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Google Buzz Gets Whacked: Why Care?

CJ Westerberg, February 18, 2010 1:16 PM


We Have To Understand On-Line Privacy Issues
To Be Able To Educate Our Kids About Them

By C.J.

A big miss-step by Google.  The idea that they would launch a social-networking service last week that is controlled by a software algorithm (instead of the customer) is nearly insane.  In other words, your top e-mail list would have automatically become your network of public contacts without you, the customer, having a say about it.

Google has switched that feature out - goodbye - along with a few other privacy inclusions the last few days from the adverse reaction by the press and the reality check after the initial glow of the news.  In fact, a lawsuit is under way, according to The San Francisco Chronicle (see link to Cnet story below).   Two short videos below (the 2nd one drops the "f - bomb" so no kids around please).   The first is the original launch promo with the second being a parody.

Such a knee-jerk move to get something on the market quickly without understanding what customers want and how they want it.  So not Google's usual style of a long closed beta mode.  And the nonchalance with regard to privacy?

Which brings us to our kids.  The press had a field day recently with the Kaiser Report about how much time kids are spending on-line and/or with electronics ("shocked" and "horrified"   were the words bandied about the increase of usage).  Well, if you look around, the world has moved on-line.  It's ubiquitous and it ain't going away.  So I say deal with it already.

There is rarely a day that goes by where I either am extolling the virtues or cursing the evils of technology, and most likely both.  But what I do know is we have to be as informed and vigilant as we possibly can be about this topic, with privacy issues, in particular. 

We cannot teach/guide/steer our kids to great safe driving if we don't know how to drive.  If we leave "that stuff" only to schools or some cyber-safety class, we will remain clueless and not even really understand what they are doing even when we are there.   It's like sex education in a way, you can't prevent every teen pregnancy, but you sure better not just turn the other way and hope for the best.   

Technology is such an important topic to be discussing with our kids.  I am constantly asking to see my daughter's blog (Greek mythology) and videos (mainly spoof commercials).   It's great to see her create, to write, to make compositions with imagery and text.  This is not "bad" time because it is time "on-line".  She's actually producing work and understanding the concept of gradual improvement over time with new iterations - not a waste of time by any means.

But we also hold our breath, even though we are vigilant about teaching her about Internet privacy,  and hope that dancing video with the girls in their pj's doesn't make it to utube in a moment of excitement with their production, especially since it has become too easy in this age of one-click wonders.  We go through the possible consequences and ramifications again and again, and paint the picture in different ways to try to make that connection.

Her friends can be very influential too so we find ourselves helping her friends understand the same thing since peer pressure and dares become more apparent in the tween years.  We are often surprised by how little these kids get from their parents other than a few rules like never giving out names and addresses.  And, then there are the parents who are Luddites, no electronics, no way.

One of my parent friends gave me a cast -of- characters "portrayal" of the "types" he encounters at dinner parties: the people who bemoan the increased usage by our youth on one hand while being the ones who admit they either "know nothing of that computer stuff, and/or are the ones Facebooking you at 8:00 at night, and/or are secretly happy that their kids are quiet somewhere, and/or isn't that cute little Sarah already has 100 friends on Facebook and she's only 8 - how popular?"

The other obvious route for tech-overload is just to unplug...have specific times that are simply designated "unwired time".    This is the easiest home tradition to enforce and apparently it is working for a lot of friends and colleagues.  It initially can be unnerving if you are a household with TV's, laptops and Nintendo's all operating at once. 

For those of us who are saying "Horrors, couldn't possibly be us" - it's like asking how many calories a day one consumes and why is the real answer always a surprise?    The off-limit time seems to work this household and "methinks the parents have the harder time of it".  (Sad, but true.)   

This is new territory every day (just heard of a new video Facebooky site that I'm still wrapping my head around - apparently high schoolers are into it already),  all but let's not throw up our hands in the air in retreat.  Know this is just the tip of the ice-berg but think privacy is one of the most key issues of our time.

Back to Google Buzz.    Here are links to three good articles to get up to speed:

The first is CNET's "What Google Needs To Learn From Buzz Backlash" here.

Another link here:

What is more surprising? The fact that Google claims it was taken aback by the negative reaction to its Buzz feature, the one that ventured to make public your most frequent e-mail contacts? Or the fact that a couple of law firms have got together to present Google with a class action lawsuit?
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, law firms in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. have filed a suit on behalf of Eva Hibnick. Hibnick is a Florida woman who has been chosen to represent the many Gmail users who felt, well, used, when Google launched Buzz.

Here's the third from Jared Newman over at PC World.  Link here to full article:

As the initial excitement over Google Buzz turned to fears of poor privacy safeguards, Google scrambled to tweak the social networking service and satisfy its users. The result is a Google Buzz that's fundamentally different than the one Google unveiled at its Mountain View headquarters last week.

Two short videos below (the 2nd one drops the "f - bomb" so no kids around please).   The first is the original launch promo with the second being a parody:


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