I get it. Google want to unseat the mighty gods of Twitter, FaceBook, and MySpace. Mini-blogging and highly networked social media is cool and Google understandably want in on the action. Millions of people updating each other on what they ate for lunch is too much to resist. I have no problem with that. What I do take offense to is Google’s apparent disregard for their own first commandment: “Don’t be evil.”
Harvey Dent said: “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
It seems that Buzz is already angering some people and I completely understand why. Automatically connecting me with frequent contacts sounds harmless on the surface, however in reality the frequency of contact has been mistaken with the desire to contact. I have hundreds of people in my contacts list because GMail adds contacts automatically. That doesn’t make them my friends and it certainly doesn’t mean I want them to know who I talk to regularly.
I’m sure that Google will take steps over the coming days to tighten up the way that Buzz works as I’m not the only one upset about the way Buzz was launched. However, it served to remind me just how much information we share with our online overlords and the kind of leaps they could make by automatically networking that information together. We’ve placed a lot of trust in social networks to only share the information we choose. That trust could very easily be violated and given the comprehensive nature of the terms of service it would be 100% legal.
Signal to Noise Ratio
I’ve been considering for some time now whether or not to quit TwitBook and return to just blogging and uploading photos now and then. There is a feeling that if I don’t monitor the constant stream of brain-drool that oozes onto the feeds of those around me that I’m somehow a bad friend or person. The signal to noise ratio of my own feed has degraded into little more than white noise at times yet I still maintain a profile on a site that knows more about my friends and relationships than I do. That feels like a higher price to pay than the return is worth.
Referencing the Good Stuff
Twitter is certainly a valuable tool for marketing firms and businesses as well as for those who are turning their feeds into professional modern media coverage. For some it’s the online equivalent of “people watching” at the mall. I personally see Twitter as a resource for ad hoc searches and reference. It’s like a living transcript of snippets from conversations around the world. The funny part is that none of those activities actually require you to tweet anything. You can just sit on the sidelines and watch the information go by. I still tweet throughout the day, muttering about taking a walk or what I ate for lunch. If you read the stream at a later date I’d sound like a kitten on crack with an attention deficit disorder. I tweet as though I’m turning to an imaginary co-worker and just spewing the first random thought in my head.
Final Thoughts…or did I?
The nature of this post itself is a little bit “I like cake!” so I’ll end with an impromptu final thought in a time honored style and simply say this. Share your thoughts and experiences with your online networks and enjoy the massively connected world of the modern internet, but always remember that you may be saying more than you mean to not only to our internet overlords but to the increasing number of marketing firms who are using FaceBook, Twitter, and other services to build demographic databases about all of us. The world may seem like a massive place with five billion of us scurrying around on a daily basis. The reality is that we live for a long time and modern computers can store and index incredible amounts of information about who we know, how we interact with them, and even how we think. Share only what you mean to and treat any online publication as though it was being sent to the whole world. Your FaceBook updates may be semi-private for now but who knows what the future may bring. You could always just claim to mom that you developed a rare strain of online tourette syndrome but it might be easier to just double check your privacy settings before posting or even consider if FaceBook is the right venue for the message you’re about to send. As always be safe and take care of each other. Goodnight!