orkut-network.jpgThe main thing about orkut.com that’s different from other social networking services is the network view it gives you of people’s friends. They’re arranged according to how many other Orkut users count them as their friends. If a user has a lot of friends, only the ones who have most friends themselves show up in the network view – the most popular in the middle of the patchwork friendship quilt. The strength of social ties is not visualised at all.

I’ve never met the people in the centre of my Orkut network, though I’ve communicated with them, I like them, and I expect I’ll hang out with them when I’m at a conference they’re at or in the same town as them. Luckily my network’s small enough that the people I care most about are still visible, albeit on the outskirts. In my standard profile view, though, there’s only room for nine friends. Out of these nine, I’ve only physically met two, and while I liked them both a lot, and I look forward to seeing them again, I’ve actually only met them once. My closest friends and collaborators, people far more important to me, are already invisible.

I suppose any representation of reality will have some blind spots. This one seems fairly severe.

6 thoughts on “patchwork

  1. Anders

    I see one of Orkuts severe limitations being the lack of categorization of relations (acquaintance, friend, colleague, family, “have met in real life” etc…)… Maybe it will come…

  2. vika

    Mmm, it is a bit strange to have the “popular kids” at the top. It’s also strange to be a popular kid, sometimes.

  3. Jill

    Wired has an article on Social Nets Not Making Friends, and The Social Software Weblog has interesting posts on all this.

  4. Rorschach

    I had hopes for Orkut as it is by invitation only. Heh. Smart lad, eh? It seems that invitations can be purchased by anyone with cash.

    Wow. How special people must feel. “Yeah, the center of my network is some guy selling invitations on eBay.”

    On the other hand that might not be a bad thing; the person does know how to exploit their position to their gain …

  5. apophenia

    venting my contempt for orkut
    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 …

  6. OnePotMeal

    There’s been a lot of talk about Orkut lately: what works, and what doesn’t; who can get in, and who can’t; whether ‘friend’, ‘cool’, and ‘hot’ are enough to capture all the nuances of the modern relationship. But we here…

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