When I joined the company a month ago, I was baited with the promise that Google was ready to get serious about the social web.
Yesterday’s launch of Google Buzz and the fledgling Google Buzz API is like a downpayment on what I see as Google’s broader social web ambitions, that have been bubbling beneath the surface for some time. Understand that Buzz is not entirely an end unto itself, but a way for Google to get some skin in the game to promote the use and adoption of different open technologies for the social web.
In fact, I’d argue that Buzz is as much about Google creating a new channel for conversation in a familiar place as it is about how we’re going about building its public developer surfaces. Although today’s Buzz API only offers a real-time read-only activity stream, the goal is to move quickly towards implementing a host of other technologies — most of which should be familiar to readers of this blog.
As Kevin Marks observes, in order to address the mess of the social web that Mike Arrington described, we need
widespread use [of common standards] so that we can generalize across sites — and thus enable people to interact and engage across the web , rather than being restricted to any particular silo of activity — which may or may not reflect their true social configuration.
In other words, standards — and in particular social web standards — are the lingua franca that make it possible for uninitiated web services to interact in a consistent manner. When web services use standards to commoditize essential and basic features, it forces them to compete not with user lock-in, but by providing better service, better user experience, or with new functionality and utility. I am an advocate of the open web because I believe the open web leads to increased competition, which in turn affords people better options, and more leverage in the world.
Buzz is both a terrific product, and a great example of how the social web is evolving and becoming truly ubiquitous. Buzz is simply one more stitch in the fabric of the social web.