The internets have been 'buzzing' (sorry) this week with talk about Google's latest product, Buzz. I seemed to get it straight away as it doesn't require invitations as Wave still does. It appears as an extra folder in Gmail. There you can post status messages that can include links and images. You can 'connect' various types of sites that you have in your Google Profile and then updates on those will also appear in your stream. People can then comment on them there and you can follow those people to see their updates.
As many people have been saying this is very like FriendFeed. That does almost exactly what I describe above, but has a few more features. You can opt out of certain parts of a person's feed, e.g. if you don't want to see their Youtube favourites. You can also create a 'virtual friend' in case someone you know doesn't join FriendFeed, but you still want to aggregate their various feeds. Plus you can create a group based around a set of people and allow others to subscribe to that group. FriendFeed does some removal of duplicates so you don't have to see when someone posts the same item to multiple sites.
I've used FriendFeed for a while and like it, but not many friends have joined. I can still use it to keep up with things and have it as a gadget on my iGoogle page. Facebook bought the site recently, but I've not seen any signs of integration yet.
Facebook is still the big player and is reaching a much wider audience than anything else. Smiles were raised at the ignorance of some Facebook users when they ended up on the wrong site and couldn't log in. Facebook aims to be usable by anyone and wants to be a safe walled garden for them so they don't have to go anywhere else. Features like Pages act like RSS so users can get all their news without leaving the garden. I use some of these features, but stay away from all the silly games and useless applications. I think Facebook lowers the barriers for non-technical people to build communities.
A common meme amongst all of the above is the Like button so show you enjoyed an item, whatever that may mean. I don't see a Dislike button. You can also comment using all of them, but some people, including my friend Wulf don't like the way this divides the comments across multiple sites. I'd also prefer comments on my blog posts to be on my site. Maybe we need a standard that allows comments on aggregating sites to feed back to the original post. Part of the reason I started using Disqus comments was to get more control over my comments and to track those I make on other sites, but it's not that widely used.
I'm reserving judgement on Buzz for now as it's very early days. I do like Google products and use a lot of them. If they can get the integration right and satisfy the various demands for privacy then it has potential. I don't know if this means that Wave is being dropped as it doesn't seem to have evolved much since the launch.