As i write this, it’s down again. But that doesn’t mean that i haven’t been thinking about it. And dear god, everyone and their mother has written about it. At the bottom of this rant, i’ve included some of the ones that have been making me think (and i’ve been reading a *lot*).
OK… so my take on Orkut.
1) What the hell is up with the elitist approach to invitation? That’s just outright insulting and an attempt to pre-configure the masses through what the technorati are doing. Social networks are not just a product of technologists. Everyone has a social network and what they do with it is quite diverse. To demand that they behave by the norms of technologists is horrifying.
2) Are trustworthy, cool, and sexy the only ways that i might classify my friends? (Even Orkut lists a lot more in his definition of self.) And since when can i rate the people that i know based on this kind of metric?
And goddamnit CONTEXT CONTEXT CONTEXT. Cool as a techy? Cool as a party kid? Trustworthy along what fucking axes?
3) Explain to me why one must be a friend to be a fan of someone? The role of fan is inherently a power differential, not an equalizer. (Don’t get me wrong: on Orkut, there’s definitely pressure to reciprocate.) The people that i’m a fan of are not my friends; they’re idols; they’re people that i read on the interweb but do not know.
It is sooo weird to read which of my friends are a fan of me. Does that mean that the rest are only following social custom in linking to me? Does that mean that they don’t really respect me? [Or does it mean, like it means to me, that it’s too bloody weird to consider checking off that fan bit?]
And worse… i can see who is a fan of others. This means that i can check on my friends and figure out that they’re using the fan feature… just not on me. Hello, socially awkward.
4) What’s up with the popular crowd hierarchy both in visual and Friends/Communities listing? Have we not learned that this motivates bad behavior?
5) Hell, haven’t we learned ANYTHING? We still have articulation. But worse, now that everyone is paying attention to this, the network isn’t growing naturally. You jump on. Fast. And connect to everyone you recognize. WTF? And what the hell are you supposed to DO once you get on the damn thing?
6) And boy is it irritating that everything is broken. I know it’s an alpha, but it’s too popular to withstand the interest. Can’t change picture on certain parts. Can’t delete account. Can’t get rid of picture. And what’s up with the regular crashes?
7) And then there are the Terms that show contempt for academics. There’s a blanket ban on robots, collecting information, reverse engineering, and other “unauthorized” use (hello, fair use). You can’t even link from the damn thing (i.e. i can’t identify myself outside of the constraints of Orkut… like on my own site or identifying a research project in which i’d like people to participate. Thus, i can’t use a social networking tool to fucking social network). Of course, there’s not much appreciation for anyone else either. THEY OWN EVERYTHING YOU POST!!! You CAN’T OPT OUT! Complete registration only.
And don’t worry… they can modify the ToS without any notice.
I’m sure more rants are to follow. But in the meantime, tell me why i’m wrong. Cause i’m cranky and disappointed. Everyone’s all excited because it’s Google. But i feel like i just met Jar Jar.
Boris – traffic stat comparisons of Orkut vs. other sites
Anne on why she deleted her account. [Also, i want to read the link to the failure of social networks, but they’ve reached their bandwidth limit. Stupid fucking ISP.]
Jill on the patchwork view of one’s network
Jay on a fantastic metaphor, paralleling Orkut with a hotel lobby or cruise ship
Foe Romeo on a social network ideal
Anti-Mega on why Orkut lacks innovation
David on the politics of the ToS wrt ownership of identity
Marc Canter on being banned from Orkut
Wired on Social Nets Not Making Friends
Liz – an Orkut analysis
Ross on why Orkut doesn’t work for him
Weinberger on the problems with the expectation to increase nodes
Clay on the Orkut craze
Dina on her blog as her social network (and why Orkut)
Update: additional references
Jeremy on why Google needs Orkut
Lee – another good rant on Orkut
Mary on building a social network site in 24 hours… on privacy… and on collecting baseball cards
Halley on Orkut invitation frustration