De-Buzzed

Update: Oh, so they’ve done and tried to smooth things over. How cute. Too little, too late, I say… In the meantime, here’s a choice quote from waffle: Some people play tennis. The Gmail team erodes the human comfort zone.

So, I’ve a week to go on the first stretch of my parental leave, and it’s all been a blur so far – too little sleep, too little breaks, the occasional itch to type a few paragraphs into Evernote before dozing off, the insane logistics of keeping two kids reasonably happy, well-fed and entertained and, in the meantime, the amount of people who seemingly can’t do without me at the office (sorry guys, but no, I won’t re-add you to Facebook or Twitter, I wll not take everyone’s calls and I most certainly won’t act on e-mail while I’m not actually working).

Plus, of course, sneaking a peek at the sheer madness across the Internet.

Speaking of that, João Craveiro has a very good rant on Google Buzz that you ought to read. And I have my 0.02 Eur on it as well.

I switched it off myself (using the link on the page footer) within minutes and then took an hour or so to figure out why I had so much junk cluttering my Reader, because, as it turns out, Buzz messes with your follow list on there as well. And, of course, since filtering in Reader still sucks (i.e., is basically non-existent), \$DIVINITY forbid that one of your correspondents happens to have a thing for lolcats or a compulsion to share updates on their bowel movements.

Talk about a moronic approach to social networks and context – I use Facebook (barely) to keep in touch with folk I don’t e-mail and Twitter now mostly to keep track of trends, and I certainly do not want any of that (or similar) to clutter my inbox or my feeds.

If anyone at Google is reading this, repeat after me: Less is more. More junk is more noise. More noise is less time spent living.

Also, I want to choose my social circle, dammit. Until such time as Google Skynet takes over and every single electronic-mediated human interaction is mediated through you with AI-like levels of actual helpfulness, do not infer my social circle from the folk I correspond with. Even if it seems like a good idea to pre-populate it.

Because, you know, you got it so wrong.

As to the thing infiltrating (probably) every single Google web site, I would rather not have my (already waning) attention span turned into that of a gnat, thank you – there is a reason why I use different sites or tools for different things, just as there is a reason for every windowed desktop OS on the planet to have a foremost window – because that’s the context I want to look at.

I could go off in a tangent here and use this as an argument as to why the iPhone and iPad don’t really need multi-tasking because they’re context-focused devices and draw a parallel between the currently running application on those devices and the foremost window on a desktop OS, but I won’t. Someone else has probably slept enough to make that a cogent argument.

Polluting my context messes not just with my productivity (or progress, or enjoyment) but, first and foremost, with my patience. So yeah, Buzz stays off, and right now I’d rate it at 2.5 Farmvilles1 of noxious social radiation.

1 A _Farmville being a unit I made up on the spot to measure social or web-based annoyances – 1 is the level at which you first sought out a way to block your Facebook friend’s updates regarding their finding a stray duckling or it getting run over by a lawnmower, etc., and 5 is being forced to read a complete thread in 4chan (with all the associated cognitive/cultural dissonance). Using Flash in your home page automatically gives you 1.5 Farmvilles.