Opening Gmail today came with a splashscreen for the new service which is an attempt to make Gmail a social networking HUB. Innocuous as it may seem, this splash screen made me immediately aware two things: 1) new avenues to sharing my online experience now afforded me and 2) the fact that my inbox is not my own.
With the release of Google Buzz today, I feel particularly at the mercy of the informatics merchants I rely on for easy communications technologies. My Gmail space is of course operated by Google, which gives them the ability to maintain the services I use, add new features, and alter me to them with the splash screen. This also means they have access to my inbox, as well as my search results, my Google Reader readings, my twitter feed, my calendar, everything really. Not exactly news, I know. Just how much of our digital lives Google owns and can use is a question that is always a few links under the surface. But what Google Buzz does for me is highlight how totally uncloistered my internet activities are as they get repeated back to my inbox with commentary.
So now I am being “followed” by my contact list. And no one else really. So what difference does it make if my friends and family see what I “liked” on Google Reader? Who am I, anyway. right? But, of course, lots of people care. People in the informatics economy. People like the good folks at Google.
Don’t get me wrong, Buzz looks to be very convienent. And, with that, I don’t have a problem paying for that convenience with my stats. Its always been my position that with all the freeware Google has given me, I don’t mind much that they sell my demographics. Always seemed like a fair trade to me. But today with Buzz, I feel its being foisted on me, the very public-domainness of being online, like I’m not feeding the monster enough.
And this may be the problem for me; its never enough. There is always more internet to categorize, more things to share, more statuses to update, more identity to manage. The beast is always hungry. The irony here is that Google Buzz was intended as a more efficient feeding system. What it feels like, though, is another mouth, salivating over my inbox.