Random Musings
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Google spawns social networking service | CNET News.com: "Google tip-toed into the hot market of online social networks with the quiet launch of Orkut.com on Thursday, CNET News.com has learned.
The search company, which is expected to go public this year, is flexing its power with its Internet fans by constantly offering new services, including comparison shopping and news search. Orkut could be the clearest signal that Google's aspirations don't end with search.
'Orkut is an online trusted community Web site designed for friends. The main goal of our service is to make the social life of yourself and your friends more active and stimulating,' according to the Web site, which states that the service is 'in affiliation with Google.'"

These social networks are an interesting idea, but I'm a little wary of any service that wants me to give them a list of my friends and family. It's sort of like dragging your friend to a party full of people without telling them first. It will remain to be seen how Orkut implements their service, of course, but I would want to be very careful to get the consent of my friends first.

Unfortunately Orkut, perhaps because it's still in the very early stages, is a "by invitation only" community - which means that you have to wait for somebody you know to invite you to join. I was hoping to check it out to get a better feel for their implementation.

The other thing with social networks is that too many of us forget that we're already members of a social network. It's called "our neighborhood." One of the signs that you're too addicted to the Internet is that you spend 3 hours a week chatting with your friend in South Africa but haven't said hello to your next door neighbor in 6 months.

I suppose the argument could be made that geographical neighbors are not friends of choice as much as friends of chance -- you can't usually pick and choose who is going to live next door to you and maybe they don't have common interests. Maybe they're not even nice people. I worry sometimes, however, that we're neglecting the people who are proximate in our lives, in favor of people who may even be anonymous across the expanse of the Internet.

Suggestion: One day a year organize a block party of your neighbors. A BBQ, pool party, game of cards or croquet. Maybe for the Super Bowl or New Year's Eve. Or just because it's Thursday. One day a year, invite them all to come together and meet each other. Some of them may turn out to be pretty nice folks.

And you'll have something new to tell your friend in South Africa.


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