On the surface it may appear that Google simply created Buzz as a social network add-on for Gmail. But in reality the Mountain View, Calif. search engine launched the beginning of a hub that could eventually connect to forums, third-party PC and mobile applications, as well as other social sites.
Google recognizes the need to allow data and people to seamlessly travel between portals and Web sites. Gmail Buzz users will get a better picture of that soon. In a Buzz post, Google Software Engineer DeWitt Clinton directs followers to code in Buzz Labs who want to better understand Google's social network API strategy. It explains how the social network will connect with other sites and information through a variety of protocols, such as Activity Streams, Atom, AtomPub, MediaRSS, WebFinger, PubSubHubbub, Salmon, OAuth, and XFN.
It doesn't talk much about Google because the goal isn't Google-centric, Clinton writes. "The idea is that someday any host on the Web should be able to implement these open protocols and send messages back and forth in real time with users from any network, without any one company in the middle," he adds. "The Web contains the social graph. The protocols are standard Web protocols. The messages can contain whatever crazy stuff people think to put in them."
Buzz will open the Web to the social graph Web and software engineers have been touting for years. Clinton explains that Google Buzz will become just another node among many. Users of any two systems will have options to send updates back and forth, federate comments, share photos, send replies and more without needing Google in the middle and without using a Google-specific protocol or format.
Terry Van Horne, founder at SEOPros, says the API uses what looks similar to OpenSocial code, so it will set up relationships, and perhaps that's why the privacy issues have been raised recently. He says the OpenSocial API is about using machine-readable code to uncover relationships.
"Buzz also will become part of a deeper set of advertising targeting mechanisms," says David Harry, Reliable-SEO founder. "This will enable Google to offer advertisers the ability to target AdWords to specific demographics better."
Google also has been working on a connection with MySpace. It would give people the ability to share video via Google buzz. Chris Messina, who supports the Google Buzz API forum, writes that this is something the Google Buzz team continues to work on, but hasn't found a solid fix yet. "It's definitely high priority, and once we're ready, or have an idea of the API, we'll announce it on this list," Messina writes.
Third-party application developers already have begun to build communities around Buzz. On Tuesday, the first third-party Buzz search engine Buzzzy emerged. The engine, which touts real-time search results, comes from WorkDigital in the United Kingdom. And while it's not associated with Google, it does pull content from a variety of social networks. The site indexes information from Google Reader, Twitter, FriendFeed and Buzz.
Aside from search engines, BuzzUsers.com is a third-party discussion forum that popped up as a message board to support users and offer interesting banter to spur ideas. There Buzz users can find user trips and tricks, as well as discussions on marketing campaigns.