I’ve had full access to Google Buzz for just over 24 hours, and I’ve worked to figure out the various nooks and crannies of the service. As a technologist, I’m intrigued by buttons and links. As a photographer, I want to know how Google Buzz will impact my ability to share my work, connect with other photographers, and reach clients.
What is Google Buzz?
Google Buzz is a sharing tool that is viewed either from the GMail web interface or via the mobile interface to Google on an iPhone or Android device (there’s an API, so expect to start seeing client applications as well… it wouldn’t surprise me to see apps like Tweetdeck add support shortly). Google Buzz allows one to view items shared by their contacts. The simplest form of sharing is posting a status update (like Twitter), but Buzz users can link up their blog posts, photos from Flickr or Picasa, YouTube videos, and other content sources to be shared via their Buzz stream. If you’ve ever used FriendFeed, you’ll find that Buzz is very similar.
Here’s the Google introduction video for Buzz:
Photography on Google Buzz
The most obvious use for Google Buzz for photographers is as a means for sharing photography. Google has a good start in this area but there are definitely lots of opportunities for improvement.
The Good: If you share photos via Flickr or Picasa, there’s native support to import those photos and they’ll show as browsable images for your Buzz network. If you embed photos into your blog posts and connect your blog to Buzz, those photos show up just fine at the original size.
The Bad: If you share photos via any other photo sharing sites, support is questionable. Photos uploaded directly to the service show up as thumbnails.
I asked for some thoughts from photographers (on Buzz of course). Ben Hengst noted that there is a lot of potential for the comment feature to be used for critiques, although he noted that tagging would be helpful. Thomas Hawk replied that it would be nice to be able to import one’s contact network from Flickr; some digging in the Flickr API revealed that Flickr makes that impossible. David Sanger offered a few thoughts, including the fact that deleting some imported item (such as a blog post) also wipes out any sort of commentary or discussion that was attached to that item.
If you’d like to see the thread on Buzz (or add your own comments to it), visit the Buzz item.
Your Network on Buzz
How do you connect with folks on Google Buzz? By default, it will offer to connect you with your GMail email contacts. If you’re a GMail user, this is a natural way to connect with a lot of contacts. Being integrated with other Google services, Buzz will also tap into those whose shared Google Reader items you’re following.
If you’re not a GMail user, the scenario gets more complicated… Buzz is built into GMail, so you’ll need an account. Then, from what I can tell, it’ll be a manual process to import your contacts and add them to Buzz. This can be a major buzzkill (pun intended) for those of you that haven’t yet moved your digital life into Google’s world.
The usefulness of Buzz to photographers will depend on market adoption. At this point my guess is that Buzz still dwarfs Twitter’s active user base, and Twitter is still tiny when compared to Facebook. I’m seeing Buzz primarily as a tool I may use to stay connected with existing clients or colleagues, but I’m not expecting it to be a large driver of new business. My work (via Flickr and my blog) will end up in front of new eyes, but it’ll be more of a passive marketing stream than an active one.
Are you jumping headfirst into the Buzz? Are you waiting to see if it catches on with the general public? If you’d like, follow my Buzz stream from my Google profile.