February 09, 2010

Google's Open Tools and APIs Make Buzz Hum

The debut of Google's new social venture, Buzz, came with all the subtlety of a freight train. Like a freight train, you could hear the rumbling of Buzz as its launch approached, fueled by the vast array of open social tools that the company has been championing over the last few years, and a number of key hires that show Mountain View's commitment to making users' data portable and non-siloed, in visible contrast to alternative networks, most notably Facebook, who has made it notoriously difficult to export data in its six year history.

Though clearly a 1.0 version product today, Buzz is primed for significant improvement in the next several months, which will be driven by data measured within Google, gathering users' feedback - as they no doubt will be demanding the ability to share updates to downstream services, the introduction of an enterprise version, limited by domain, and other enhancements. But from the beginning, Buzz is built to be open.

"We are committed to open standards, and we want to build a non-siloed product at every turn," said Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product management at Google on Monday. "You will see us take all these open standards, like Pubsubhubbub, Webfinger, Salmon, and use this as a vehicle to demonstrate to the world what it means to use them."

Buzz also fits in nicely with the Social Graph API being worked on by data portability pusher Brad Fitzpatrick, which also powers your Google Social Circle. While the social circle learns how many direct contacts you have in Google chat, and finds other connections through registered links, Buzz tracks your most frequent connections by e-mail and chat within Gmail, taking a step further and surfacing active "friend of a friend" content, should it be deemed relevant.

"Social media today is a fiefdom of friends," said Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering at Google on Monday. "We believe your updates will go where you want them to. We are going to work hard to enable that."

Of note, despite the highly visible business development relationship forged by Google with Twitter to power the company's real-time search, Buzz simply taps Twitter's standard API to gain access to users' updates, and it is expected this access will be sufficient.

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