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Google Buzz: Everything You Need to Know

Okay, so I’m about to throw a new piece of technology at you.  I know, I know, another one?  Well, just when you thought you couldn’t squeeze more tweets, e-mails or iPhone apps into your life, I’m going to toss you just one more.  Allow me to introduce you to Google Buzz.  Yes, it involves Google, and no, bumblebees aren’t included.   

What is Google Buzz?

Google Buzz is Google’s newest social networking service to hit the Internet.  Like Facebook and Twitter, Google Buzz allows users to share links, updates and media with their friends.  Utilizing their Gmail accounts, users can also share status updates, photos and videos with the individuals they e-mail the most frequently.  In addition, friends can also “like” your status updates and comment on them as well.   

But I already have Facebook… and Twitter…

If you’re thinking Google Buzz sounds an awful lot like Facebook and Twitter, you’re right.   But for those of us who obsessively check our e-mail inboxes (guilty as charged), Google Buzz might just be your new favorite technology.

While Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable, admits that Google Buzz “certainly isn’t groundbreaking,” Google Buzz’s integration with Gmail will build a social network for you based upon those people you e-mail most.  According to Cashmore, in Google Buzz, “your address book is your network.”  Basically, while Google Buzz isn’t the most innovative idea to sweep the Internet, it’s one that allows you to get a fresh dose of content from the people you care about most and from a Web site you visit every day (and for some, every hour). 

So why was everyone so mad about it?

But while Google Buzz has proved to be a cool new concept, it initially had a rocky start concerning privacy issues.  This happened when new Google Buzz users were instantly connected to those they frequently e-mailed through Gmail.  Unfortunately, these connections were made public, which was especially problematic for doctors worried about exposing who their patients were and lawyers concerned with disclosing their clients. 

Now that this problem is fixed, you may also be wondering: so where does Google Buzz fit in?  With Twitter being a great medium for public messaging (i.e.: “In NYC.  Anyone know of good restaurants on the UWS [Upper West Side]?”) and Facebook is obviously effective for navigating your personal life (i.e., stalking on that boy in your bio lab), Google Buzz is different because whenever someone contributes to a thread, all participants involved in the thread are automatically notified.  As Cashmore says, “Buzz proves most useful when you’re in search of answers.  Post a question and your friends will weigh in with suggestions, tips and ideas.  It’s a place for inquiry, for learning and collaboration.” 

Cool.  Now how do I use it?

If you have a Gmail account, Google Buzz is automatically built in.  When you click Buzz, you’ll instantly see a feed of posts from the people who you’re following as well as a box for you to post your updates.  When you first begin using Google Buzz, it will offer you suggestions of people to follow based upon whom you frequently e-mail and chat with through Gmail.  To follow them, all you have to do is check the box next to their name, click Follow selected people and voila, you’re gold. 

Want to follow more people?  Click the Find people link at the top of your Buzz page, where you can locate people through searching public profiles.  Don’t want to follow someone anymore?  Simply Unfollow them and you’ll instantly stop following their posts (and they’ll never know!).   

Buzz Basics: How to get started (according to Google)

Post some buzz: Click in the text box next to your name, and share what’s on your mind.

Comment: if you see something in your stream you’d like to comment on, just click the Comment link under that post. Your comment will appear alongside it, and the author of the post will be notified.

Like/unlike: If you don’t have something in particular you want to say, but you just happen to like someone’s post, you can click Like. It will show up on that post that you liked it; if you have a change of heart about something you’ve liked, you’ll see an Unlike link; just click it to remove your name.

Reply by chat: Click this link if you’d like to send a Chat message to the author of an update

Delete comments: You can delete comments people have posted to your buzz, or comments you’ve posted.

@replies: Write @ in front of someone’s username as a way of directing your buzz at that person (it will automatically go to their inbox). You can only use @replies with people who are in your contacts, and other followers won’t be able to see the Gmail username.

Mute: You can mute buzz that appears in your inbox by enabling keyboard shortcuts and pressing the ‘m’ key while you’re reading it. Muting keeps the update from continuing to appear in your inbox as people reply to it.

Link to: Click the down-arrow to the right of a post, and select Link to this buzz. This allows you to send a link to this content.

Email: Click the down-arrow to the right of a post, and select Email; a new Gmail message will open with the buzz content in the subject and message body.

So, HC readers, what’s the verdict on Google Buzz?  Whether you think it’s a sweet deal or a sticky mess, tell us what you think in the Comments section!   






Taylor Trudon (University of Connecticut ’11) is a journalism major originally from East Lyme, Connecticut. She is commentary editor of the student newspaper, The Daily Campus, a blogger for The Huffington Post and is a proud two-time 2009 and 2010 New York Women in Communications scholarship recipient. She has interned at Seventeen and O, The Oprah Magazine. After college, Taylor aspires to pursue a career in magazine journalism while living in New York City. When she's not in her media bubble, she enjoys making homemade guacamole, quoting John Hughes movies and shamelessly reading the Weddings/Celebrations section of The New York Times on Sundays (with coffee, of course).