Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Buzz profile problem: I am Legion

My name is Legion; for we are many many (Mark 5-9).

I am father, brother, in-law, son, and spouse. I am coach. I am volunteer. I am citizen and activist. I am a physician. I am an (adjunct) professor. I am an oddity in a large, conservative, publicly traded corporation. In the corporation I am a team member, known to some customers, occasionally publicly facing, known in various ways and various places. I have other roles and have had many more over time.

I am Legion. So are most middle-aged persons.

Only one person knows all the roles and all of the stories that are not excruciatingly boring (hi Emily).

That’s the problem with Google Buzz, and why my Google Profile doesn’t include my pseudonymous (John Gordon) blog postings or my Google Shared items.

Buzz is tightly linked to my Google Profile, and my Profile is trivially discoverable. I don’t want corporate HR or a customer or business partner to instantly know that I’m a commie pinko Obamafanboy with a dysfunctional Steve Jobs relationship.

I have LinkedIn as my bland corporate face, and, despite Facebook’s innate evilness, a FB profile for friends and family. Inside the corporation I’ve a blog that serves as a limited persona.

We all have many roles, identities, avatars, personae, limited liability personae, characters, facets and so on. The problem with Buzz today is that it’s tied to the Google Profile, and that profile is the closest thing to my unified public face. It crosses boundaries. So it can only hold the limited information channels that are available to all.

Google gets some things right, and a ton of things wrong. They take a statistical, loosely-coupled, evolutionary approach to technology development (the exact inverse of Jobs the Intelligent Designer). I’m looking forward to where Buzz goes, but I’ll be cautious for a time. They can start by giving us more control over what aspects of the overall Buzz connection stream appear on our public profiles.

Update 2/11/10: More on the mess-up. Google really didn't think this through very well. They may end up feeding the families of a number of lawyers. I'm sure they weren't dumb enough to roll this out in the EU, but if they did the fines may be significant.


Unknown said...

I do agree. When I went into gmail today I was faced with the Buzz logo. It has picked up everyone with a Gmail address I have ever emailed and they are automatically watching me. I had no choice in the matter. There is nothing I can do about it so I will not be using Buzz until I can delete watchers

Dave Richardson said...

Hi Gordon,
I understand the problems your article raises. But it is not difficult to have more than one gmail account and more than one profile e.g. one for professional and one for personal use. The accounts are free and don't take long to setup.

John Tantalo said...

“didn't think this threw very well” should be “didn't think this through very well”

JGF said...

John - thanks for the correction!

Dave - yes, that's the Twitter solution. It's simple - each Twitter account is a distinct identity/audience pair. Annoying in terms of account/pw maintenance.

Bigger problem though is that my Google Profile is tied to my Google Account, and my Google Account is tied to a wide range of Google services - including various blogs that have their own profile.

So it's already a tangled ball.

At a minimum Google needs to let us strip our Buzz material from our Profile.

There's a nasty suspicion arising that Google deliberately decided to emulate Facebook -- piss everyone off and then wait for the screaming to die down.

I'm beginning to get that suspicion myself.

I need to update Google's "evil score".