Skip to main content

Welcome, Google Buzz! Now...where do I comment?

When your engineers have 20% of their time to use on projects of their choosing, you get a lot of interesting product ideas. If nothing else, Google is amazingly unshy about pushing these products and services to their users, even if some start out somewhat incomplete and poorly integrated. Enter Google's newest offering, Google Buzz. Unlike some previous Google attempts at social media, this one is going to work in a big way.

First, Google integrated Buzz right into Gmail, the reason most of us have Google accounts in the first place. There are plenty of seats at the Google Labs table, but not many projects get to sit at the front with Gmail. Second, your contact list pre-establishes a social network. Third, if you use Google Profile, you already had established information about yourself and the content you create. Fourth, if you create content with Blogger or Reader, your Buzz account is pre-primed with content. Who else could have done this? Nobody. (Even though Buzz is more like FriendFeed than anything else, Buzz will succeed where FriendFeed didn't because of these things I've just mentioned. Honestly, though, life might have been easier if the world would have just used FriendFeed from the beginning and forgotten about Twitter and Facebook.)

Posting content is easier than ever, and (thankfully!) sharing that content between services is relatively easy. I can post to Twitter and my tweet automatically shows up in Facebook, FriendFeed, and Buzz. I can take upload a picture from my phone and Flickr automatically sends a tweet, spreading the photo everywhere. (Unfortunately, Facebook, FriendFeed, and now Buzz also monitor Flickr separately, so that photo comes twice.) Social networks almost appear effortless, except for one major thing: COMMENTS.

The interaction of users and content is what makes this social media, but with every new service that interaction gets increasingly fractured. Let's look at my last scenario: posting a picture from my phone to Flickr. If you want to make a comment about that picture, where should you put it? Let's count the choices:
  1. You can comment on Flickr.
  2. You can reply to the tweet generated by Flickr.
  3. You can comment on the photo on Facebook (which pulls the photo from Flickr).
  4. You can comment on the Flickr-generated tweet on Facebook (which pulls the tweet from Twitter).
  5. You can comment on the photo on FriendFeed (which pulls the photo from Flickr).
  6. You can comment on the Flickr-generated tweet on FriendFeed (which pulls the tweet from Twitter).
  7. You can comment on the photo on Buzz (which pulls the photo from Flickr).
  8. You can comment on the Flickr-generated tweet on Buzz (which pulls the tweet from Twitter).
With my current setup, comments could appear in eight different places. I could reduce that if I don't tell Facebook, FriendFeed, or Buzz to watch my Flickr photos (they'd still get the tweets), but those services do a much better job of displaying photos if they know they're from Flickr and not just a URL-shortened link in a tweet. There will be no less than four places to comment on this blog post, and probably double that if I send a tweet announcing the post.

As my friend @jamurra replied to me tonight, "We need a federated comment system on the web." The only service I've seen really attempting to address this problem is Disqus, but it appears they've only been able to partially solve the problem. (I'm not a Disqus user, and if I had more comments on my blog I think I'd be more serious about signing up.) I'm sure people are working on this, but it seems like a technical nightmare. It's easy for data to get copied and distributed; in fact, the internet does exactly that better than any invention known to man. But how to "undistribute" the comments and get them back to one place? Let's hope some smart people at Google are using their 20% time wisely on this one.

Feel free to comment on this post. I'll leave it to you to decide where.


  1. There is already a kind of comment system that integrates a lot of these things: Disqus. It already integrates with Facebook, Twitter and others. From one single pane you can view comments and reactions.
    I'm just hoping that they will integrate Flickr and Buzz aswell


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

My heart is in Boulder but my brain is needed in Denver, so I'm putting my body in Broomfield

I wasn't really joking when I told people the university hands you an eviction notice with your diploma.

The university doesn't do this for everyone, of course, just those of us who live in student housing. I lived in Smiley Court for more than 9 years, longer than I've lived anywhere other than the house I grew up in. It was home, and home can be hard to leave.

Admittedly, the apartment had gotten a bit cramped. It was tight from the start, since I was downsizing from a two-bedroom apartment into a one-bedroom. Adding an extra bicycle and a few hundred books along the way didn't help. The apartment was also miserably hot in the summer, with south- and west-facing brick walls and a location on the top floor. Even with a small air conditioner wedged in the too-small windows, running all day, the temperatures could get over 85 degrees and stay that way past midnight. So it wasn't perfect. But then again, it had this view:

From this apartment I managed to turn myself …


It's the last half-hour of 2017 and I'm pushing out a post to keep my blogging streak alive. I can't imagine this is interesting to anyone else, but that's never really been what this blog is for. I could write more, and maybe I should write more, but the only goal I've had for this blog for a while is to write at least once a year.

The last week of the year has become what I call my period of "hibernation." Between Christmas and the New Year, I stay home, do whatever I want on whatever schedule I want. This year, that meant a lot of nights staying up until 4 am and sleeping until 10 or 11. Other than trips to get food, I pretty much had no social interaction for the week. I don't know that I purposely take this time as a mental vacation, but that's sort of what it is.
I had several goals for this year's hibernation, but the one I've done best to stick to is physical: pedaling my stationary bike 40 miles each day. There is a Strava challe… and Ten Years of Web 2.0

Ten years ago yesterday I scrobbled my first tracks to What's scrobbling? On, scrobbling refers to automatic music track logging to the internet. For me, uploading a record of my music listening habits was my first real experience with "Web 2.0." Remember Web 2.0? It referred to websites of user-generated content that enabled virtual communities and interoperability. Now such sites are too ubiquitous on the web to warrant a special designation — they're just the web. But that wasn't true in 2006, and even though I'd been putting content on the internet since 1996, at the time it was enough to make me a little nervous. What did these strangers want with my data, and what was in it for me?

Ten years and 24,941 scrobbles later, I have my answer: I have a really cool record of all the music I've listened to the past 10 years! Well, not "all," technically: I've certainly listened to music in places and on devices that didn't …