The NITK Numbskulls Page

The Mandatory Google Buzz Whine

Posted in analysis, geek, Review by wanderlust on February 12, 2010

I am totally totally totally peeved with Google Buzz. I hate it like I have hated no other website on the Internet. I think I liked the “Most Irritating Website”  [You've seen it and linked a dozen friends to it, the one with the annoying seemingly-neverEnding stream of popups] more than Google Buzz.

Here’s why.

  • I normally wake up groggy and un-grog myself by checking mail. In that groggy state, I opted to try out Buzz. I have never stopped regretting it. More of my groggy phone calls have gone better. Including the ones where I’ve solved math problems.
  • The interface. Cluttered as hell. Not very intuitive. Google would really do well to hire more people in the Human-Computer Interaction space. Either that, or more CS departments should offer a mandatory introduction to good interface design.
  • Wrong heuristics on pre-adding people. They seem to have gone for recency of email/chat this time. This is turning out even worse than my gmail going crazy and adding random people on gTalk. People who were pre-added include random professors, people on the same mailing lists as I am – which included tons of people I had never heard of.
  • Which means I had to spend the entire morning blocking names I didn’t recognize. Mind you, this is not an easy task for me. Especially since my cousins, aunts and uncles have been known to me for twenty-odd years as ‘Mona Akka’, ‘Balu Anna’, ‘Viju Perima’,  ‘Chintu’  and ‘Vikki’…. how am I supposed to know you people are actually called ‘Smita Manjunath’, ‘Nagalakshmi Balakrishnan’, ‘Balamurali Chandrashekaran’, or have email IDs like ‘viv2cool’ and ‘amit_123′.
  • And then I made the mistake of clicking ‘OK’ when it told me random people called Satish, Archana and Amit were following me. Now there’s no damn way to block someone after that. Unless you try clicking on the link in their name and go to their profile and click on ‘Block’ there.
    Except that, most times, there is no link in their name.
  • Why block, you may ask. This place is scary! I’ve got more lovShip frandSip requests in two days on Buzz than all the time I’ve been on Orkut AND Facebook. And seeing such things IN your inbox, right under your friends’ comments is rather unsettling.
  • The whole point of a social networking site was the anonymity and control you had. You could just refuse to login and keep your activity under control. And you could be whatever you wanted, hide whatever information you wanted. When it gets tied to a concrete thing like your Gmail ID and all your activities on it, it begins to feel like an intrusion of your personal space. You want to keep social networking at an arm’s length.
  • And this is all those social networking sites without the safety net and other checks. You didn’t like someone contacting you on Orkut, you could block them, report them, send them to jail. And Twitter… you can block people, as we all know. You can even make your profile not show up on search results on Facebook. Things get too painful, you can just delete your profile. And Buzz? Hardly any privacy features. And if there are any, they are too well-hidden for me to find. More hidden than me on Buzz anyway.
  • The pre-adding of Picasa and Reader as your ‘Connected Sites’. Hell, my shared feeds are not public. Shouldn’t it be opt-in and not opt-out? I spent the rest of the morning disallowing random folks from following me on Reader.
  • My battle with Google Reader is well-known.The main source of humongous number of unread feeds are Shared Feeds. Now if I just don’t log in to Reader, my unread count doesn’t bother me. But now with Buzz, the interface is cluttered with shared feeds. And if it is of those copious sharers, God help me. I did the rest of the world a favour and turned off Google Reader on Buzz.
  • And what’s with the irritating email alert on GTalk when someone replies to some buzz of yours? Totally unnecessary.
  • With other sites, you know who knows how much. Or, at the very least, you are aware of what is totally public. Here, everything was private yesterday, and today your soul is bared to the whole world and his sister.

All in all, a bad piece of software engineering. Seems like an idiotic hackjob, the stuff that FinalYear projects are (mostly) made of. And what’s with going live right away? Why didn’t they go through the whole GMail Labs – Beta Test route? Google hasn’t done their homework. It doesn’t make you any less geeky-cool if you invest in a few more HCI folks. Seriously, guys.

I wouldn’t really care about the interface, but the privacy aspect is so, so troubling. Your list of followers ends with “..and x followers who don’t have a public profile’. Who are these people? Stalkers?

Folks at Google, get this. Email is a private activity. As private as it can get online. It’s the innermost circle of your existence on the Internet. Bringing the whole world into my inbox is not my idea of social networking.

Google Buzz Off.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers