Uninformed Google Buzz Thoughts
I haven’t tried Google Buzz. Since I moved to using Emacs for email and have tried to focus on using my own domain name, using Gmail proper isn’t really happening. But! From what I’ve read I think the ideas (that I’ve gathered) are really interesting.
Email is a really great platform. Not technically, but from a social perspective. Email is more ubiquitous than the web. There are no client issues when it comes to core functionality and everyone knows how to use it. What’s more, many folks are expert users that do complex tasks like create folders and filters. This is complicated compared to opening up your email and only reading and deleting.
With a world of people using email every day, it is a no brainer to consider how to create social software with it. Posterous is a great example of an application that exploits the power of email to help people publish. Google Buzz, being based on email is doing the exact same thing.
I have a facebook account that I don’t really use. I try to user twitter as a publishing platform, but ideas are hard to come by at times. Email I use everyday. It is something that is now a requirement for getting things done in the world. A tool that helps graph a social network based on email is idea because it is yet another helpful tool based on email to improve its place as the ultimate web communication tool.
Now, since I really don’t know the specifics of what Google Buzz is doing, my “analysis” is going to stop right there. But, I do have a wish list for the future of email that is based off of tools like Gmail.
1. Create and API - Oh how I wish Gmail had a really good API that wasn’t IMAP. Personally, I’m totally fine with IMAP, but it is not going to scale email to where it needs to be. Gmails labels are powerful and help to provide more options for organizing email. The search in Gmail is also really great in terms of the UI. It is trivial to see all your unread items in any set of folders that contain someones name in the subject. I’ll also bring up the spam filtering that I never notice, which is just proof that I appreciate it.
2. Build an Open Source Email Server - Yeah I know there are tons already, but I’m talking about one that speaks HTTP and uses a RESTful API like the one mentioned above. Something anyone could implement that doesn’t have the cruft of IMAP even though it might be supported.
3. Create More Organizational Paradigms - I think email is really important because of the audience. Everyone uses email, period. Yet, overloading it has always been a problem thanks to spammers. That is OK, as I think spam is essentially licked. With spam out of the way, we can start to consider other ways of organizing our mail. If you take a look at Gmail Labs, many of them provide extra tools for helping to organize your life in email. There are todo lists, extra inboxes, emblems and more that are all focused on improving your mail experience. This needs to continue if we want to continue to overload email with the social web.
So that is. I hope Google is listening (the company, not the search bot) and considers the future. What is funny is that on a personal level, I’m not really a fan of email. It is not something I enjoy or find that interesting. Yet, when you think of ways to get people to use an API, email always wins. I used email for mimicking a text message platform. Why? All the carriers support sending text messages by email. Mailman the mailing list software has allowed managing lists via email forever. Email marketing (not spamming) as a market is still rather vibrant with new companies showing up all the time improving the experience for readers. Like the web browser, email is not going anywhere and it is extremely pervasive. Email as the interface to the social web seems like the logical next step.