Separating Buzz and Gmail

Image representing Danny Sullivan as depicted ...
Image by Danny Sullivan on Flickr via CrunchBase

As someone who has migrated more and more strongly to using Gmail as my principal e-mail service, I am now frustrated by the forced insertion of Google Buzz. In fact prior to this, the Google Gmail spam elimination process seemed very effective in leaving only Gmail messages that I wished to receive. The labeling system allowed me to store most messages that came in in a very efficient retrieval system. Now the incessant buzz is adding in a whole cloud of irrelevance. It is no accident that Buzz rhymes with fuzz. Your simple, clean Gmail Inbox is becoming increasingly fuzzy.

I am not the first to complain. Immediately after its introduction, many were hoping that Google would offer Buzz independently from Gmail. According to Danny Sullivan,

Google says it may allow people to participate in Google Buzz without having it integrated within Gmail, in addition to offering a combined Gmail service. That may be a welcome move for users of both products, especially in light of the substantial privacy concerns voiced this week about Google Buzz.

“It’s clear that interest in Buzz may extend beyond the current Gmail base, and we’re open to serving that community,” said Bradley Horowitz, Google’s VP of Product Marketing, when Danny SullivanI spoke to him about some Buzz issues. Horowitz stressed that Google would still offer a version of Buzz within Gmail, in addition to any independent version. “We think that Buzz within Gmail is a great experience, and we’ll keep offering that as well,” Horowitz said.

Unfortunately that independent version has never appeared even now six weeks later. Still there is no way of easily separating out Buzz items from the regular Gmail stream. Any examination of items such as Sent Mail will list together sent messages and Buzz comments or status messages. Since Buzz by its nature is more voluminous, this makes it really difficult to home in on the regular e-mail items.

The only way to avoid this confusion between buzz items and regular e-mail is to switch off the display of Buzz entirely within Gmail. It is a pity that it cannot be segregated but Google offers no choices here.

It is annoying to have many Buzz updates appearing as emails to the Gmail account. If you want to turn off or remove the Google Buzz from Gmail then there is no way to do it easily. The only way to maintain one’s sanity is to avoid creating any buzz items whatsoever. Others may see buzz items that your applications such as Twitter or Facebook create. However if you decide to create buzz items within Google Buzz directly, then at that point you will be polluting your Gmail stream. That price is too high for me and perhaps for many others.

To an extent, the problem is the new Google regime whose tagline is Mobile First. If you check out how Google Buzz will work on your mobile phone, then it makes a lot of sense.

Introducing Google Buzz for mobile: See buzz around you and tag posts with your location.

We are announcing Google Buzz, a new product that integrates with your Gmail inbox and makes it easy to start rich conversations about the things you find interesting. Google Buzz lets you share web links, photos, videos, and more with those who are important to you. Rather than simply creating a mobile version of Buzz, we decided to take advantage of the unique features of a mobile device – in particular, location. We go through many experiences when we’re on the go, and while there are lots of ways to share these experiences with your friends or even the world, there isn’t always an easy way to let your audience know where you are when you post. Your location brings valuable context to the information you share.

You’re on the go. You want to know what is going on around you and Buzz can provide that window on the world. In a way it is like Twitter on steroids. If I was using Buzz only on my smart phone, then I would not be complaining.

My rant concerns only how Google Buzz overruns your Gmail when you are working on your PC. Google would like me to pay more attention to Buzz so it insists on linking it inextricably with my Gmail. The only choice I am left with is to bury it. That may well be the solution for many other Gmail users.

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