Bing, Buzz, Bip Bop Boo

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What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a-happenin’,
What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a-happenin’,
What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a-happenin’,
What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a-happenin’,

Why should you want to know?
Don’t you mind about the future?
Don’t you try to think ahead?
Save tomorrow for tomorrow;
Think about today instead.

- “What’s the Buzz?” from Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Back in the Good Ol’ Days „¢, AOL had dominance in the online world. It started as a self-contained entity with its own news, shopping, and social interactions. The “Internet” was this other stuff that you had to pay extra to get to on a per minute basis, unless you purchased AOL’s more expensive unlimited plan. In fact, less savvy users often thought that AOL WAS the Internet, and couldn’t imagine accessing information through any other method. Browser? What’s a browser?

Fast forward a decade or so and we like to think we’re so much better off with so many options, especially within the realm of searching and social networking. However, there’s much evidence today’s social networking corporations have the same attitudes as AOL did. They only want you to play in their sandbox.

Bing

Let’s start alphabetically with Bing.com. While not a social networking site, they have inherited all of the exclusivity of their parent company, Microsoft. They have even invented their own malady, Search Engine Overload, to scare others toward their “decision” engine.” I think what sent me over the edge was when I tried to install their Bing 3D Maps, supposedly their answer to Google Earth. I go the following message:

Make Bing my default search engine and prevent other programs from interfering with my choice.

If I had checked that box I would have been locked into Bing permanently, I guess. The second part of that statement, “interfering with my choice,” is deliberately misleading. If you click this box, you have no choice.

Buzz

It’s not all fun and games on the other side, either. Google’s latest foray into social networking is Buzz. At first glance, it’s pretty cool. You can have status updates from you and your friends sent directly to your GMail inbox. It has some interesting location-awareness applications. It also interfaces very nicely with YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and other websites with RSS feeds.

However, that’s where the cooperation stops. You can get data into Buzz, but you can’t get it out. It would be very nice if Buzz would interface with Facebook, but it doesn’t, and there are no plans to create this connectivity. Mashable.com does a better job of describing this problem. At least it’s better than Google Wave, which had almost no way have getting outside data inserted into conversations.

Bip Bop Boo

Twitter, Ping.fm, and Friendfeed play much nicer with others. They don’t try to be closed systems, and are happy to share their data with other social networking sites. As such, I usually just update Twitter, and let its status updates feed to all of the other social networking sites I’m on – Buzz, Friendfeed, this website, and even Facebook. It makes it easy on me, and anyone who follows me on any of those sites can keep up with what I want them to know.

Speaking of Facebook…

Facebook tends to be a closed system just like Google Buzz. It does have third-party applications that bring in RSS feeds, Twitter updates, etc, but it doesn’t provide its own outbound feeds. That also applies, somewhat, to any media on the site. Facebook does provide the handy “Share this photo with anyone by sending them this public link” at the bottom of each photo. Clicking on the link opens your default e-mail application so you can e-mail someone the link. You can copy the public link and embed the photo in other web pages.

Video is another matter. Facebook doesn’t provide embed codes or the direct link to videos. However, there is a way around this. In my Hidden Columbia post I was able to embed videos from Facebook using a workaround. The ID number for each video can be seen in the video’s URL in the address bar. Just replace the XXX’s in the code below with the ID number, and you can embed the Facebook videos into websites, etc.

<object width="400" height="224" >
 <param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" />
 <param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" />
 <param name="movie" value="http://www.facebook.com/v/xxx" />
 <embed src="http://www.facebook.com/v/xxx" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"
   allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="224">
 </embed>
</object>

It would be great if all of these systems would play together nicely. Some do to a better extent than others. It boils down to the fact that if there is revenue to be made, you want to steer as much traffic your way as possible, and creating a closed system seems to be the best way to do that.

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