Like many around the world, I just watched Google’s announcement of their initial rollout of the Google Buzz service, Google’s new product which aims to aggregate and organize all of your friend’s social content. Miss the announcement? Check out the short version here-
Sounds pretty neat huh? What’s not to love about a service that takes the best of what Google has to offer, along with the best features of Twitter and Foursquare, and puts them all in one place?
In my view, there’s a serious problem lurking, and it centers around what Google seems to think they are doing a great job of- contact management.
If you are a regular Gmail user, you know that everyone you email with, even once, be it to a company or even an unsubscribe address, is saved into your contact list under ‘All Contacts’. (This has served useful on an occasion or two, but for the most part just adds ‘clean out contact list’ to the weekly ‘to do’ list.)
It is from this contact list that Google populates all your other contact lists, such as your Google Voice contacts, your Google Reader friends, and so on. Not having to re-create your contact list across every service can be nice. But what if you don’t want the same contacts on every service?
Google looks at you and gives you the finger.
As far as I can tell, there is no way to separate out your Google contacts from one service to the next. See those ‘unnamed contact’ entries in the picture? They have no information other than the address to Google profiles. No names, no photos, no identifying information whatsoever. They are people that I follow on Google Reader because they have interesting shares. Yet as you can see, if I try to delete them from my Google Voice account where they are not useful and just clutter things up, they will be removed from my Google Reader list.
Do I really need my Google Reader friends in my Voice account?
As much as I love integrated contact lists, with the sheer amount of services Google provides, some method of managing and deleting contacts from one service without losing them in another needs to be provided, or people will very quickly find themselves sharing information with those they might not want to be sharing with.