My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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Orkut stats

I noticed that Orkut put statistics up. The demographics are fascinating and i’m intrigued to see that 37% of the population is under 25. This means that Orkut has gone into new domains. Mmmm.. yummy.

Of course, i’m less than thrilled to see the member stats. They have it broken down into connectors, celebrities and stars. I wonder how much this motivates different people to connect more, put up sexier pictures, pressure friends to indicate each other as fans, etc. ::sigh::

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8 comments to Orkut stats

  • orkut stats

    Orkut’s put up stats, showing the connectors (people most other people are most closely connected to), the celebrities and the stars. As Danah points out this probably won’t help build community, but it’s interesting seeing who’s listed. Clark, one of…

  • Jon

    Yeah, it seems the orkut developers have a fascination with quantifying and labeling social dynamics. You can rate your friends on coolness, it lists how many “fans” one has, it now defines what a “celebrity” and “star” is. Metrics for labels like that which are personal and idiosynchratic.

    I wonder what their motivation is. They could just be playing around; it could be to attract attention and be unique; they could consider it valuable for creating community; it could be tied into a business model somehow. I consider it just a little weird, myself.

  • Randy

    Money down that there is a very specific reason for making the metrics the way that they are. I look at this in 2 ways. The first is that as they system moves into the middle adapter phase of the business life cycle, more young people will begin to use it. These ‘sexy, cool, fan’ metrics are the words that developers think teenagers use to quantify each other. If this were 1984 the metrics would include ‘rad, excellent, bogus’. The site design oozes of teenage use.

    Second point is that if you can use these metrics to identify trend setters based on what their friends say, you can track those people’s purchasing habits or Google search habits and get the buzz on what is the next hot item, or trend. I just do not buy that these systems are set up for user enjoyment.

  • In some sense, picking up on what Randy said it’s kind of like bringing high school cliques online. In my high school I was on the track and cross country team and was a member of Friends of Frodo the Hobit (read it a dozen times; nothing else to do on Friday nights). So is this ranking a monocultural phenomenon or would it have enabled me to find other people who wanted to talk about what else might have happened around Rivendell at any time of the day? Or would I have just gone to the LOTR boards?

    I guess I mean is there room to quantify social value in more than one way in what Orkut is doing? Is there more than one way to be cool on Orkut?

  • uucee

    Considering the genesis of orkut (Stanford’s inCircle & Club Nexus), the “hot or not” ratings probably stem from the student dating scene.

  • Randy

    oh yea just noticed that every person featured on the front splash page of orkut is white, young, and attractive … just like me!

  • Scott Moore

    Any chart you put on the wall will tend to go up. By making these limited rating publicly available, there is a game-like sense to them. I think that there will be some pressure to connect to more friends and to acquire more ratings, but mainly among a small group. I would be *much* more concerned if everyone’s rank were public. Then the pressure to acquire would pervade many more relations.

    Amy Jo Kim is putting together a little list on game-like elements in social networking software. Orkuts stats came to my mind immediately. It will be interesting to see how many game elements there are across YASNSs.

  • Mel

    From the first moment I was in Orkut it felt like I was in a teen hangout. The rating system especially. I’ve found plenty of intelligent people in there but I’m pretty sure most of them, like me, won’t stick around too much longer. The environment feels like a schoolyard (for all the worst reasons). And I’m no social scientist but there is a very high level of agression, hostility, and meanspiritedness throughout. I visualised it last night as an artificially blue swimming pool that looks very inviting but if you dive deep you find that the bottom is strewn with broken glass…