Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's the Buzz on Buzz?

At first glances Google's new Buzz service might just seem like another "throw it on the pile network and, to be honest, it doesn't offer quantity of game changing new features that other Google producs have in the past, like Gmail and Google Voice. However, I can see at least one striking feature that sets Buzz apart.
If you are all ready using your mobile device for updating twitter more than you use a desktop client then Buzz adds an interesting social dynamic to certain events. All ready, some people have used the ability to see and respond to a Buzz in your area, such as during the recent "Snowpocalypse" where people where buzzing about what was going on right in their immediate area. This geographically links social networks to time and events. An ad-hock social network can pop up connecting people involved in an event at a specific time and place to share information and partake in conversations without having to search endless useless tags of mostly the same unverified information and without have to have prior knowledge as to who is there with them.
This gives a whole new spin on the usefulness of social networks. Imagine being at an event such as the Olympics. You can get real time updates of events from actual observers that are at the event with you. While no credentials come with the information the fact that you can see that they are at least at the event adds more weight the information's accuracy.
In times of crisis being able to get information from people near you can be a life saver. Imaging how different events like Columbine, 911 and Hurricane Katrina would have been if life saving information could have traveled to the people who need it in real time. Police could track suspects based on eye witness accounts. Information on road closures and medical supplies could be relayed. Lives will be saved! It could even make it less boring to sit in a traffic jam. This kind of spontaneous social interaction could have a profound impact on the outcome of events.
There, of course, will be a negative impact to all of this. Less privacy, people who take advantage and the ever present trolls of the internet but all and all I think that location information coupled with social networking could be an extremely powerful force.
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