Buzz Kill

Was you ever stung by a dead bee?Something happened tonight that made me question everything I’ve done with social media since I first joined Twitter in late 2006.
You know me – I’m a complete web whore. I sign up for every site, try every web app, use every service I can find. It’s my job, but I also love doing it. I believe in the Internet as a communication tool. I love trying the myriad new ways people are using it to connect and I believed that social media specifically had some magic new potential to bring us together.

When Google announced Buzz last year I was one of the first to jump on the bandwagon. I welcomed a competitor to Twitter that had the community features I loved in Friendfeed and Jaiku, and I thought Google had the best chance to create a second generation social network. I defended Google for its initial privacy stumbles and I began to use Buzz exclusively, replacing Twitter, Friendfeed, and Facebook. I built a following of over 17,000 people. I was happy.

Then last night I noticed that my Buzzes were no longer showing up on Twitter (I use a service called Buzz Can Tweet that has been pretty reliably rebroadcasting my Buzz posts to Twitter.) I looked more closely at my Buzz feed and noticed that there had been considerably less engagement over the past few weeks. Then I noticed that I wasn’t seeing my posts in my Buzz timeline at all. A little deeper investigation showed that nothing I had posted on Buzz had gone public since August 6. Nothing. Fifteen posts buried, including show notes from a week’s worth of TWiT podcasts.

Maybe I did something wrong to my Google settings. Maybe I flipped some obscure switch. I am completely willing to take the blame here. But I am also taking away a hugely important lesson.

No one noticed.

Not even me.

It makes me feel like everything I’ve posted over the past four years on Twitter, Jaiku, Friendfeed, Plurk, Pownce, and, yes, Google Buzz, has been an immense waste of time. I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. All this time I’ve been pumping content into the void like some chatterbox Onan. How humiliating. How demoralizing.

Thank God the content I deem most important, my Internet and broadcast radio shows, still stand. I believe in what I’m doing there, and have been very fortunate to have found an audience. I’m pretty sure I would have heard from people if there had been 16 days of dead silence there. Hell, if we miss one show I get hundreds of emails. But I feel like I’ve woken up to a bad social media dream in terms of the content I’ve put in others’ hands. It’s been lost, and apparently no one was even paying attention to it in the first place.

I should have been posting it here all along. Had I been doing so I’d have something to show for it. A record of my life for the last few years at the very least. But I ignored my blog and ran off with the sexy, shiny microblogs. Well no more. I’m sorry for having neglected you Leoville. From now on when I post a picture of a particularly delicious sandwich I’m posting it here. When I complain that Sookie is back with Bill, you’ll hear it here first. And the show notes for my shows will go here, too.

Social media, I gave you the best years of my life, but never again. I know where I am wanted. Screw you Google Buzz. You broke my heart.

76 Replies to “Buzz Kill”

  1. The break up of any relationship can be tough, don’t say anything now that you might regret later! The last thing you want is to have to crawl back to facebook after the hype over you quitting, and I presume buzz will be the same
    Social Networks do have a function, for the random posts that give an insights into the world of another person they’re perfect. I do agree with alot of what you brought up, Blogs are more suitable for what you post, wiki is more suitable for show notes and IRC is dare I say it more suitable for people chatting while following the live show, all controlled by you.
    That’s how I see it. Everything has it’s place, nothing is the answer to everything.

  2. despite how sad this sounds, i truly think the things you say are too valuable for microblogging. its rare someone has a lot to say and i want to hear *all* of it. blog it up!

  3. Have a menu tab for showing posts of “this week’s tweets” like andy does.

  4. Oddly enough Leo, I found this post whenI saw it pop up in your twitter feed.  I think the problem is that there are just too many social media products all doing the same thing.  This makes it difficult for everyone to notice, unless you aggregate your content across all services.
    Google Buzz was an unnecessary foray into the micro blogging sphere, and Google effectively killed it when they goofed on the security issue early on.  This lost the trust of many, and when Twitter is so dominant in this arena, most saw no reason to change.  I include myself here.
    I use my Twitter & Facebook feeds purely as a marketing tool for my podcast.  Outside of that, I keep the content I think is important enough not to be forgotten on my blog & website – there in perpetuity for all to read, if they so choose.
    And even before Buzz broke your heart, this was a lesson I learned from you.

  5. Blogging, the old standard, it’s time to streamline things Leo! Good for you, when you have to many internet podiums to stand from
    your voice gets a little less loud. I look forward to more of your blog posts
    and welcome back!

  6. You raise some interesting points, Leo, but I think it overstates it to think people weren’t listening to you when they heard you, just because no one said anything when they didn’t hear from you.
    If social media is like a big public square where we can listen to the people we want to hear, then we do hear you when you speak.  But we’re also listening to hundreds of others.  When you walk through that square everyday, if one of the hundreds of voices you often here is suddenly silent, then it may take a while to notice.  Unless you are one of the really annoying folks there, or a close personal friend, your absence won’t be noticed.  
    In other words, when present you are noticed and can provide value.  When absent, well, we get distracted.
    Besides, it’s not like I’m going to think, “Hey, I haven’t head from Leo lately,” because your constantly talking in my ear when a new show comes out.
    The reason no one noticed, is that your are not supremely annoying, nor are you a close personal friend, nor are you ever absent from your fans’ lives.
    To thow another analogy into the soup, since many of us just dip into the social media stream throughout the day, my assumption would be that I simply missed the posts of someone I haven’t heard from.
    You shouldn’t neglect Leoville.  The Blog form is powerful.  It’s also a very different tool for a different purpose than Buzz, Twitter, Jaiku, or any of them.  The biggest mistake bloggers make with social media is thinking it’s a replacement for a blog.  
    Microblogging is a much a replacement for Blogging, as a hammer is a replacement for a violin.

  7. Hi Leo.This is very interesting and made me think too about the value of social networking.  I think you also illustrate the importance of keeping control of your content too, which I always think about keeping copies of the content I post out on social networking sites and do back up this content so that you can then publish it where ever you want, especially should the site hosting the content disappear.  Maybe it might be worth using the tool that Gina Trapani developed for doing just this.  Your posts belong to you after all.
    Take care.

  8. Leo,You have been saying for a long time that Twitter is the “central nervous system” of the internet.  After a night of heavy drinking (or an hour at TWiT Cottage during the wine sponsor days), you lose some brain cells. The next day, you don’t notice they’re gone and you don’t feel stupider.  But after a lifetime of heavy drinking, the system starts to fall apart.
    I love when a link from @ebertchicago, a non sequitor from @georgelazenby, a joke from @hotdogsladies, or an incredible design technology from @jnack brightens my day.  If any one of these people stopped twittering, would I be upset?  Would it change my life?  No.  But the summation of all these posts in my twitter feed unquestionably provides me something that can’t come from anywhere else.  Something that is not quantifiable by each individual involved.
    You have a hugely important and influential voice in the tech industry.  Don’t remove yourself from the pulse of our time, our zeitgeist, just because it’s not a good way for your devoted followers to see everything you post, unconditionally.
    A Person From The Internet whose singularly meaningless contribution to the collective aether of consciousness is at

  9. Welcome back, Leo 🙂 I enjoy the micro blogs, but they are no replacement for personal websites. Also, as we are slowly beginning to realize, there are definite downsides to relying on a third party to manage all our personal information and data.
    And I deactivated buzz after Google’s their privacy blunder so I never read what you posted there. A blog like this is available to everyone — but please choose another commenting system. People shouldn’t be obligated to register at another service in order to post comments. I look forward to reading your blog again 🙂

  10. Welcome back Leo. Glad I kept Leoville in my RSS reader all this time. 

  11. It’s not really Buzz’s fault though, it’s the fault of that obscure plug-in you’ve been using (buzz can tweet) it’s not really something that buzz is responsible for so it’s a bit unfair to blame it.

  12. I have been thinking about this recently too. I think that your website should be the center with Twitter and the like as helpers. If anything just automated tweets when you post an entry.

  13. Leo, 
    You were right then that Twitter is the nervous system of the Internet.  You’re not wrong about that.  That premise still holds true today, imho.  the fastest news source is still on twitter.  I even met a potential client on twitter just recently.  While I didn’t follow you to Buzz, I still follow TWiT and Macbreak Weekly because that’s the most important thing.  imho, social networks are like moons and blogs, and podcasts or whatever business you are is the Earth.  
    Recently, I saw that a business on local TV was advertising their Facebook link and not their blog.  
    Social media should revolve around us.  It is a channel for people reach us with and interact and get that sense of community.  At the end of the day, Social Networks are only effective if they channel back to you.  Like email they’re conduit to us, I think we’ve all forgotten that a little— so thank you for reminding us.  

  14. Uhm, Leo, sorry you trusted Google, but can’t you just use some importer tool to get most of your stuff from your external sites back into your main blog?  And what about friendfeed, which seems to still be chugging along with buzz-style commenting (before buzz existed) along after all these years?

  15. Don’t be disheartened. You’re so connected, having a single channel down is less noticeable. Don’t give up on Buzz because it let you down. Stay involved & help them improve the service with your feedback. Some things are worth the effort to fix.Still… it’s good to have a backup channel. 🙂 

  16. For what it’s worth, Leo, I did notice. That being said, 1 out of >17,000 is a statistical anomaly.
    I believe social media has its place, and I’m going to back up Cocoy’s opinion that social networks are the signpost on the net that points out where you live (e.g.,, Leoville, what-have-you). I’ve never believed the marketing hype that social networks are somehow the future, but I fear that many have drank from the kool-aid and are trying to pass cups around (anything to do with Facebook, for one).
    I’m looking forward to listening to tomorrow’s TWiT. This should be interesting.

  17. Except that I couldn’t see Leo’s Buzz posts in my Buzz timeline. Leo didn’t even see his own posts in his combined timeline. The only way to see the posts was to load Leo’s profile and pull up the Buzz section. The fact that BuzzCanTweet wasn’t federating his Buzz posts out to Twitter was Leo’s first tip-off that something was wrong.
    I’d say that that’s Buzz’s fault.

  18. It’s true, I find it much more satisfying when no one reads my blog than when no one reads my Twitter.

  19. I think the question has never been if you like the current situation or not. I guess it’s more about communication, speed and to find out how to use newer technologies to improve/enhance the “old” ones.
    That’s why in my opinion the answer mustn’t be “tweeting instead of blogging” but should be something like “tweeting to enhance blogging”.

  20. Leo, I love your work. You have been a pioneer in Internet Media and an insipration to Tech Guys everywhere.  I subscribe to your podcasts and read your blogs.  I never missed the lack of Twitter posts (I never did like Buzz) because quite frankly, they were boring.  Please don’t condemn all Social media because of it.

  21. I am starting to think the same thing…. I do like my tumblr, but i must admit i find it hard to comment on other posts… 

  22. Just glad that you have finally seen the light. A blog is the only method to say anything worth while, lasting, and worthy. All the rest are for broadcasting about your blog post. Long live blogging! 

  23. what i think about google buzz is good google buzz is nothing bad , i have no one using  buzz but i just click follow and follow and follow , and they follow me back , and ive met people even from the india china arabia and make friends ,so i think its great having buzz around>

  24. Buzz was too complicated for the average Joe, hence it’s early demise. Glad your back on Leoville. Yes it was a long time since you posted here, but the great news is that your back.
    You can backup your tweets and stuff on ‘Backupify’ for a record of what you’ve contributed to social media. Twitter is the platform of choice, it’s fast, short and it’s well accepted.
    Thanks for being my inspiration to begin podcast too! I’ve had mine going for several years now and have my first sponsor signed up.
     Phillies Talk Podcast

  25. Interesting! I was thinking about how much attention people pay to micro-blogging. As you said maybe they are busy just broadcasting info than just reading what others say. In fact, if what you think is true, it is a total waste of time to pay too much attention to those microblog services and forget the traditional blog.This makes me think…

  26. I have never got Buzz myself. I only use Twitter as a news feed now also.
    With a blog you know whose come to see you and you know they are only here to see you.

  27. Good tip, but I think the extreme reaction-> microblogging has no value may be off. Some folks may have noticed but it’s hard to hear silence in a room of shouting people. Your lack of posts on buzz were swallowed up by others’ updates.

  28. I’ve always held the opinion that “tweeting” and all services like twitter are pretentious and/or narcissistic.  I really don’t care that “Sallys” about to go run to the store or that “Johns” eating a burger at his favorite little restaurant.  I wish I wasn’t aware of half of the remedial crap that I (we all) have to do from day to day.  Don’t get me wrong, there are practical uses for this type of technology.

  29. Presumptious of Google to name it Buzz anyway, pehaps it came over in a Wave of social media apathy orkut it be just that search is all they can bebo?

  30. I dis actually notice them missing, but its so hard to get you attention. by the way, notice just about all replies are from twitter… 

  31. I noticed you were gone!  Wondered if you’d given up on Twitter.  I hope you’ll stay with Twitter even just to post pointers to your blog.

  32. I do agree with you. Blogs are the better way to go. Keep in mind I, like many others, tend to use the services more like news feeds(twitter, windowslive, facebook so on). So, I wouldn’t discount them all yet.
    Just keep the TWiT network rockin.. and i’m sure we’ll all be watchin..

  33. You are a very busy guy Leo so its understandable you may not have noticed for a few days, but yes it does give food for thought about using social media.

  34. You are most have something to show for the past 2 years of your life.  Your podcasts encouraged me to make a career change and improve my quality of like 10 fold. 

  35. I noticed that no post were being publicised. But I thought something was wrong with MY buzz. Oh the irony.

  36. I have had you in my Google Reader feed for a couple years, but I just realized I was following you Friendfeed. Switching to the Leoville feed. 🙂

  37. I couldn’t agree more Leo. I’ve always considered the micro blog type sites nothing more than a playground where your posts have a life measured in minutes before they are burried in other posts. Put it on a blog and it’s there forever.Many have said RSS is dead. This is a prime example of why RSS has more value than ever.

  38. To be honest, I thought you were taking a break with your daughter going off to college and all.  But you’re right, I wonder about the value of social media sometimes.  On the one hand, I’ve been able to catch a few cool live things because I was following someone.  Or got a deal on something.  Or simply found out about something I wouldn’t have otherwise.  Not to mention being able to  interact with folks like Rahul Sood at HP.  You get a feeling of actual contribution when they acknowledge you.
    On the other hand, does anyone want to know traffic has pissed me off this morning?  Eh, probably a few people, but does it need to be broadcasted all over?  
    So for me, there’s still a little value in following twitter users, it’s a more live RSS feed I guess.  The downfall is the lack of being able to start a conversation really.  Blogs are still useful as a single point to collect your ongoings… and to cut back on excessive content over saturation.

  39. I cannot disagree with this more. Microblogs are all I pay attention to these days. I rarely skim through my RSS reader and I never go directly to blogs checking for updates. You can write the most awesome post on your blog, but the only way I would ever read it is if you tweeted about it with a link.
    I’m sorry to hear about your experience with Buzz. I don’t use Buzz; I’m all about Twitter and I know as well as anyone how frustrating it can be when Twitter is overloaded. That said, it is really up to me to notice if the platform I’m communicating on is working and I would be a fool to use that as a reason to say Social Media in general sucks. 
    << I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. >>
    This is the statement I disagree with the most. While there are certainly those out there who just shout across the canyon, I don’t think this the case for the vast majority of us. To me Social Media is all about the conversation. In fact I’m so busy having conversations, it would be very easy for me to not notice if someone I was not talking with (a shouter) has gone silent. 
    My opinion as to why you yourself did not notice your social feed wasn’t working is because you spent so much time shouting you failed to realize no one was actually responding. Had you spent more time talking to people instead of shouting, the people you were talking to would definitely have missed you.
    Oh by the way, after I had written this comment, I went to add another social media site above and it erased my entire comment. Blogs aren’t immune from suckage, sometimes shiz just happens.

  40. Leo, I’m sorry to say but you missed the point. Services like Twitter or the not-so-well adopted Google Buzz are not there to replace your blog or other means of expressing yourself. They are there for another resaon. I still don’t get why serious bloggers ditched their blogs and try to replace it with services like twitter. Come on, twitter allows you to have 140 characters at a time. No serious expression of thoughts can fit in that small space.
    I use twitter for something else. I see twitter as a link sharing community. My friends are there, a lot of “strangers” are there finding my posts by searching in the huge database. I do not use it to replace my blog postings, I still blog. I export a link to my blog postings on twitter though. It allows me and many others to share links to interesting information. It also allows me to “broadcast” some small thoughts, not worthy enough to devote a whole blogpost to it.
    And then for your observation nobody noticed. In fact, I think a lot of people noticed it. I have your twitter account in my stream as well. I also have twitlive, tricaster and other accounts linked to what you do. They have not gone silent. I was still able to keep  up with what you do. Therefore no alarm bells were going off YET.
    It becomes a problem when the community is too much spread out against the various services and sharing only reaches a small percentage of the community that might otherwise be interested in your stuff. That’s when we have to do crap like feeding one service feeds to another like you did with Buzz Can Tweet etc. It broke something vital on twitter too as you were no longer able to participate in the twitter discusions around your posts as you simply didn’t see them.
    My advice, use the services wisely. Twitter is a nice broadcasting platform with might very well replace RSS if it didn’t already done so. If you post a link to your blog posting on twitter, all twitter followers will be happy as they keep in touch with you. You might draw even new “followers” by doing so. A retweet is just one click away, something RSS can’t do at all.
    Social media like facebook, I couldn’t agree more. They are a waste of time mostly. Though sometimes it can be useful too. Everyone should decide for themselves what to expect of it and keep wondering if still is what was expected, if not…. Ditch it ! 🙂

  41. I noticed there weren’t show notes on buzz, but I thought it was because you were on vacation.

  42. Leo I couldnt have said it better. You were the tree that fell that no one heard. I figured the reason I hadnt seen many tweets from you was you were busy. At least with your blog youve hung the sign on your own storefront and you and your readers/listenters will know where to find it.

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