Social Networking Site: Orkut

orkut.jpgIn today’s busy lifestyles of people who work almost 15 hours a day, no one has time to go and meet their relatives and friends or call them up. In such a busy environment, social networking sites like MySpace, Cyworld, Facebook, Tagged, Jhoos, Gazzak, Bebo and many more connect individuals who share a common interest. They interact with each other, and build a close-knit relationship with each other. It is an online platform where the users can create a profile and build a personal network that connects them to other users. In the past five years, such sites have rocketed from a leisure activity into a phenomenon that engages millions of Internet users. One such popular Social Networking Site to which almost all of us are addicted is “ORKUT”.

Orkut is an online community designed to make your social life more active and stimulating. Orkut’s social network can help you maintain existing relationships with pictures and messages, and establish new ones by reaching out to people you’ve never met before. Orkut makes it easy to find people who share your hobbies and interests, look for romantic connections or establish new business contacts. You can also create and join a wide variety of online communities to discuss current events, reconnect with old school mates or even exchange your favorite recipes. The interaction with anyone through this networking lies totally under one’s own discretion. Before getting to know an Orkut member, you can read their profile and even see how they’re connected to you through the friend’s network.

Orkut was launched on November 17, 2002 by the search company Google, the brainchild of Orkut Büyükkökten, a Turkish software engineer, who developed it as an independent project while working at Google. Originally, the Orkut community was felt to be elite, because its membership was by invitation only. At the end of July 2004, Orkut surpassed the 1,000,000-member mark, and by the end of September it had surpassed the 2,000,000 mark. As of 15th July, 2007, the number of members was over 62,638,127.

Orkut has a list of features unique to itself like ‘Scrapbook’, ‘Communities’ etc., apart from the normal features of messaging and photo album. A user creates his or her “Profile”, with his/her ‘Social’, ‘Professional’ and ‘Personal’ details. A user can also upload his/her photo as the photo of his profile. Of late Orkut has allowed its users to add videos from February 2007. “Scrapping” is popular among the Orkut community as it substitutes for a kind of offline chatting. Users can scrap on another member’s scrapbook, even if that member is offline.

Another unique feature of Orkut is “Communities”. Anyone with an Orkut account can create a community on anything. One can post topics, inform users about an event, ask them questions or just play games. There are more than a million communities on Orkut on absolutely everything from pizza to pasta, from Film star to superstar, from your pet to your teacher. In addition to this there is a personal messaging feature. Users rarely use this feature. It is mainly used by community owners to ask others to join their community

Users have options to rate their friends in the order of “Best Friends”, “Good Friends”, and “Friends”, “Acquaintances” and “Haven’t met”. Further, each member can become fans of any of the friends in their list and can also evaluate whether their friend is “Trustworthy”, “Cool”, and “Sexy”. Orkut allows anyone to visit anyone’s profile, unless a potential visitor is on your “Ignore List”. When a user logs in, he can view the people on his friends list in the order of their logging in to the site, the first person being the latest one to do so.If person A deletes person B from his friends’ list, person A will be deleted from person B’s friends’ list also.

‘Every coin has two sides’, similarly with so many unique features of Orkut there are various controversial issues tagged with it.The explosive growth in the popularity of Orkut has generated concerns among some parents, school officials, and government leaders about the potential risks that arise when personal information is made available in such a public setting. Despite being under heavy criticism for facilitating fatal crimes as well as hosting hate groups and fake profiles, Indian youth have voted Orkut, as one of the most popular social networking site in the MTV youth icon-2007. The award for Orkut becomes more significant in the wake of controversy generated after the Adnan murder case, wherein accusations have been made that this murder happened due to the social networking opportunity made possible by Orkut.

Despite the strong resentment among people, the vote for Orkut as the ‘Youth Icon for 2007’ clearly proves that social networking is not only popular but has become a part and parcel of our lives. The real issue is how we counter these messages of hate and radicalism. In my view Orkut is a well-maintained Social Networking Site, which has unique features. People are addicted to it with a clear knowledge of its advantages and disadvantages. As there lies good and bad facets to everything, so does Orkut has its own benefits and shortcomings.

As far as the controversies are concerned, Orkut is not a site; it is more of a culture or a concept. Even if someone bans the Orkut, there will soon emerge another such concept with equivalent popularity and features. The concept of social networking is blended with social web and is inseparable with the youth today.

People reserve the rights to love or hate anyone. If there are hate groups, then there are bigger love groups as well. Moreover, there is no communication model that doesn’t carry its share of limitations and as far as Orkut is concerned, I see more pros than the cons. With all the weaknesses and strengths Orkut carries, its usage is entirely on a personal discretion of the user.

I am hooked to Orkutting, Are you?

Aastha Khurana