Google Buzz and the Onslaught of Status Duplicates

Today, Google Buzz was added to my Gmail account. The web was all a-frenzy with folks wondering when they would get it. After the Google Wave debacle, I wasn’t in any rush to check it out. But tonight I checked my email, and I got Google Buzz. So I checked it out.

Five minutes later, I sounded like a grumpy old man with this:

Great. People are connecting their Twitter to Google Buzz. Now I can ready your fucking status message SIX times instead of five.

Yeah, every time I try to type “read you”, it always comes out “ready your”. Ignore that. But here’s the point. We’re all on a bunch of social networks. We have them connected to each other. It’s getting ridiculous. I was checking out a friend’s Facebook page last night. There were actually two status updates of the same Flickr photo that was pumped through Gowalla.

Gowalla. Let’s start there. I don’t give a fuck that you’re at Stop & Shop. All the times that I post about my kids taking a crap? That’s me paying you back for Flickring your tweet of a Gowalla Facebook status that you’re getting milk.

Maybe I’m just jealous that I don’t go anywhere.

But anyway, as a hyperconnected kind of guy, I try my best to keep up with my friends. The duplicate postings make this so much harder and much more irritating. I bitched about this before when Ping.fm was all the rage (what the hell happened to them?). You become tempted to not care what anyone is doing, but then you’re losing out completely.

The truth.

I have my Twitter and Facebook accounts linked. I don’t feel good about it. But I actually don’t have a ton of friend overlap there. Facebook is a mixture of family, high school friends (I apparently had a couple more than I realized), guys from my baseball sim league… and a few folks I keep in touch with on a daily basis via Twitter. So, those folks—the ones I’m probably connected to the most—see my stuff twice. Sometimes that’s okay… you don’t usually get to read EVERYTHING people post to Twitter, so it can be a good safety net.

What Facebook does have is excellent filtering tools. You can easily make lists of people you don’t see updates from on other networks. I do this. I have all of my Facebook friends in at least one list. The ones that tend to post to Twitter I just don’t check as often (even then it is really to make sure I didn’t miss anything).

There has to be a better way.

I thought FriendFeed was going to solve this. I really did. They allowed you to feed all of your public data into one stream. Theoretically (and I’m not sure if they ever did this), they should be able to cut the duplicates out and make life easier. They even had a pretty innovating feature called “imaginary friends” where you could make a fake FriendFeed user stream for your friends that didn’t have accounts. So, if my friend was on Flickr but not anything else, I could add his photos to my stream, for example.

It just didn’t work, though. And I’m not sure why. The imaginary friend feature was a lot of work and wasn’t intuitive. You also couldn’t consume non-open data (like Facebook status messages). That was a pretty big drawback. You still had to check Facebook.

What we need.

Moments after that first tweet/rant, I followed up with:

Someone make a tool that aggregates Buzz, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, etc. and removes the dupes. Make it slick. You’ll be rich.

We’re smart people. Someone should be able to build something that automatically fetches (and updates) your connections to your social networks—Twitter, Facebook. Buzz, Flickr, etc.—and trims the dupes. Bonus points for allowing you to merge the contacts from these different networks so you can tell it they are the same person (which could also help distinguish between real dupes or a friend reposting something by another friend).

Maybe this tool could be Google Buzz. I’d be pretty happy if it was. I’m already a Gmail user. One reason I think Buzz stands a fighting chance is that I don’t have to leave my email app to check my other communications. That’s actually quite compelling.

I wish I had the time to figure this problem out and make an app. But the job keeps me busy and the three kids keep me busier.

That and all my spare time is spent reading that you’re picking up the fucking milk.

3 Comments

  1. On February 10th, 2010 at 9:38 pm Jake Camara said:

    Jake Camara likes this post — in His Living Room: http://gowal.la/jakeslivingroom

  2. On February 11th, 2010 at 8:49 am James said:

    Friendfeed doesn’t work because people don’t want feeds; they want interaction. Feeds are reliable and predictable in one direction and sort of clunky in the other direction. For example, you can’t use Friendfeed to really engage with your Facebook friends. So you have to visit FB anyhow.

    The problem is social media splintering. It’s always been with us. There have always been multiple websites and multiple discussion boards. Only now we’re interacting so much more with much larger overlapping populations of friends.

    WORLDS COLLIDING!!!! (as George Costanza would say.)

  3. On February 16th, 2010 at 8:15 am Adam Darowski said:

    James, that’s an excellent point about FriendFeed. If they actually worked with APIs and not just public feeds, you could reply to updates from their interface. Alas, the “public feed” part of it is what makes it able to do what it does. Seems nobody wants to tackle the swiss-army-knife-API approach.