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Friday, 27 February 2004

Website review

Everybody I hang out with is currently out of town, so I'm going to a review a website on my blog. Orkut.com is Google's forray into the world of Friendster-like communities. These are community-type websites that rely on personal connections. You sign up and then get your friends to sign up and they get their friends to sign up, and it creates networks of these friendship associations. You can use these association to search for people who, for example, like Ayn Rand. You get a list of people and can see how they are connected to you. You are friends with Joe who is friends with Amanda who is friends with Julian, who likes Ayn Rand. You can then click on Julian's profile and look at her picture and find out where she lives and other info about her. For example, Julian might live in a town five miles away, list bondage as a hobby and that she is looking to date people of your gender. You could then send Julian email, ask for an introduction through the parties in between or pretend you never found this connection, depending on what you think of these things.

Orkut seems to offer all these friendster services, with a few more. For instance, orkut has "communities" of their members with similar interests. So you can find anarchists, biodeisel fanatics or whatever. Also, it goes farther in the personal ad aspect of friendster, by asking the same questions as yahoo personals. describe your sense of humor. do you live alone, have roomates or pets? etc. It lets you list a website, which is not supported by yahoo personals. and it's free.

It also will list your job skills, education, skills and resume-like things for potential headhunters. This inappropriate mixture of personal and professional is something that would only come out of silicn valley. does a headhunter really need to be able to find out on the same website that I know java and that I think body piercing is sexy? boundaries! networking for jobs and networking for dates are different animals! engineers should not be allowed to design these services because of their tendency to not have lives outside of work.

Also, what website do i list? my blog? my personal site? my professional site? i'm confused about the mission that i'm supposed to be trying to accomplish. also, it asks for a lot of information for a personal ad. More than I would normally post. But You can set levels of privacy for information and of course, it relies on these friendship networks, so theoretically, the people seeing it are somewhat trusted. Unless people cheat the system. In my friendster network, I've found Yale (who knew?), a few college radio stations, a Chinese restaurant, and the other day, Screetch from Saved by the Bell popped up. Who knew I was so few degrees of seperation from fictional celebrities?

Some nice things about the Orkut service is that you can tell it your many email addresses, so if people invite you to be their friend at any one of your ten email addresses you've used over the last few years, it will find you. And when I signed up, it remembered invitations that I must have received months ago and ignored, so I had connections waiting for me.

This service lists "affiliated with Google" on the bottom of every page. Will Google take over the friendship market? Is mixing networking goals innapropriate or very powerful? Is this product brilliant or too weird? I dunno. If you want to join and/or add me as a friend, just type in any email address that you normally use to reach me.

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