Google launching Buzz has crystalized a thought that’s been running through my head for a while. Ever since the WWW came on the scene there have been a series of landgrabs for bits of the Internet. Bits that give revenue which might be page impressions giving advertising revenue or e-commerce giving cold, hard, cash revenue. Sometimes its been the potential for revenue or the myth of potential revenue. That’s where we had the first big crash when the bubble burst.
At the moment a pile of the players are going after the social networking pie. Google Buzz, Twitter, Facebook and all the other general purpose networks are all busy trying to tie us into their set up. The problem from a users point of view is that we end up with our network fragmented depending on where our friends are. These networks are quite crude at the moment. Basically they tend to be quite private or quite public but with messages shared with everyone or just one person.
Then there are all the niche network sites built on old style forums where we meet up with people who share an interest. There are all sorts of sites which may have something you’re interested in from personal blogs by friends, news sites and everything else in between.
Keeping up with all of those takes time. RSS and Atom feeds made it easier to keep up with sites by letting us know when there was something to read rather than having to trawl over the sites every few days. TweetDeck lets you pull your social networks together in one place.
So after all the preamble here is my real thought – is the real winner down the road not going to be whichever social network grabs the most members or gets the model right but will it be the tool that we all use to keep up with Social Networks, RSS, forums and Email in one place. I don’t know if it will be a web app, something you install or a mix of both but I wish that was the Buzz Google had launched today instead of the one we got. That would seem to me to have been closer to Google’s mission to organise the world’s information.