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Orkut - Mushrooms

Orkut launched on Thursday (see CNET) By Saturday morning I had quite a few invites, so I joined up. Is it just another social networking service? Did the implied Google link help? Maybe, but I'm inclined to believe it is more. Here's a taste from Many to Many.

Observation only.... at this stage... If you are a member of Ryze, Friendster, Tribe, Ecademy, Linkedin or one of the many others you should at least take a look at it.

First impressions. This one is really viral. It could just be timing and a little competition to see who could get the most names first. Still I think something deeper here touched a chord. I personally simply found myself wanting to be part of it and began adding names and getting responses almost immediately. That is always rewarding. Clearly many bloggers were on last night. After a couple of hours I started inviting people that I've not invited since Ryze days over a year ago and they began joining too this time.

My suspicion is that Orkut bridges the gap between Ryze (too open) and Linkedin (too closed) without the "everything is for sale" on Tribe. I suspect that those with "Friendster" experience also see it as providing extra functionality. Not all the connections are set up for the instant deal. Most of mine remain blogger and 'online" related. It's user interface is simple and it is quickly giving me the key data that I need to use it as an address book and birthday book etc. I failed to add my Zonkboard to it, thinking that would be neat. Look at Orkut vs Ryze or Ecademy and it's utility as a potential address book is obvious. It's only one click away from my network or my friends page. If I could just export it easily that would be cool!

The downside? I still don't believe that this system is better than more decentralized peer to peer solutions. Similarly, there is no "presence" indicator. We were all on last night, the numbers and connections just dialing up. However that sharing was all outside Orkut via some IM system or another. IM systems, Skype like, or Humintiy style are much more likely to connect us. Until these things link with voice and text systems they are toys. Of course Google already has every telephone number in it. So Orkut could put Google into the "connect" anywhere business.

Separately, not everyone is comfortable with the informal connecting and experimentation in these networks. Who are my friends and how do they qualify remains a key issue. Both Ton Zijlstra and Martin Roell comment on the importance of face to face as a sort of credentialing aspect. I'm going to say I find this quite quaint but not the way business or connections are done anymore. It's not to belittle face to face. It would be great to meet both these guy's in a bar and buy them a drink. Lilia picks up on posts here and her Dec 21 post provides a different perspective. I think phone, Skype, lots of blogs, exchanges of work and personal referrals in person from others provides real insight.

So I thought I'd add a couple of notes on why I'm comfortable adding a person to my friends that I may not have met personally face to face.

  • I believe in all cases I already know someone that knows this person face to face. Perhaps that is just relationship triangulation . I'm also willing to bet that person knows one or two that know me the same way. This may be a weak tie, it is also more likely to result in an interesting connection or a new relationship. If I just want tried and true or a reputation system I'd hope that Xpertweb gets working. It's also a little more than that.

  • Adding as a friend in the context of above means I'm happy to find ways to extend further the relationship. Should someone else in my network want to use me to connect to that person and I'm unsure as whether to go direct then I will simply go to the person closest to me that can answer that question more effectively. I don't mind using some social capital in that way. Frankly that eliminates the stiffness that exists in LinkedIn. It is judgement not a computer that that builds relationships. Help where you can.
  • I've had little time to experiment with the community functions. They were generating very rapidly. I've not seen any numbers for Orkut. However, I'm pretty sure it is already larger than Ryze. I had 7000+ connections last night. If all my invites confirm my direct network on Orkut will be more than twice the size of Ryze and 4 times the size of LinkedIn for just over two hours online. Tribe doesn't really feature in this. I wonder how many others have had the same experience?

    A few "beta" problems have cropped up. As a result Orkut is currently offline.

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    Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Orkut - Mushrooms:

    » Orkut - First look from REORIENT
    Orkut lauched on Thursday, when I get this news, I come to the site asap but can't be in -- it's a invite only site. Then begin to search people who can help me in through linkedin, fortunatly, before I... [Read More]

    » It was fun while it lasted from www.gadgetguy.de
    Orkut is down for maintenance: We've taken orkut.com offline as we implement some improvements and upgrades suggested by users. Since orkut is in the very early stages of development, it's likely to be up and down quite a bit during the coming months. ... [Read More]

    » Why Orkut down? from REORIENT
    Orkut was down. Fortunately, I was invited several hours before it went offline. Thanks, stuart! There are quite a lot comments on why Orkut was down. Just read Many2Many, and Ross blogged "Why Orkut doesn't work". I am quite agree... [Read More]

    » The flight of the Orkut from Headshift
    The first flight of the Orkut was brief, but generated a lot of interest. What does this tell us about the state of online social networking today? [Read More]

    » Orkut - Why ? from Conversations with Dina
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    » Orkut vs. other social networks from Online Business Networking Blog
    Stuart Henshall comments on Orkut's rapid growth compared to other social networks: Orkut bridges the gap between Ryze (too open) and Linkedin (too closed) without the "everything is for sale" on Tribe. I suspect that those with "Friendste... [Read More]

    Comments (4)

    I think phone, Skype, lots of blogs, exchanges of work and personal referrals in person from others provides real insight

    I agree with you Stuart. I think the point Martin and I were making had more to do with the difference between finding out what the intensity of a connection is, and finding out what the content is. So do you harvest "I am in contact with this guy 3 times a week" or "Interested in football" It of course in the end should probably do both. But my first wish would be to have a sense of the mutual strength of connections. Including "know of" "on my radar" etc. for weak ties.

    Face to face is just one such an indicator, and in an on-line world indeed becoming quaint fast. When I added (f) to my blogroll yesterday I thought shouldn't I put (v) for voice communications there as well for you and others? And what about (t) for text communications. And in the end I think I could rate on-line video communications as face to face as well, after getting used to it as a normal means of communication.

    Nevertheless I do think direct face to face meetings are hard to beat in their intensity and information richness. So that's why I make efforts to take every opportunity to meet face to face with people I met on-line.

    I've just completed the install of the Bayesian Spam Filter and trust I have now updated my templates appropriately. Had another 70 odd spam comments tonight. I've been training the system. If anyone has any problems please e-mail me. I hope I didn't delete any comments here.

    Just a quick update on one item. Ryze has several privacy levels that give you a bunch of control over who can contact you and view your page. We added these in the last few months.

    Early Ryze members will still have the Low privacy setting from the beginning days if they haven't changed it. Newer members generally have the Medium setting by default (for people who were invited to Ryze).

    Medium is people within 4 friends and Networks you specify, and High is within 2 friends and Networks you specify. Welcome any feedback on that, wasn't sure if you were familiar with it. Thanks. ( the settings are at http://www.ryze.com/preferencesprivacy.php )

    Someone like to invite me to Orkut please? :)
    Biff

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