Google Buzz off

Today I opened up my Gmail account to see a message from Google asking me if I wanted to activate Buzz, their new "social" service in my gmail inbox. I knew about this from the reports on mashable but thought that it was all a bad dream.

In my opinion, Google Buzz will turn out to be a bad dream for Google in the long term and here's why I think that. As a long time fan of gmail, I have always put my trust in Google to look after my information, and to keep my contacts a closely guarded secret. Alright, there were some suspicions that Google was not too sure of how private I liked my email, such as the linked advertising and google chat's seemingly random addition of contacts into the main list.

All of these little privacy invasions though could be forgiven in the past because the service of gmail was so far superior to any other email provider out there and they were only passively invasive into my personal space. And that's what email should be. PERSONAL space.

But now, with Buzz, gmail is actively looking to make our content public. I and many other gmail adopters didn't sign up for a public system to share our content with many people. We signed up for a private and personal system to manage our contacts and communicate personally without having to look over our shoulder at who might be watching.

There are many examples of where the contents of my inbox may be damaging if it fell into the wrong hands, and I still trust that google won't divulge this. However, by suggesting that people add me to their Buzz contacts and make it easy to connect with what was essentially my private profile they open us up to all sorts of intrusive opportunity.

But more so than other networks? I share all over the place, so why make such a big fuss about this? Because this is my INBOX we're talking about. It's a whole private ecosystem that I created purely for me. I don't even let Elena look at it.

On the web, we create contacts and personas under different guises, most of which filter back to our inboxes anyway. When I comment on postal stuff I may comment as Andytgeezer or as my REAL wall or as mini-Andy but the comment would usually be attributed to that persona and can be taken in context. I still take responsibility but in a persona that suits the topic.

By linking my public opinions with my private ecosystem, i.e. by making comments attributable to my inbox directly, I hold these views that I express as an individual, as a person who can be shot down. The person then becomes the centre of the discussion as opposed to the opinion.

This is a very bad thing indeed.

No longer can I be the e-learning expert or the postcard fanatic when the need requires, but instead I have to wear all caps at once and be held personally accountable.

Using a REAL wall analogy, by delivering messages straight to my gmail inbox, Buzz effectively takes the opinions of people and delivers them to my door, whereas before I would choose to go and pick them up in the places I wanted them. Imagine if people were to come over and knock on your door to hold you to account for something you said down the pub. That's the sort of fear it brings in me.

So, I've deactivated Buzz straight away. I have no intention of sharing any of my life online, except in the forums I choose and as the persona I want. It's not that I'm not accountable, but I want to choose when to be accountable. And I didn't sign up to gmail to share, I signed up to be bloody selfish and control what I want you to see.

So Buzz off Google. You're not for me
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