February 11, 2010

Buzz!! - My reason for disabling it

The word Buzz reminds me of the shaking message windows from the good old days when I used to use Yahoo messenger. However, the new buzz from Yahoo's arch rival Google did more and zapped me instead of the web browser.

I logged into gmail yesterday from INRIA and I was asked if I was interested in buzz. I clicked on disable Buzz as I thought it was just another gmail labs feature. Opening google reader just after lunch showed me that I had 11 new followers. I was amazed, as most of the followers were ones whom I had last contacted a few years back. I was unable to understand as to why these people were all of a sudden, in the same day, interested in the blogs I read. I ignored it and got back to work. The gmail was still active in some firefox window and when I logged out at night there were no signs of buzz in gmail. Later at night when I connected to google reader from my residence, I saw the same stuff, but this time even more number of followers. At first I thought it was an attack and when I opened gmail, I saw buzz written in bold with a 1 next to it just below inbox. I thought I had disabled it as I clearly remember that my gmail session at INRIA did not have buzz. It showed I was following 30 people and about 40 people were following me. When I clicked on one my old friends name (whom I was following for no reason), I could see the names of all the people he was following.

This scared the hell out of me. I could virtually see almost all the contacts of my friend; some of whom which I believe he would have liked to hide from me :). Anyways just as I could see his contact list, I believe someone else could see all my contacts and the list of people whom my account was forced to follow without asking me any questions. The disable buzz, which my friend told me today, was nowhere to be found in the settings tabs. Now my gmail shows me the last 100 emails and I never scroll down; I should have scrolled as the disable buzz was placed right next to disable chat. I had to manually unfollow all the accounts I was following and disable all the sites such as google reader and picasa which were being shared by me.

I disabled buzz today and as of now I do not have any regrets. I am not very active on social networks and most probably I will not be in the near future. 99% of the time, I am not interested to see what videos my friends are viewing or what they have in mind. This is the very reason why I do not have a twitter account. I use google reader to read blogs and to see which blogs my friends found worthy of sharing; I use orkut and facebook (I still use and prefer the old orkut in low bandwidth mode) to connect with my friends and classmates. I use picassa and flickr to upload the photos and manually send the links to my parents and friends using email; the links to albums of the places I visit are shared using facebook and orkut. I am fine with using multiple web-tools to share my data. I don't mind logging into these handful of website as this decentralized approach gives me some virtual hierarchical structure to organize the stuff. And most of all I am not comfortable sharing my email contacts to every tom-dick-and-harry of this planet.

So buzz is disabled and I believe it will be disabled for some time to come, at least till google sorts out this privacy issue which I believe most of us are facing.

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