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What’s the Buzz? Google Evolves Again

By Bliss Davis, Bowling Green State University Journalism Student

I remember when Google was simply the place you went to look up stuff.  I also remember when Gmail was in its invite-only phase a few years ago.   It has now officially entered the social media sphere with its latest launch: Google Buzz.  Technically, Google Wave was probably its first dabble with social media, but Buzz is more akin to classic social media, via its interface and use. With the introduction of the Nexus One smartphone in January and Google Buzz yesterday, it’s obvious Google has intentions on literally connecting people and information.

Google Buzz itself looks like a Facebook/Twitter hybrid. In fact it seems nearly identical to the News Feed feature on Facebook. Looking at Pete Cashmore’s ( profile it even reminds me of the original Facebook user interface. To get a real feel of Google Buzz though, (and actually be credible in this post), I set up my own Buzz profile.

If you already have a Gmail account, registering for Google Buzz is easy. I kept mine fairly skeletal in terms of the information I put on it since I won’t likely be using it regularly. Right off the bat I had a minor bone to pick with the registering process. If using your Gmail account Google Buzz only has two options to for personalizing your URL – your email name or a long set of numbers. In fact, Google even gives a warning that using your Gmail name as your Google Buzz account URL may present some security issues for you. I heeded this warning and chose the numbers option. Thankfully there is the option to allow people to contact you without revealing your email address in the URL.

Google Buzz has the typical features of a social media site plus some. Google and have the full list of features Buzz supports, including “@” replies to other users and automatic following. Shortcuts in Gmail will work in Buzz as well.

Overall, Google Buzz doesn’t seem to be too different from the host of other social media sites. I’m definitely keep an eye on it to see how it takes off. Because of its ability to pinpoint your location, it will likely become a mobile staple for those in urban areas. I can also see something like becoming especially useful for those who stay on the go.

For journalists it could be a new way to connect with colleagues. Twitter-like features found on Buzz could potentially be appealing to those who want to avoid Twitter, especially because you have the ability to connect with your professional contacts via email. Someone with an account specifically created to handle professional emails will find this useful for something like the annual convention. Logging in to find where your friends and colleagues are located can save you from wasted time and headaches. The possibilities are endless and I’m sure there are many more ways you could use Buzz to your professional advantage.

There is a host of info about Google Buzz, but I’ve yet to answer these questions: How does Buzz plan to hold up against Twitter, Facebook or Foursquare? What makes Buzz uniquely different and innovative?

In the meantime, I’ve set up my own Google Buzz page here:

Have you set up your own Google Buzz account? Do you plan on using Google Buzz in the future?  What other social media tools do you use to do your job?  Tell us about it in the comments section.  Thanks!



Home of the National Association of Black Journalists's (NABJ's) Digital Journalism Task Force

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