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Google Social Network: Orkut 623

shelleymonster writes "According to CNET, Google has quietly released its own version of Friendster, called Orkut. About 3 months ago, Google entered into talks to acquire Friendster, but was turned down. Named after one of its engineers, Orkut Buyukkokten, the new social network looks even tougher to get into than Friendster. An initial 12,000 invitations were sent out, and new users can only join through an existing user. Someone want to invite me?"
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Google Social Network: Orkut

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  • by inertia@yahoo.com ( 156602 ) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:48PM (#8068718) Homepage Journal
    To get invited, just go to a Dave Matthews concert...duh!
  • Friendster? (Score:5, Funny)

    by cspenn ( 689387 ) <financialaidpodc ... m minus math_god> on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:48PM (#8068722) Homepage Journal
    Friendster was hard to get into because of all those JSP errors. Orkut is by invitation only. Slight difference.
  • Friendless (Score:5, Funny)

    by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:49PM (#8068734) Homepage
    So those of us who no one likes will never be let to join? And I thought my life was bad now! First I'm kept out of all of the real world social places... not the online ones too? Could it get any worse?

    Yes, the above is sarcasm!
  • Orkut? (Score:5, Funny)

    by konichiwa ( 216809 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:49PM (#8068737)
    Named after one of its engineers, Orkut Buyukkokten

    They should have named it Buyukkokten! :(
  • by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:49PM (#8068740) Journal
    Friendster has such momentum even though it is so buggy and slow. Can anyone explain why it is so popular?

    PS: They also just added Google ads. Ironic.
  • WOO HOO! (Score:5, Funny)

    by NDPTAL85 ( 260093 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:50PM (#8068742)
    Alright! Now thru the golden graces of Google, they've amassed all the collective might of the PhD's they employ to re-create the negative social effects of high school cliques and elitism!

    • Re:WOO HOO! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You're 100% right. I'm posting anonymously because of my Stanford ties, but this is precisely what (and who) Orkut is. There was a demo version built while he was at Stanford, and it was just a clique competition... you even got ranked (similar to PageRank) by the number of "important friends" you had. It's truly repugnant.
  • /. Fan (Score:5, Funny)

    by sleepingsquirrel ( 587025 ) * <Greg,Buchholz&sleepingsquirrel,org> on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:50PM (#8068745) Homepage Journal
    Orkut? They'll have to do quite a bit of work to give their members the prestige that's associated with having a Slashdot fan.
  • by PFactor ( 135319 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:50PM (#8068746) Journal
    An invitation-only society will always become cannabalistic and/or inbred.

    I don't want to be invited into that!
  • Branching (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:51PM (#8068763)
    It'd be interesting to see how the contacts branch from the original 12,000 people.

    You could see how they branch, what countries they cross into, and how people relate to each other (interests, age, etc.)

    I wonder if this'd be something sociologists would like to watch...?
    • Unfortunately, they picked 12,000 people from Texas, northern Quebec, and New Zealand.

      The predicted branch out is about 5 people.
    • JESUS! Are you with Mensa also?
    • Re:Branching (Score:3, Insightful)

      by camusflage ( 65105 )
      I wonder if this'd be something sociologists would like to watch...?

      Or the Department of Homeland Security...
    • by telstar ( 236404 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:30PM (#8069232)
      All they really had to do was invite Kevin Bacon, and we'd be all set....
    • Re:Branching (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rmarll ( 161697 )
      I wonder if this'd be something sociologists would like to watch...?

      Though, you are seeing only those people entering the network who are
      A. Thought of as at least potentially interested in joining.
      B. Wouldn't think less of you for asking.

      I would like to know what sociologists think of these kinds of groups, and what purpose they serve.
    • The point (Score:3, Insightful)

      You could see how they branch, what countries they cross into, and how people relate to each other (interests, age, etc.)

      I would go so far as to say that's the whole point. They're probably doing this to analyze statistically how such networking takes place. This would be useful as a model for many things, and I'm sure marketers would be interested if no one else.

      Information transfer theory is cool, and no one has the possibility to study it like Google does.

    • Buddyzoo does this (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Patik ( 584959 ) *
      Buddyzoo [buddyzoo.com] already does something like this. You upload your AIM buddy list and it draws connections between people by seeing who has who on their list. It rates your popularity based on how many people have you on their list and makes note of cliques (when a group of people all have each other on their list). It even generates a nice SVG diagram to show how the people on your list are linked with each other.
  • googoogaga (Score:4, Funny)

    by jimmi_bob ( 744320 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:51PM (#8068773)
    google continue their world domination attempts, next thing you know we'll have google linux, google word pro, and google tunes (gTunes?) ... they'll release it all in a single package and call it googogogol
  • by pcraven ( 191172 ) <paul@cCOLAravenfamily.com minus caffeine> on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:51PM (#8068776) Homepage
    ...created Orkut.com in the past several months by working on it about one day a week--an amount that Google asks all of its engineers to devote to personal projects

    Ok, that is a cool company. I wish I was working at Google. But they haven't opened a software development office in Iowa yet.
  • Someone want to invite me?

    Sounds like living in the Hamptons.

  • Quite obnoxious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lysium ( 644252 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:52PM (#8068788)
    What a nice, elitist piece of software. Please, how can I become part of this exclusive tribe? I would check the site, except it seems to completely lack details, other than the fact that no one is allowed to join.

    Why, exactly, is this on Slashdot?


    • Why, exactly, is this on Slashdot?

      Because for the zillions of geeks here who couldn't care less about a "No Outsiders Allowed" club, it will be a pleasure watching their servers melt down under a good /.ing...
    • Re:Quite obnoxious (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rmarll ( 161697 )
      Especially in that "exclusive" here just doesn't mean much.
      Certainly this isn't about keeping people out, more a mechanism to get people to want to be in. There isn't any meaningful criteria to be met in order to get in.

      The phrase "I belong to Orkut." is about the same as... I'm a nerdy computer geek in search of validation.

      While exclusivity does have it's place for certain things (rock climbing afficinados for instance) exclusivity for the sake of exclusivity serves as more of a warning for the rest of
  • by TiMac ( 621390 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:54PM (#8068817)
    By rejecting those that click the "Join" button. Why even have a Join button then?

    Frankly, I think they can go screw themselves....I won't hunt down a way to get into "the clique" and may not even if a friend invites me.

  • baaaa (Score:5, Insightful)

    by happyfrogcow ( 708359 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:54PM (#8068826)
    yet another way for people to make themselves feel popular and socially accepted while being a commodity for someone else.

    get over yourselves and do something useful.
  • Invite yourself? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:54PM (#8068828) Homepage Journal

    It seems to me, that once you've been invited, you can "invite" your web-driven robot, which can offer a backdoor for many other random people you don't know.

    It's like saying you can't get into a brick-and-mortar "gated community." Unless you're a pizza delivery guy. Or any of his friends.

  • oo, shiny web site (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AEton ( 654737 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:54PM (#8068831)
    1) Wow, it's even more cliquey than C2! [community2.com] Well, almost.
    2) The Orkut website is really pretty.
    This is typical for Google. How do they get the text to fade in on page load? It's really neat. Look at the TOS [orkut.com] page for an example - you see the pink/purple orkut.com's for a while, and then the rest of the text fades in. Is this just a simple CSS thing I should know but don't because I'm stupid?
    3) Check out the "golden key" icon (at their privacy policy). It's amazing! lol
  • They (friendster) really could _really_ use the horse power google has. It can be _very slow_ sometimes and I constanly get messages that my network cannot be traced from me to someone in my network. Hmmmm. I really like Friendster but Orkut may have the backend power to make social networking a more friendly experience.
  • by Cytlid ( 95255 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:55PM (#8068845)
    Does the fact that I don't need this service mean I have a life?
  • by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:55PM (#8068848) Homepage Journal
    ... but while "invitation only" to begin with, doesn't necessarily ensure the quality of the network in the future. All of us have some "good" friends, as well as "bad" friends. The people with more questionable ethics could even go as far as auctioning an invitiation on ebay or something similar.

    All forms of socialization over the internet seem to start out with loads of potential, but in the end, they all suffer from the scum that tends to surface.
  • by netwiz ( 33291 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:58PM (#8068866) Homepage
    It seems to me that Google could very well be sitting on a large pool of cash that might make it worth some corporate raiders' time to finance a huge takeover and pay for it out of that pool of money. If Google purposely diversifies their operation to initiatives that might not ever turn a profit, they can reduce that pool prior to IPO. Might not be the brightest choice right out of the box, but given that their price is sure to reduce over two-three quarters post-IPO, it'll reduce their attractiveness to a takeover attempt.

    Of course, being private at this time, none of this has any basis in fact. Although, the fact that Google's probably going to spend $25mil on this suggests that they really do have stupid piles of cash, and can afford to potentially toss big chunks of it away on potential failures.
  • ...where the word "orkut" is the colloquial plural of "orgasm".

    The potential is huge. Eventually both Finns currently reading slashdot will join, and will be largely disappointed.

  • by msimm ( 580077 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:58PM (#8068871) Homepage
    about these things. I met my best friend, my wife and my rabbi on friendster. I'm not even jewish!

    ;-) Sorry.
  • Catch 22 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScottSpeaks! ( 707844 ) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:59PM (#8068877) Homepage Journal
    If I actually had any friends, I wouldn't need a "social networking service".
    • Not true.

      I had one friend on Friendster...he's a real kind of savvy guy who's totally well adjusted. Joining via him added a bunch of new contacts, some of whom I got on very well with.

      So, I join friendster with one friend, and suddenly I have ten more. I introduced a few others to my wife, who used to complain about not being able to meet people.

      Friendster is just another way to meet people you might like. It's like a digital party, only you don't have to clean vomit off your couch.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:02PM (#8068908)
    This doesn't seem as big news as it could be. It's not a major project of Google, but something one of the engineers built during company time when instructed to work on a personal project. It's not branded "Google Friends" afterall.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:03PM (#8068928)
    Just kidding! :-P

  • So far, there's nothing on eBay [ebay.com]. There's bound to be a sycophant out there willing to pay to join this thing.
  • by joonasl ( 527630 ) <.joonas.lyytinen. .at. .iki.fi.> on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:03PM (#8068934) Homepage
    In finnish, the word "orkut" is the plural form of the slang word for orgasm. Gives a completely new meaning for the idea of "Orkut is an online community that connects people through a network of trusted friends."
  • I wouldn't want to be member of any network that would have me, anyway.

  • Join Orkut (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Finuvir ( 596566 ) <rparle@nOSPAm.soylentred.net> on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:08PM (#8068992) Homepage
    I love the numerous links imploring me to 'Join Orkut', only to bring up a page saying " Membership to orkut is by invitation only." It's like yelling from your doorway to 'come on in', only to ask for a ticket at the door.
  • Riiiight... (Score:5, Funny)

    by anactofgod ( 68756 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:08PM (#8068999)
    Google put up a network to compete w/ Friendster.

    Twelve thousand initial invitations went out to join.

    Only members can invite new members.

    This is the BEST vaporware campaign EVER!

  • by clckwrkMalChick ( 592449 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:09PM (#8069003)
    I feel like the fat kid who always got picked last for dodgeball. Wait, I am the fat kid that always got picked last for dodgeball. Somehow this hurts slightly more.
  • First thing this reminded me of was the Simpsons' episode where Homer became a member of the Stonecutters ...

    Who controls the British crown?
    Who keeps the metric system down?
    We do! We do!
    Who leaves Atlantis off the maps?
    Who keeps the martians under wraps?
    We do! We do!
    Who holds back the electric car?
    Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star?
    We do! We do!
    Who robs the cave fish of their sight?
    Who rigs every Oscars night?
    We do! We do!

    Yeah. I really want to be part of Orkut. Please, someone invite me.

  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:11PM (#8069035)
    2400 W El Camino Real, Apt 419
    MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA 94040-1680

    Domain Name: ORKUT.COM

    Administrative Contact:
    BUYUKKOKTEN, ORKUT (OBD36) orkut@cs.stanford.edu
    2400 W El Camino Real, Apt 419
    MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA 94040-1680
    650 888 5822 fax: 123 123 1234

    Technical Contact:
    Network Solutions, Inc. (HOST-ORG) customerservice@networksolutions.com
    13200 Woodland Park Drive
    Herndon, VA 20171-3025
    1-888-642-9675 fax: 571-434-4620

    Record expires on 08-Dec-2006.
    Record created on 08-Dec-2002.
    Database last updated on 23-Jan-2004 15:09:01 EST.

    Domain servers in listed order:

  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:11PM (#8069037)
    A social network's attempts at exclusivity would seem to be at odds with scalability. Once the network exceeds some threshold then it is bound to contain mutually distrusted people connected by chain of trust. The problem is that trust is not fully transitive -- it is not true that if A trusts B and B trusts C, then A trusts C.

    A more scalable approach would allow open enrollment and self-organizing clusters. Each joiner would become trusted within one or more loosely defined clusters of BOFs, while remaining untrusted or disliked by other BOFs. At a higher level, BOFs could even assign trust to other BOFs, with members partially inheriting the relative trust levels of the BOF(s) they belong to.

    Membership-by-invitation creates an unfortunate hurdle to creating truely globe-spanning networks because it means you have to know someone to be permitted to know someone. Although intended to weed out the riff-raff, invitation-only policies probably do more to create obstacles for legitimate, but previously socially unconnected, potential members. A better post-joining filtration/sortation/cluster would let everyone find their respective community(s).

    A truely scalable social network would admit and support gun-toting republicans, and enviro-liberal democrats, and Microsoft apologists, and Apple fanboys. A set of trust distance functions would ensure that each member stays within their respective BOF clusters.
  • by theCat ( 36907 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:13PM (#8069052) Journal
    Mobster: you must be a member of a gang or Mafia. To get in, you need to have a rap sheet with at least 20 entries. First 12,000 invites went to email addresses in Federal prisons.

    Witchster: you must be an initiate into witchcraft. To get in you need to have posted at least one spell of your own creation, with details on the underlying operation principles. First 12,000 invites went to the High Priest/Priestesses of covens registered as nonprofits.

    Govster: you must be a politician who is, or recently was, running for any public office in the United States of America. To get in you must have a public web site that contains the slogan "Vote for America! Vote for me!". First 12,000 invites went to the list of people who ran for Governor of California in the latest state election.
  • by The I Shing ( 700142 ) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:25PM (#8069170) Journal
    It's the Eric Cartman business model... we've built this really great thing and YOU CAN'T USE IT!

    People will be clamoring to try and get access to this thing only because they're being told they can't have it.

    What a great country!
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:32PM (#8069254)
    I'm surprised that Google doesn't create more plays on its own name for various functions. Besides the Froogle shopping site that could have:

    Whoogle -- social networks
    Oogle -- porn
    Doogle -- jobs
    Zoogle -- info on animals
    Choogle -- food, recipes, and restaurants
  • Club Nexis (Score:4, Informative)

    by darksmurf ( 190761 ) <smurf@liquidaffinity.com> on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:32PM (#8069255) Homepage
    Orkut Buyukkokten has done this before [stanford.edu].
  • by jdunlevy ( 187745 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:34PM (#8069276) Homepage

    Seems like a lot of addresses. How were they gathered?

    Doesn't look like orkut.com had [archive.org] a sign-up period or anything...

    Doesn't look like it was sent to Google-Friends Newsletter [google.com] (not in the archive [google.com]; plus RTFA, in which says "Google spokeswoman Eileen Rodriquez said that despite Orkut's affiliation, the service is not part of Google's product portfolio at this time.")

  • by al!ethel ( 713058 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:37PM (#8069301) Homepage Journal
    The only question I have is, how are you supposed to "meet new people" or "expand your social structure" if all you are doing is inviting all the people you already know. From what I have seen, most people have a fairly static social circle, and there is not much movement between them.
  • The TOS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by b.thompson ( 542104 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:48PM (#8069434)
    Take a look at their TOS before posting anything of any importance to you.

    orkut.com's proprietary rights
    By submitting, posting or displaying any Materials on or through the orkut.com service, you automatically grant to us a worldwide, non-exclusive, sublicenseable, transferable, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right to copy, distribute, create derivative works of, publicly perform and display such Materials

    Emphasis added by me.
  • deja vu (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @05:09PM (#8069680)
    I think there is only a finite number of people interested in social networking sites like Orkut, Friendster, Tribe, etc.

    Given the proven theory of 6 degrees of separation, it shouldnt take very long for all possible connections to be made before the growth reaches a plateau.

    Eventually, everyone on each social network will want to have the most connections and will also get an account at all the other social networks.

    I've seen this happen in online dating websites that offer "free" accounts.

    I've browsed all the online websites that have a sizeable number of people in my city, and 90% of all the women with a free account are the same women across all those sites.
  • Slashster (Score:5, Informative)

    by DarkHelmet ( 120004 ) <`ten.elcychtneves' `ta' `kram'> on Friday January 23, 2004 @05:14PM (#8069737) Homepage

    Okay everyone, shameless plug time.

    I am currently creating a PHP version of friendster which I call Slashster [slashster.com]. (Yes, this is inspired from Slashdot and Friendster).

    I figured that a PHP/mysql implementation would be interesting, and I'm rather curious to see how this thing can end up scaling, and if it can do it well.

    I was thinking of launching this on Monday, but this slashdot story was too relevant for me to wait on it, and get some of the press on it.

    Right now, its layout is nearly identical to friendster, but will change once I actually get someone with design skill to help me redo it.

    There are a couple primary differences between slashster and friendster so far:

    • Slashster has a messageboard. You can only see threads / post from people two degrees of separation or less from you (You, your friends, their friends). Friendster kind of had a "post-it" system on their site, which didn't have any sort of interaction on it. This aims to be a little better.
    • News feeds. I'm still working on getting the XML parser working better, but I have a couple news feeds on the "main page" which are pretty much customizable.
    • Moderation: Right now, people who submit new threads to the messageboard have control on moderating people up / down on those posts. The way I figure, people who want to talk about one thing will have their own corner. People who want to be irrelevant and stupid will have another corner.
    • Karma. Your karma is (roughly) the sum of your moderations (slashdot style) divided by the number of days you've been on the site. This way, it'll encourage people to be there on a daily basis and contribute. Also, the amount of space you get for uploading pictures depends on your karma.
    • Referrals: You end up getting more picture space for the Karma of your friends. Hopefully this will encourage people to invite others who participate, and not those who do nothing.

    I'm very interested in getting input on the place. I'm still doing bugfixes on the site, as I said before, so people visiting might get the occasional parse error or two while I'm updating things.

    Still, I'm looking forward to any feedback (positive and negative) on this place. I'm really hoping this post gets modded up, simply so that more people will check it out.

    You can email me at the address listed with this user account [mailto]. Thanks everyone.


  • by ghostis ( 165022 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @05:56PM (#8070245) Homepage
    ...of smaller social experiment done at Standford with a network called Club Nexus. Orkut was an architect of that experiment. Now he operates on the grand scale of the entire internet. Orkut.com will be able to read clustering, small world effect, and weak tie strength in the global internet society.

    http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue8_6/adamic /
  • by Quixote ( 154172 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:03PM (#8070325) Homepage Journal
    To see if someone you know has an Orkut account, head on over to their "forgot password" page here [orkut.com], enter their email address, and hit submit.

    If it responds with "invalid e-mail address", then you struck out; if not, score!

    Now, next thing to do is to automate this [cpan.org] with your mailbox, and then see which of your "friends" didn't invite you!

  • by x31forest ( 130841 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:10PM (#8070399)
    Well well, and I thought google is all for linux. It seems their orkut site is running on a Windows ASP.NET platform. That can be checked easily with http://www.orkut.com/inc which is an invalid page but shows you their menu structure.
  • by nsample ( 261457 ) <<nsample> <at> <stanford.edu>> on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:28PM (#8070599) Homepage
    I had to put on my tinfoil hat for this one, but "Orkut" is really, REALLY old news. The funny thing was, all mention of it has been virtually stripped from Google. "Orkut" is the revival of "Club Nexus", something Orkut built while at Stanford University. You can see a more complete description of Orkut/Club Nexus here [firstmonday.dk].

    Also, Stanford mentions it here [stanfordalumni.org]. It's also been live for quite sometime as Stanford's inCircle [stanfordalumni.org]. The oldest mentions I can find in Google are from 1991, but then again, Google's been pretty well stripped of information on the subject.

    The oddest part, of course, is that http://www.clubnexus.com/ is gone, and purged from the Google cache. Same thing is true of http://clubnexus.stanford.edu/. *sigh*

    Anyway, here's Club Nexus/Orkut in a nutshell: "Some people were upset because they're not sexy," says Buyokkokten.

  • by dspyder ( 563303 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:53PM (#8070847)
    It's interesting... assume you're trying to colonize a planet... or pick a sperm donor for your baby. Do you want to pick 12,000 computer geeks? 12,000 socialites? 12,000 loose slutty women? 12,000 smart people? 12,000 funny people? 12,000 people with "a great personality" (aka: ugly)? A mixture of both/all? Will the intermingle? Will their procreations become boringly average people?

    6degrees or whatever it was called was fascinating to me. Not so much for the seperation angle or the giant cloud, but rather for the cliques that showed up and/or developed.

    I wonder how Googles newly populated universe will end up. And I wonder how cool it would be to have a UID
  • by gbulmash ( 688770 ) <semi_famous.yahoo@com> on Friday January 23, 2004 @07:43PM (#8071268) Homepage Journal
    If you look in the upper right corner near the "Orkut" logo/name, you'll see "Beta" in light letters.

    I'd guess the reason it's invite only is to keep things manageable. If you had a community in beta, would you want it slashdotted with new users (many of whom would bitch and moan about every glitch) while you were still trying to smooth out the rough edges?

    I'm sure that once Google feels this is ready for unfettered public consumption, the invitation only rule will die.


Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan