Now that the dust has settled and the initial spike of test activity has dropped off, we’re starting to see what the fascinating combination of having both a wide pre-installed base and some very interesting functionality is achieving for Google Buzz.
It turns out that Buzz has all the key ingredients (functionality, convenience, and users) to kick off public location-based discussion, which is a pretty big deal.
Recognising that first impressions count, Google haven’t yet allowed visibility into this brave new world from the browser, although it is possible to use a workaround and get a taste of what this means – see the example screenshot above.
Here’s a bit of theory. There’s only two dimensions that really matter – time and space. And the most relevant ends of those spectra are right now and right here. Part of the appeal of Twitter was that you could find out about things happening right now. Google Buzz now takes us the final step of the way.
Just consider what this could look like a few years from now.
The world of evening venues suddenly becomes an efficient market. Buzz will tell you which venues are empty, which are too crowded and where the really interesting people are.
Imagine shoppers operating with a hive mind, honing in collectively on the most compelling local special offers, guided by the invisible hand of Google’s algorithms that highlights only the most relevant buzz – and imagine shops monitoring and reacting to that buzz.
Finally, imagine decades of quiet resentment between neighbours too polite for direct confrontation suddenly exploding into all-out Buzz-enabled flame wars over late night music, post stealing, and territorial hedge issues.
Saying that this is one to watch is an understatement.
Lively is pretty much a browser based virtual world platform. Kind of instant messaging with 3-D environments and avatars thrown in. At the moment it looks pretty basic and it only works on PC with limited browser compatibility, but I think Lively could be the start of something very interesting.
First off, it’s browser based and once you’ve created an avatar and room, google gives you the embed code so you can plonk your virtual environment on any webpage or blog. Suddenly the previously walled garden of virtual worlds has gone social. True at the moment individual Lively rooms don’t feel linked together, but my bet is you’ll see that change over the coming months. I’d also wager that if the beta becomes a full release (and I reckon it will), then google will very rapidly embed video and text advertising in the environments.
On a more fanciful level, I can’t help but imagine what might happen if google links Lively up with Google maps/google earth. Suddenly the conenction between real and virtual worlds could become very interesting.