There’s a lot of “Buzz” going around lately about Google Buzz being a Facebook or Myspace killer. Jason Calacanis, Mahalo founder and lover of Tesla, goes to the extent of saying with Buzz, Facebook lost half its value. Thomas Hawk, an amazing photographer and avid FriendFeed user, stated on FriendFeed that Google Buzz is going to “Kick MySpace’s A**”. While I don’t doubt that Myspace is already having difficulties, I really don’t see Buzz being competition at all for the Facebooks or Myspaces or even Orkuts of this world. It’s a matter of apples and oranges, or metaphorically speaking, just dust in an elephant’s trunk.
There’s a term I like to apply to the Twitter, Buzz, and FriendFeed phenomenas when compared to Facebook and Myspace and Orkut that I call, “Horton’s Megaphone”. We all live in a personal world of friends, family, teachers, doctors, and pets. That’s our reality. We live in it from day to day and it is what we are most familiar with. Yet, there’s another reality we all want to be a part of. Without being heard we’re at risk of missing out on career opportunities, growing our businesses, or maybe even fame or fortune. There’s a need beyond this current reality to get word about ourselves out to other realities beyond our inner circle of friends and family. It’s a competition for discovery about who we are.
This is where Horton comes in. In the Dr. Seuss book, “Horton Hears a Who!”, we see a completely different reality from our own, the “Whos”, whose entire reality exists in just a small speck of dust within our own. They have mayors and doctors and family and friends and neighbors, and live a grand life. But when tragedy strikes they are stuck trying to get an alternate reality to hear them. Their final survival ends up relying on their voices, a megaphone, and an elephant named Horton who had the heart to listen. “We are here! We are here! We are here!” they shouted in desperation through that megaphone, trying to get the attention of reality. Sounds familiar.
Buzz is simply that megaphone used to create contact with the real world. It’s a way we can get word out to alternate realities beyond our own to ensure our own survival as individuals, businesses, and organizations on the internet. Buzz, Twitter, and FriendFeed are where your own realities get to speak with other realities you would have never come in contact with before they existed.
There is no way Facebook should feel even a little bit threatened by Buzz (unless they’re trying to grow FriendFeed). They are two entirely different communication mediums. On Facebook I don’t need a megaphone to communicate with my close friends and family, which it was designed for. On Buzz I can’t find old friends from High School or even Elementary School, or old clubs or groups I used to belong to like I can on Facebook. I don’t have groups or shared events or life photos of all those close friends and family. Facebook is where real life happens. It’s the Elephant, the real world, reality. Some call it a “walled garden”. I call it reality, where everybody knows your name.
Buzz is (and Twitter and FriendFeed are) just an entity of individuals, most which do not know each other and each having their own realities, all trying to compete for the attention of real life. It’s a different type of communication. On these platforms it’s a competition for attention (which is why everyone wants to compete for the highest number of followers). On Facebook (and Myspace and Orkut to an extent) that competition is already won.
Facebook has the holy grail of networks right now – real life connections and relationships that are all able to connect and share with one another. It is where each and everyone on Buzz wants to be. The real value is in those real-life connections. Otherwise we are all just specs of dust in an elephants trunk.
“We are here! We are here! We are here!”