If there’s anyone who has the inside track on Buzz and all things social media related, it’s TechCrunch super-reporter MG Siegler. He’s waited two weeks to weigh in on Buzz good bad and ugly, and it turns out that Buzz is FriendFeed — or will be. In the interests of setting the record straight, let me set the record straight.
1. Buzz is not FriendFeed. If it were, it would be being used by a vanishingly small minority of social media experts who have no life. Instead, it is being used by millions of privacy-invaded geniuses who apparently either have had the intelligence to understand that they get what they click for (understanding the meaning of Yes, I’m clicking here for a service I am being offered for free) or are just hopelessly trapped in a bigco system where they have no rights and can only just keep clicking in hopes of finding the way out.
2. If Buzz is going to become FriendFeed, only with real friends, then Google has some secret ability to turn an overly complex non-viral site into a massive multiplayer gaming system disguised as an extension to email. Wait, we call that Brizzly. Failing the secret stuff, just following the playbook already laid out in detail by FriendFeed seems guaranteed to produce a community of Scoble hiders, er, muters, at such massive scale that it will take more (hu)man-years of work than went into building all the useless Twitter lists.
3. Buzz is not FriendFeed because project manager Buzz Jackson denies ever looking at FriendFeed because Google is busy getting feedback from users who didn’t know the product existed until 2 weeks ago. That leaves internal testing, which if you accept the premise that small is ugly and huge is beautiful would mandate ignoring the most sophisticated testing suite so far, namely FriendFeed. Of course, it’s total bullshit that Buzz hasn’t looked at FriendFeed. Just not enough, according to MG.
4. This small is ugly theory of disruption suggests that only massive organisms can effect change. Like the iPhone for example, which was such a resource-hungry project that Apple had to slow down the release of the next version of OS/X to build the iPhone OS out. Or that Google had to invest in a browser, an OS, and a cloud app suite in order to catch up and present an alternative that in turn would ratify the superduper phone as the dominant platform around which everything revolves.
5. If FriendFeed is ugly, therefore, it’s because it has no users and therefore has lost its battle for existence. If that were true, then Buzz will have to morph away from being FriendFeed in order to escape the curse of complexity, or the various labels that add up to looking down the nose at sophisticated (or enterprise) users of the infostream. Twitter is random, so mining Twitter is like panning for fools gold. Twitter, meet Benioff.
But if Buzz proves anything so far, it’s that nobody seems to have figured out how to solve all these next-stage problems any better than the FriendFeed designers. OK, who’s done any better? MG hasn’t mentioned anything that comes close to encouraging me to download any other Twitter client, although I just downloaded Seismic for Android while I was looking for Skype and not finding it. Given that we’re on the cusp of craving lists for Buzz, I’m not wasting any more of my ignoring time on Twitter lists, thereby not needing to upgrade Tweetie on my iPhone.
6. Meanwhile on the political front, the battle rages between Dave Winer, the personal savior of us from ourselves and our inability to ignore flashy shiny social media trinkets, and Dave Winer, the author and campaign manager of RSS 3.0 as told to him by PuSH architects Fitzpatrick and Slatkin. So far it’s a dead heat, where our naivete about the pernicious use of open standards by bigcos or those who work there is assuaged by our lack of concern for the 12 sites that use RSSCloud. Far be it from these Silicon Valley geniuses to write some sort of PuSH WordPress patch to pick up these folks. Oh wait….
7. So we wait in some sort of horrible limbo/hell for Buzz to become FriendFeed or Facebook to clone Buzz by inventing its own Gmail and bolting FriendFeed back on. The only problem is that Microsoft already bought Yahoo to do that and might make another such “offer” to Facebook that Zuckerberg might not want to refuse. Never mind the sticky details that Yahoo is still “a separate company” or that MIcrosoft doesn’t need to buy 400 million users. A Silverlight Office would immediately have a huge social graph to bungle privacy with.
8. Remember Twitter? Nope, me neither.
9. Bonus thing to ponder while waiting in limbo/hell: which platform will work best with the iPad, Buzz, FriendFeed, or Silverlight Office? It’s a trick question, because FriendFeed is the only real product at the moment, which is T minus 30 days. Let’s say I’m sitting on my couch (see this week’s Gillmor Gang for couch discussion) and watching the river flow. Dave Winer and Dare Obasanjo float by with anti-Google slime: Winer pointing at a Valleywag smear about Eric Schmidt that I glance at to check the date (today) and then veer off to find a hand sanitizer, and a more thoughtful polemic on Lifehacker from Obasanjo that continues Dare’s theme that Google abuses open. I give this one a 20 second skim and maybe park for further ignoring later.
Next I check email (oh wait, that means any Buzz’s directed erroneously at me as well as FriendFeed discussions I’m tracking privately.) I bounce over to Silverlight Office/Chatter/Yammer and check what’s up at the office, then catch up on New York Times, TechCrunch, Wall Street Journal, sample the interactive liner notes of the new David Sanborn record playing in the background, and keep an eye on news alerts before the White house press briefing direct feed lights up. The flow settles in to a pleasant stroll of stored value interspersed with intermittent propaganda, random news/press releases, and ancient grudge fights about seemingly nothing but really core features of the new iPad OS.
10. FriendFeed is the OS we use to manage Buzz until it is borged. For no other reason that Buzz provides million of constant reasons why we need the social graph filtering and uber-location gestures that inform and cultivate realtime conversations. Nexus One is the closest thing to the iPad for now, and will then become the glue between iPad sessions. Twitter becomes a familiar child actor we watch playing with the kids while we talk politics and sports with cigars and brandy.
Imagine a slider: slide all the way to the left, it’s Buzz. In the middle, it’s Salesforce Chatter, all the way to the right, Silverlight Office. The iPad is your console, your concierge to the new rebooted media services. In this new post-beta world, applications are works in progress, not good or bad, finished or broken. Companies are bought not for features or people but as brushes in an emerging palette. Obasanjo calls Buzz a poorly implemented FriendFeed clone. I read about it in FriendFeed, and the fix in Buzz.