Engineers and space scientists, not necessarily in that order, have made by far the most voluminous contributions to civilization in the last century. While the latter have opened up new universal frontiers and discovered new evidence of infinity that cannot ever, by definition, be fully understood, the former now all work for Google and are always coming up with new products that have no definition. I tip my hat to both for being ahead of the curve. (Truth be told, I’m not exactly clear about the meaning of this expression, but I’ve heard good things about “the curve,” mainly from engineers, and get the distinct impression that it is a good thing to be ahead of.) Which is all by way of introduction. The subject of this article is Google Buzz.
There has been much debate, or rather, I have stirred some of it up on occasion, regarding the relative merits of the arts versus those of the sciences. Perhaps this dates back to my undergraduate days and the title of an academic institution that would take no one side over the other. While this may have been an economic decision to hedge bets, I think the truth is that both arts and sciences indeed have an important purpose. The sciences serve to discover, or invent, while the arts serve to package for presentation. Some of the greatest scientific minds in history – from Aristotle to DaVinci to Einstein, and countless other examples – have also been skilled in the arts, in presentation. This also is by way of introduction, I suppose. The subject of this article remains Google Buzz.
I recommend the demo video by way of further introduction. In roughly 90 seconds’ time, you will be shown, give or take, an infinity of different features and functionalities. For many of you, these will be reminiscent of social media services already in use – which speaks to the scientific background of Buzz, that is to say, the scientific inclination towards discovery (Eureka!) – and for some of you the nice thing about the product is that it brings, literally, everything, together. When I say everything, I mean this in the infinity space science sense of the word: Everything… and in approximately 90 seconds to demonstrate.
For some of us, this is confusing. I say this apologetically, and with all respect, because I can imagine the engineering prowess behind a product that brings, literally, everything, together. And with equal respect and apology towards a company the very name of which signifies a number so large that it approaches infinity, I will say that I am less overwhelmed by the concept of an apple, or a tweet. Simplicity does have its virtue, and the importance of simple presentation cannot be overstated.I am reminded of the now famous Stanford University commencement address by Steve Jobs in 2005, in which a portion of the speech, that part in fact which deals with his own educational background, is dedicated to… fonts!, calligraphy, the spacing between letters, and such seemingly mundane design details that, with hindsight, have made Apple’s suite of products the envy of the sector. I am also reminded, a little bit, of an article I recently read about the reaction of Bill Gates at the introduction of iTunes back in the day: ”We need some plan to prove that even though Jobs has us a bit flat-footed again, we move quick, and both match and do stuff better.”
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