Buzz Kill

I just killed Buzz and I'm feeling a little guilty.

I don't mean this guy, who is a blogger. I mean Google Buzz, the new social networking feature built in to my Gmail. I turned it off. I thought it might be worth a few words of explanation, since this blog does occasionally venture into the Murky Realms of Geek.

Buzz works fine, technically. It looks nice, and the people are as good as me, as bad as I am.

The problem with Google Buzz is simply that it doesn't solve anything. It does not meet an existing need. It gives me something else to do, another toy to play with, without replacing any of the toys I'm playing with already. And to that extent, it's not very useful. Indeed, Buzz is a lot like a commercial for Viagra; if it solves anything, it's a problem that nobody seems to actually have. The similarities abound: As far as I knew, I didn't need the application. And what I got was actually a lingering distraction.

I believe that what we who use computers to be productive and to participate in society need are a few good tools. (Quod erat demonstrandum. Bad ones aren't as good.) Not a plethora of toys to satiate our constantly fluttering attention, but good tools. Let's go with that. Tools.

The problem with two many tools, sometimes, is information overload. Too much info coming from too many directions, and our online world starts to look a lot like this.

Does that mean we shouldn't try new things like Google Buzz? No. It's good to try stuff. It's fun to learn, and it's good for our brains, up to a point. I hoped that there would be a way to aggregate Facebook into Buzz, and have just one such thing, but that doesn't work. And right now, I'm typing this post in Gmail and hoping to publish it through Posterous, which is something I just tried for the first time today. If it works out, it will replace a feature of my blog writing process, and help me be more efficient.

Want to see something slick? Check out

So how many social networking apps do I need? None! No, One! No, Two!  Yes, two. One for friends, one for professional contacts. Don't mix them together, faithful reader. Any expert will tell you that. Don't mix business with pleasure. Don't dip your pen in the company … no, that's the wrong analogy.

For personal networking, Facebook is the show that's playing in the big room now. So if you invite me to join Planky or Bink or Splooge, or whatever you're playing with this week, sorry, pass. Yeah, I made those up. But it you know some of the sharing sites, they look real.

Linkedin is the site of preference for professionals networking for business. That's pretty settled too.

More About Tools, Generally 

If you read this blog regularly, you know I've been frustrated about tools more than a little lately. I was thinking about getting a new Office productivity suite, party to keep up with the times and the fun, and partly to keep up my skill set. I tried out Office 2010 and it's pretty cool, but I'm not going that way because it's going to be expensive as hell on hot toast. I tried out OpenOffice, but it doesn't have a replacement for Publisher. But it's free. But I have Word 2003, but I'm bored with it, but it does what I need. Aaargh!

If you're a person who is handy around the house, you might have a set of tools, many of which are similar and might serve the same purpose. Two hammers. A set of wrenches, etc. They do not conflict or cause problems for each other. If you tighten a screw with your 4 inch screwdriver, it's doesn't cause a problem that you also own a six inch screwdriver.

With computers, it's different sometimes. Software can cause conflicts, discontent. Let's say I have a photo that you really want and need tonight. You ask me to fix it up and send it to you. If I open it with Photoshop, polish it, and send it to you in Photoshop's psd format, then go to bed, let us hope you also have Photoshop. A nice jpeg might have been better.

I have OpenOffice and Microsoft Office on my computer, and there are ways I could make real trouble for myself by saving documents in two different word processing formats.

Try installing 2 different antivirus programs and see what happens. Don't try it. I'm being facetious.

It's not always like Dad's tool shed, where he has hundreds of tools in the drawers and hanging on the walls. For every job there is a best tool. Sometimes you have to choose.

Choose wisely.