Peter Propp and I got together recently to chat about Google's emerging social media initiatives and how they relate to the broadening use of profiles and comment-embedding services by social media services like Facebook and LinkedIn. Video below, followed by some quick comments:
In a nutshell, we're seeing in the likes of Google's new Profiles and Discussions features the beginnings of the outlines of Google's emerging social media strategy. It's one in which Profiles is likely to become a social media hub for Google account-holders similar to people's Facebook pages, integrating content from other Google properties as well as links to non-Google content. The Profiles pages also have expanded information for personal and professional details, making it more of a hybrid between data available in Facebook and LinkedIn. Google allows this information to be exported easily by profile owners, so you have more "ownership" over it than you might in some other services.
Meanwhile, in Google Docs there's a new Discussions feature that seems destined to replace commenting in Google Buzz and, probably, other sites like Blogger blogs and perhaps even on non-Google Web sites. I am thinking that the non-Google integration of Discussions might be of two flavors, either floating above a page of Web content, a la its relatively primitive Sidewiki feature, with links to underlying content, and as an embeddable comments system, a la Disqus. There is close integration of Profiles and Discussions already, and hints of a groups management system that may correlate to rumors about a Google Circles feature. More thoughts and details on my Content Nation blog.