Posted March 15, 2010 12:44 am by with 2 comments

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Google really created quite a buzz around Buzz when it was rolled out in February. The first wave of buzz (pun intended although the whole Wave thing is another story altogether) for Buzz was reasonable and was more about “What do I do with it?” than anything else. That was soon followed by the privacy outcry that became deafening and forced Google to admit that it had committed a major privacy faux pas.

Well, it appears that Buzz is still creating a stir this time at SXSW when a panel of Gmail and Buzz Googlers had to face the music, so to speak. TechCrunch reports

Google Product Manager Todd Jackson said that Google had learned a lot from the incident, acknowledging that Google was in error when it made the assumption that users wanted to move their email and chat contacts over to their Buzz social graph, and auto-followed them. To make sure that kind of blunder doesn’t happen again, he revealed that Google may start pre-releasing new Buzz features to small subsets of users.

Certainly a pretty big error for sure but things seems to be calming down a bit around that furor (or is that just because less people care about Buzz and decided to not talk about it anymore…I don’t know). Google is trying to do the right thing now by talking like they may actually test some stuff before they cram it down our throat roll it out. Awful sporting of them, wouldn’t you say?

It appears as if the internal testing that took place in Google itself produced results that were not representative of what the real world would do. The folks at the Googleplex were thus perplexed when the real world users didn’t react the same way as Googlers did on their jobs. Really?!?!?! I wouldn’t have seen that one coming either would you?

So why exactly did Google Buzz launch with some key social features missing? Jackson said that while Google employees were testing out the product internally, they never had much desire to mute any of their coworkers, and that their email contact list closely matched the people they wanted to follow on Buzz. Obviously, that wasn’t true for most people once the product was released outside of the Googleplex. Which is why Google is considering pre-releasing new Buzz features to a few thousand opt-in users long before they’re rolled out to the public.

This whole admission makes me wonder just how disconnected Google actually is from real world experience of their products in general. If this is any indication then it’s a red flag of sorts because anyone who had their Google thinking cap on should realize that they are not living in the real world at the home office. They created it to be that way so Googlers would have a unique experience, right? How then could you assume that what happens on that campus has anything to do with the real world?

It seems like every company no matter how big and powerful and cool eventually jumps the shark. I’m not saying Google is there yet but it sounds like they may be ready to make a run at the shark tank that would make the Fonz proud!

  • Ed

    I often think about the chance to really sit and talk with folks like
    Larry and Sergey (and other disconnected superstar geeks).

    There are so many terrific minds in technology, including those
    within leading ‘socially accessible’ platforms,
    who reinforce the [now] politically incorrect/inconvenient truth which
    everyone agreed on 30 years ago – most geeks are socially inept.
    But they’re too detached or vain to grasp that truth about themselves.
    Much good is lost as a result.

  • Surely just testing something inside of Google employees shouldn’t count as actual testing? A basic methodology would be to trial it there first… see if it works, and then pick a small random group for some beta testing! I’m not surprised there were issues with Buzz if that was the extent of their ‘testing’.