The Buzz Around Google – Labs, Charts, and Privacy

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Google’s new Buzz social networking/status updating/Twitter Killer/Facebook Slayer/doomsday app seems to have a life of its own in the blogosphere.  Even the Apple iPad didn’t get this kind of scrutiny.  Well, OK, maybe it did, but things quieted down quickly once Apple released prototypes to select testers and the bubble was burst and people learned how less-than-functional the thing is.

Google, however, seems to have created a tsunami and they’re determined to keep that tidal wave rolling.  Buzz is still all the, er, buzz, but there are a couple of other new things from Google that are riding that wave too.

In Google Labs is a new test bed for some great features for Google Maps.  Already the King of Internet Cartography, Google is still working to improve things in Maps.  Some cool new features are there if you click the Lab icon from maps.google.com.

A good explanation of the new features available is given at Blogoscoped here.  Some cool stuff includes the ability to drag and zoom into map areas, rotate maps on the screen, and search within a map area for sites, hotels, or whatever.  Very cool stuff.  Another good look at these features in detail can be read at PCWorld.

Another Labs experiment is Google Chart Tools.  Google announced these on the code blog yesterday afternoon.  These are pretty fun, allowing you to take just about anything you’d like and turn it into a chart or graph using one of two free APIs.  The Chart API give image-based charts like pies, graphs, and so forth.  The Visualization API gives interactive charts using a JavaScript library and somefunctionality similar to Google Maps.  Fun stuff.

But what would all this be without some controversy?  Robin Wauters at TechCrunch seems to think that using Google Buzz is like publishing your social security number while mentioning that you don’t know how to get a credit report to find out if you’re being robbed.  Back at Blogoscoped, though, their take is much nicer: only idiots will lose their privacy through Google Buzz, the rest of us will be fine.  Of course, it only takes one idiot suing Google to have them dumb down their defaults to the lowest common denominator, so I guess it’s only a matter of time.

I wonder if there’d be any money in that lawsuit…


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