed my grandmother’s advice of not keeping all of my eggs in one basket. I love having a diversity of different tools doing things for my business and myself. Why not have a uni-tasker like Google? I’m just not comfortable relying on one company to cover all of my needs; even if that company is larger than life. What happens if one day we wake up and Google is gone?
    Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick to my freedom of choice, diversity and scattering my eggs all over the place.

  2. Michele – I debated the “Buzz as Spork” take vs. “Google as the new evil Empire (Microsoft)” when choosing how to proceed with this blog post. I’m a fan of the big 5: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube & Flickr. Don’t believe I will jump on the Buzz bandwagon just yet, but there is an audience out there that will. I know Cortland is a big proponent already!

    Thanks for the comment – keep ’em coming!

  3. Another reason that I have no need to jump on the Buzz bandwagon is that my main Gmail account is my generic email address.I do use Gmail for my business and my blog; however they are hosted through Google Sites and Buzz is not supported on that platform. Google should have thought that through before launching Buzz. I don’t see it as a business tool because it is not available to me as one.
    I’m standing firm on not keeping all of my eggs in one basket.

  4. Let’s see…

    Instantly installed user base in the millions, no character limit, photos/videos auto-embedded, comments and permalinks. And, oh yeah, tons of Google juice and valuable placement in the SERP.

    This has nothing to do with eggs, baskets or sporks and everything to do with mobile, mainstream, a flexible and fun publishing platform and Google’s social push.

    Who cares what it’s connected to or what larger system it’s a part of? Don’t pre-judge the value of what the tool can do based upon the color and brand of the tool box.

    Or, just forget everything I mentioned and let your competition dominate the channel!

  5. Count me as a fan – i’m all about the concept of bringing all of my social connections under one roof.

    The easier the systems make it for us to communicate, the more we have time to focus on building the relationships, which is what translates to business. I like the fact that I can check my emails, update my calendar, and keep up with my friends all from one centralized dashboard. Not to mention there’s no farmville happening yet!

  6. Excellent idea Brian! Want to be followed? list your profile here!

    http://www.google.com/profiles/roxy1364

    (the roxy address is a legacy from that MobileMe account I’m trying to kick!)

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