More On Google Buzz

Announced it yesterday, test-drive it today. I like that kind of instant gratification. I have been playing around with Buzz for the last hour or so. Do you use Gmail? Do you have a Google Profile? Just go to your Gmail inbox and you will see a little “buzz” icon right below your inbox button.

Clicking on it will take you into the Buzz stream composed of people you follow already in Google Reader or have contact with via your Gmail. The very first Buzz pane includes a little welcome to the service:

There is a standard status box at the top to be used for creating a new Buzz pane. But you can also email your post to buzz@gmail.com. You also can use the @ convention from Twitter to send a Buzz directly to a certain person. If you already have created groups in Gmail / GReader, you can send your Buzz to specific groups, via a drop down box in the Buzz pane.

You can connect external sites to Buzz, allowing it to serve as a social aggregator of sorts. When you do so, the experience starts to look a LOT like Friendfeed. You can comment on and “like” Buzzes, just as in GReader. The serial Buzz panes from your follows with likes and comments closely mirror the Friendfeed experience. In fact, Friendfeed is one of the external sites that you can import into Buzz.

As I post this, I am watching the number of new “Buzzes” in the GMail tab grow. In the past minute, over 20 new Buzzes have appeared. This kind of volume is certainly expected on the service’s first day – it will be interesting to see if the number tapers off as the shine dulls.

Once you comment or like a Buzz, subsequent updates will appear in your inbox. There are ways to silence the inevitable onslaught – there is a mute switch for posts that are particularly busy. You can turn Buzz off completely at the bottom of the screen. You always also can set up a filter for Buzz updates that routes them to another folder separate from the inbox.

I haven’t played with the location features yet, but I understand that you can get Buzz information when you point your mobile browser to buzz.google.com. Updates can be tagged with your location and you can see other Buzz posts from nearby.

My early impression is that it is an interesting marriage of email and Friendfeed. Not necessarily a bad thing, although I balk a bit at the mixing of my information sources – I am not completely convinced my email and my social networking should be intermingling in the same venue. They still serve different functions for me. Like Wave, Google may be trying to accomplish too much with a single application. Nonetheless, I am intrigued by the possibilities. If I can get over the learning curve of Buzz, it theoretically could collapse down my list of places I visit on a regular basis.

Oops. Now there are over 50 more unread Buzzes showing in the tab. Gotta go!

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Presto, Chango, Poof It’s Gone! It’s Vanish!

Spy Sweeper
Image via Wikipedia

So, all thieving aside, what do you do about that on-line information that you actually want to make disappear? Call up the University of Washington and get your hands on their “Vanish” application. Vanish imposes a time limit and self-destruct on any text uploaded to any web service via web browser. What kind of communications?  Electronic communications such as e-mail, Facebook posts and chat messages. More specifically, web-based e-mail such as Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail, Web chat, and text posted on social networking sites MySpace and Facebook. Using Vanish, they will automatically self-destruct by becoming irretrievable from all web sites, inboxes, outboxes, back up sites and home computers, lost even to the original sender.

Because web services archive indefinitely, hitting the delete button alone is not the answer for complete eradication. The implications become staggering as we move towards cloud computing, where everything resides on sites that can be accessed by the clever and quick.

Techwack explains the Vanish process:

The Vanish prototype washes away data using the natural turnover, called “churn,” on large file-sharing systems known as peer-to-peer networks. For each message that it sends, Vanish creates a secret key, which it never reveals to the user, and then encrypts the message with that key. It then divides the key into dozens of pieces and sprinkles those pieces on random computers that belong to worldwide file-sharing networks, the same ones often used to share music or movie files. The file-sharing system constantly changes as computers join or leave the network, meaning that over time parts of the key become permanently inaccessible. Once enough key parts are lost, the original message can no longer be deciphered.

In the current Vanish prototype, the network’s computers purge their memories every eight hours. (An option on Vanish lets users keep their data for any multiple of eight hours.)

No one need act on the data to make Vanish work: its own inherent properties result in the destruction, akin to a message written in the sand washed away by the tide, as suggested in the Techwhack article. The only way to save the information is to physically print it out before the self-destruct sequence enables, or copy and paste it into a word processing document on your computer’s hard drive.

Vanish was released today. You can get it free and open source on the Firefox browser.

How should lawyers view Vanish? The closing quote from researcher Todayashi Kohno says it all:

“Today many people pick up the phone when they want to talk with a lawyer or have a private conversation,” Kohno said. “But more and more communication is happening online. Vanish is designed to give people the same privacy for e-mail and the Web that they expect for a phone conversation.”

Check out the supporting paper and research prototype here.

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Presto, Chango, Poof It's Gone! It's Vanish!

Spy Sweeper
Image via Wikipedia

So, all thieving aside, what do you do about that on-line information that you actually want to make disappear? Call up the University of Washington and get your hands on their “Vanish” application. Vanish imposes a time limit and self-destruct on any text uploaded to any web service via web browser. What kind of communications?  Electronic communications such as e-mail, Facebook posts and chat messages. More specifically, web-based e-mail such as Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail, Web chat, and text posted on social networking sites MySpace and Facebook. Using Vanish, they will automatically self-destruct by becoming irretrievable from all web sites, inboxes, outboxes, back up sites and home computers, lost even to the original sender.

Because web services archive indefinitely, hitting the delete button alone is not the answer for complete eradication. The implications become staggering as we move towards cloud computing, where everything resides on sites that can be accessed by the clever and quick.

Techwack explains the Vanish process:

The Vanish prototype washes away data using the natural turnover, called “churn,” on large file-sharing systems known as peer-to-peer networks. For each message that it sends, Vanish creates a secret key, which it never reveals to the user, and then encrypts the message with that key. It then divides the key into dozens of pieces and sprinkles those pieces on random computers that belong to worldwide file-sharing networks, the same ones often used to share music or movie files. The file-sharing system constantly changes as computers join or leave the network, meaning that over time parts of the key become permanently inaccessible. Once enough key parts are lost, the original message can no longer be deciphered.

In the current Vanish prototype, the network’s computers purge their memories every eight hours. (An option on Vanish lets users keep their data for any multiple of eight hours.)

No one need act on the data to make Vanish work: its own inherent properties result in the destruction, akin to a message written in the sand washed away by the tide, as suggested in the Techwhack article. The only way to save the information is to physically print it out before the self-destruct sequence enables, or copy and paste it into a word processing document on your computer’s hard drive.

Vanish was released today. You can get it free and open source on the Firefox browser.

How should lawyers view Vanish? The closing quote from researcher Todayashi Kohno says it all:

“Today many people pick up the phone when they want to talk with a lawyer or have a private conversation,” Kohno said. “But more and more communication is happening online. Vanish is designed to give people the same privacy for e-mail and the Web that they expect for a phone conversation.”

Check out the supporting paper and research prototype here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]