Yesterday, Google took a moment to unveil its jump into the social media pool, Buzz. It’s an interesting step, I had long predicted that Facebook was building itself so that it would be purchased by Google, but then it started to become clear the two didn’t need one another. Buzz transforms Gmail accounts into Facebook-like platforms in which users connect with friends and family, share photos and videos, and generally waste time. But Google has carefully studied Facebook’s limitations and hopes that by solving Facebook’s problems, it’ll carve at least a piece of this market out for itself. And users will be able to seamlessly switch from e-mail to Google Buzz with a single click, keeping them snugly within the Google universe.
An article in Slate prompted; Buzz is “intriguing” but it will “take a lot to lure Facebookers away from their profiles, their friend networks, photo albums, and addicting games. It may be especially difficult to get Facebook users who don’t have Gmail to both switch e-mail services and social networks to Buzz”. That’s true, but if Facebook starts thinking that way they’ll quickly be the next Myspace
A Short Social History of Facebook
My first Facebook encounter happened my sophomore year of college, in a sorority house. My good friend wanted me to check out his girlfriend’s “super hot big sister”. I didn’t entirely get it, but I was into the idea that said “super hot big sister” posteed photos of herself dancing on tables and breaking hearts at Charlie O’s. A few months later my school joined the community, and my nightly homework of economic analysis was happily traded in for searching Facebook for attractive people (that was the point in the first place!). In it’s early stages Facebook was only open to users with an .edu e-mail address. That’s a pretty inclusive crowd, but even people with that requirement felt some dissonance ( i.e. search the “groups” section of any early CCRI adapter and you might find the ” Why is CCRI in This Shit?” group). This created a certain social articulation for Facebook, I can remember my roommate’s critique of Facebook’s one time rival, Myspace, which was for “bands, art-fags, and sluts” (Myspace is the milieu that produced Tila Tequila, we’ve yet to see a Facebook equivalent). Whether acknowledging it or not, Facebook was shaped around the symbiosis of youthful needs; acceptance, individuality and privacy.
That tacit agreement was broken when people got their first friend requests from Parents, distant family members, bossess etc, etc. “Why is my mom friending me on Facebook?!?!?!” was the chorus heard on pretty much every campus. Facebook had become a public space, and while adding economic capital it lost a lot of social capital, people became much more aware of what and who was operating within the space. It was not the door stop that it used to be. Undoubtedly, my assessment comes from being within the generation who fostered in social media, and now I’m growing old with it, I need it to adapt with me.
This hit a zenith other day when I received the request to become a “fan” of John J. Lombardi*. Fair enough, he seems like a good guy with some solid policy solutions, but there was a problem with this
1) I’m not a registered voter in RI. So what is this worth?
2) “Fans” carry no inherit value (this is what most people get wrong with social media), What “fandom” can do is allow you a platform to convert “fans” into teams of marketers, promoters and activists. A group of the right twenty people can be more beneficial than a group of 2,000.
This is why I think Buzz is interesting. For me, Facebook has become a space of casual associations, while my Gmail account has access to more academics, politicians, and business associates. Gmail/Buzz also gives me access to their functional e-mail address. I wouldn’t suggest that e-mail accounts alone can actualize value of networks, but a dialogue can be started without being intruded upon by someone’s Farmville updates.
So for now that might be where Buzz is at, a better version of Linkedin. But that’s only from my vantage point, there are plenty of people who are feed up with Zuckerburg’s views on personal privacy and Facebook’s addiction to changing the interface on users. oh! and the academics. All of which will bring new evaluations to how people can, and will, work with social media.
Google certainly has it’s ear to the pulse of the clouds
– Yikes, Latour and Lovnik?!?! I’m amazed I have a girlfriend
*This is not a criticism of Mr. Lombardi, from his Facebook he certainly seems to have built a passionate group, it was just an example that got me thinking about similar situations that have occurred in the past