All posts tagged ‘Google Buzz’

File Under: APIs, Social, Web Services

Google Buzz Turns on the Firehose

Google has added a feature to its Buzz API that publishes every activity as it happens in a single feed.

On the social web, this is commonly called a “Firehose” — a syndication feed that publishes all public activities as they happen in one big, fat stream. It’s a lot to sift through, but app developers consider a firehose essential for incorporating real-time search results and real-time “trending” lists from a particular social service into their creations.

Google Buzz, the company’s answer to Twitter and other real-time social sharing services, launched in February, and the API was opened up to the public in May. The firehose was made available late Monday, and it publishes everything Buzz users are sharing (except for Twitter tweets). Google says it’s Buzz developers’ most-requested feature. Previously, you could run searches on Google Buzz activity, but there was no way to subscribe to a feed that publishes what everyone on Buzz is talking about or sharing at any given moment with very low latency.

Some Google partners were involved in the launch, and they’ve prepped some apps to show off what the firehose can do. Have a look at Buzz Mood, an app (obviously inspired by our old Twitter favorite Twistori) that tracks emotional keywords like “love,” “hate,” “believe,” and “hope,” showing you the most recent posts containing those words in a constantly refreshing stream.

Also check out Gnip, the social aggregation service that collects user activities from Twitter, MySpace, Buzz, Facebook, Digg and over 100 social sites. Gnip republishes all these feeds in multiple formats and combinations, and it makes everything — now including the Buzz firehose — available to its customers via its own API.

All of the public activities in Google Buzz are published through the firehose using PubSubHubbub, a protocol that’s being widely adopted on the social web. PubSubHubbub, which was created inside Google and is now being developed into an open standard, pushes out updates to apps as they happen. It replaces the old model — one that’s been the standard for many years — where an application repeatedly asks the publishing server if there’s anything new.

PubSubHubbub is more efficient and provides the app with notifications the instant they happen. It’s not the only data format for real-time publishing: also have a look at RSSCloud.

Google is turning on some other API features as well, including a comments feed for comments left by each user, and a similar feed for “likes” made by each user.

Google is using Activity Streams, another emerging standard on the social web, to wrap all of the activity data. The AML-based Activity Streams format allows for notifications of things like comments, likes, and favorites. So, subscribe to the Google Buzz feed for so-and-so, and you’ll not only be notified that so-and-so posted a video, but also that his friend liked that video, or that an hour later, somebody else left a comment about it.

Everything is outlined in the Google Buzz API docs. You can also ask a question or search for answers in the Buzz developer forum.

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File Under: Social, Web Apps

Google Buzz Gets a ‘Retweet’ Feature

One of the key ingredients of the Twitter ecosystem is the ability to pass along a link of interest from somebody you follow by retweeting it to your own followers. You get to discover new content and new people of interest at the same time. Now, you can do the same thing in Google Buzz.

The Buzz team announced the new “Reshare” feature Thursday morning. Over the course of the next day or so, it should be showing up as a fourth option under every buzz item in your stream (Google’s product enhancements usually take about a day to roll out) next to Like, Comment and E-mail.

Unlike Twitter’s official “retweet” action, which passes a tweet along to your followers in one click, resharing something in Buzz is a two-step experience. You click the reshare button and you’re given a new window where you can type in your own comments about why you found this particular video of a kitten jumping out of a Pringles can more worthy of your friend’s time than any other video of a kitten jumping out of a Pringles can. This ability to add comments is a bit like Twitter’s old school retweets, which let you add some commentary to the original tweet. But in Buzz, there’s a lot more room to add your own thoughts, as you’re not limited to keeping the whole payload under 140 characters.

Resharing also credits the original poster, keeping their Buzz post, their comments and (most importantly) the links to their profile information intact. If multiple people in your network are resharing and commenting on the same item, you will see all of those posts collapsed under the original.

Google says the reshare action is one of the most requested features in Buzz. You can vote for your own most-wanted feature at the Buzz product ideas web app.

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File Under: Social, Web Apps, Web Services

Making Contact With Mr. Gmail

Google's Todd Jackson, product manager for Gmail and Google Buzz

Google’s Todd Jackson carries the weight of the web on his shoulders. As the product manager for Gmail, it’s his responsibility to make sure your inbox experience is fast, secure and always available. Jackson is also the product manager for Buzz, Google’s real-time social sharing system that launched in February and was promptly criticized over privacy issues and its “noise” problem. Talk about a tough gig.

We got the chance to ask Jackson about the inner workings of the Gmail team, what’s ahead for Buzz as far as user controls, and what it feels like to bear the collective rage of Gmail’s 140-million-plus users when the system takes a dive.

Webmonkey: Do you think we’re going to see the death of the desktop e-mail client anytime soon?

Todd Jackson: We don’t like to think of it that way (laughs). No comment! Seriously, though, we think deploying an app in the browser is something that easily makes sense to users now. They can log in on any computer, all their stuff is in the cloud. It’s just easier. And for us, we can push frequent updates and improve the product iteratively.

At Google, we run our own business on Gmail — we call this “eating our own dog food.”

Webmonkey: So do you suffer the same service outages as the general public?

Jackson: We do. When Gmail goes down, it goes down for us. That’s one of our first alerts.

Webmonkey: What happens in your office at Google when Gmail goes down?

Continue Reading “Making Contact With Mr. Gmail” »

File Under: Social, Web Apps

Hands On With Google Buzz – It’s a Stream in Your Inbox

Tuesday saw the debut of Google Buzz, a new service for sharing status updates, links and media with your friends. It’s currently being rolled out to the public slowly — you can sign up at — but we’ve had access to Buzz since shortly after it launched, and I’ve had a chance to play around with it.

Buzz integrates directly with your Gmail inbox, so updates and comments appear along side your e-mails. It bears a strong resemblance to other sharing platforms like FriendFeed or Twitter and Facebook’s News Feed — imagine all of those magically inserted into your Gmail inbox and you get the picture.

It has all the makings of a powerful, real-time social platform that’s ready to compete with, or compliment, those established players.

But for now, Buzz is a bit of a mystery. Only a handful of people are actually using it, so the sharing features don’t really feel that social. It’s as if you’re broadcasting into an empty void. In that regard, my first day with Buzz reminds me of my first few days with Google Wave, or my first few days with FriendFeed. That feeling of being in a big empty room will change once Buzz opens up and more of my friends join, just as it did for those other services.

There’s another more serious limitation: What happens in Buzz stays in Buzz. You can’t use it to post to your favorite social networks. You can add feeds from Twitter, Flickr, Google Reader and any other social site (except for Facebook, notably), and all that stuff gets aggregated into a single feed on Buzz where your friends can leave comments. But when you post a status update or share any sort of link or media on Buzz, you don’t have the option to CC Twitter or FriendFeed.

Google noted during Tuesday’s launch event that it does plan on adding the ability to post out to Twitter and other services soon. And, since all public posts in Buzz are available as an XML feed, you could hack together a way to post to Twitter if you know what you’re doing. But for now, for most every user, Google Buzz remains a one-way street.

Once those two things change — the volume problem and the cross-posting problem — Buzz will be a serious player on the social web. Right now, it’s worth playing with and getting used to, because once it gains momentum, it’s going to become part of our daily lives. It’s that easy to use, and that powerful.

Here’s how it works

Once you’re given access, you’ll see Buzz appear in your Gmail sidebar just below your Inbox. Click it and you’ll see something familiar: a white box inviting you to post a status update.

When you first arrive in Buzz, it’s automatically set up to follow the few dozen people in your Google Contacts list that you correspond with the most. It’s a rather genius bit of engineering — Buzz taps into your Gmail network so you don’t need to go through that process of importing contacts or “finding friends,” one of the most painful experiences on the social web.

Each post to Buzz can be public (for the whole web to see) or private (you select which friends see it). The default is public, but you can also address posts directly to a friend using a variation on Twitter’s @ reply syntax, like this:

Send one of those updates and it shows up in your stream and in his stream, and anyone following either one of you will see it. But the note will also show up in his Gmail inbox, so you can make sure he sees it.

You can type text of course, but if you put in a link, Buzz will go gather photos or videos that live behind that link and give you the option of adding them to your update. Photos show up in a nice little gallery of thumbnails. Videos get embedded and can be played inline.

Above that white box, you can see the number of services Buzz is aggregating for you. Click on that number and you can add or subtract services to control what shows up in your feed.

Also above that white box is the number of people you’re following. Click on that number and you can add or subtract followers. This will control whose updates show up in your feed.

All of your activities, comments and all those of your friends will show up here. Everything appears in real-time and the updates are very fast. If you or one of your friends posts something boring that doesn’t have any comments or media associated with it, Buzz will eventually collapse it. So long, clutter.

People can like, comment and e-mail anything that shows up in their feed, whether it was posted by you or them or whoever.

If you want to see your public feed of everything you’re sharing, check out your Google Profile (you know you have one, right?).

There’s a new Buzz tab that displays all your public posts. Google Profiles and Buzz are intricately tied together.

Posts can be geotagged, and the location-aware features really comes to life when you post from a mobile with GPS inside. There’s a mobile webapp optimized for Android and iPhone browsers — surf to

Buzz will figure out where you are using the mobile browser’s geolocation abilities through HTML5. The interface for picking your location is elegant.

Buzz will then show you recent posts around your current location. It can also plot nearby Buzz posts on a layer in Google Maps.

Clearly, Buzz mimics the functionality of Facebook’s News Feed — minus all the Farmville, Mafia Wars and Superpoke notifications. It draws upon a common vernacular for sharing and commenting that Facebook helped establish.

So, is it a replacement for Facebook, or a compliment to Facebook? In a way, Google’s rapidly-expanding social stack — Buzz, Gmail, Contacts, Chat, Profiles, Picasa and YouTube — could be seen as a clone of Facebook that operates on the open web. If anything, it’s a version of Facebook for people who never got into Facebook, or chose not to participate because of its closed nature.

No matter how it ends up impacting Facebook, Buzz will go down in history as a transformative step in Google’s timeline. It brings a whole new utility to what is already our most critical social tool — the e-mail inbox.

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File Under: Social, Web Apps

Google Launches Buzz, Its New Social Media Sharing Platform

Google debuted Buzz Tuesday morning, its latest product for sharing links, media and status updates with your friends.

Buzz is fully integrated with Gmail’s inbox. You can go to and turn it on right now if you’re a Gmail user.

Buzz is more than a little bit like Twitter — and a whole lot like Facebook and FriendFeed. Anything you post is automatically sent out to the people on your Google Contacts list you interact with the most. All updates are real-time, and anything you share is open for comments. You can also post privately to a select group of friends.

Posts can be geotagged, and the location-aware features really come to life when you post from a mobile with GPS inside. Buzz will figure out where you are and show you recent posts around your current location.

You can post status updates directly to Buzz or pull in posts from Twitter or FriendFeed, YouTube videos, photos from Flickr or Picasa, links (complete with photos) from Google Reader or any source listed in your Google Profile. There’s no Facebook integration.

You can’t post from Buzz out to Twitter or other services — it’s a one-way street for now, but Google says it hopes add that ability later. All public updates are available as XML. Also, OAuth, Webfinger, PubSubHubbub and Activity Streams are all supported out of the box, but FacebookConnect is not. More details about the APIs and the supported data formats are at the Buzz Google Code site.

Read Ryan Singel’s full coverage of the Buzz launch on Wired’s Epicenter blog.

And here’s a video: