Two million friends?

Another silly Orkut posting.

I accepted an invitation to join Orkut, partly to find out what "social software" was all about.

I continued to accept "friendships"--by and large--to give it a fair chance. And, I think, proposed "friendship" in one or two cases (both actual friends).

So far, there have been some strange invitations to join middle eastern communities, a couple of political mass-mailings, and that's it.

Today, a landmark of sorts was reached: I now have a supposed circle of 2,005,387 "friends" via the 19 "friends" in my social circle.

I'm now pondering whether to pare that set down to people who might fit more plausible definitions for useful social software--that is, people who I know enough to place some trust in (beyond the level of trust that I, as a notorious Pollyanna, place in almost everyone). That's mostly people I've actually met, and maybe one or two who I've learned to trust. I think it comes to 8 out of the 19. Nothing against the other 11; I just don't really know them to any significant degree.

I'd guess there are 300-500 people, maybe more, who I would put on a "trusted acquaintance"/friends list...People I'd go at least a little out of my way to respond to or help, and who I think would do the same for me. I suppose 8 on Orkut isn't bad.

But, based on that absurd two million number, I can only assume that "friends" of "friends" are as loosely defined as the current 19--that is, there's no real reason to believe that a "friend" of a "friend" of a "friend" of a...has anything more than possible name recognition with the link in the chain.

I haven't done anything yet. I'm not convinced that social software is worthless, but I'm pretty much reaching that conclusion for Orkut's implementation, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Postscript: Orkut now consistently yields a "Page has no data" error when I log in, so I think Rochelle and I are pretty much in the same boat.

Such is life: Even Google-owned websites go bad.


Walt, you do make me laugh! Would this constitute 19 degrees of separation, do you think?

You do sound like a rather trusting fellow, so please be careful and don't arrange any meetings that aren't in well lit, public places! ;-)

Thanks. Somehow I've made it through 59 years with a "trust, but verify" attitude. But yes, trust only goes so far...

For example, if/when I invite conference reports as a new feature in Cites & Insights, I'll probably require RTF because I don't trust .doc attachments (given macro possibilities) unless I know *exactly* who sent the attachment and why.

I never thought I'd be more popular than Walt in any circles, but "You are connected to 2007240 people through 50 friends" so Orkut says.I actually forgot about that site until now, haven't logged in in ages.It does tell me Karl's birthday is next week, good to know.Wow, the LISNews community has 72 members! It's still fun to click around and see who connects to who (or is that whom?).Just think, if we had a dime for every friend on that site!

You have 50 immediate "friends" at Orkut. Your 50 yield 2.007 million on six steps; my 19 yield 2.005 million on six steps; probably most of my 19 are among your 50.

Some crazed researcher with lots of, um, friends, could probably develop some study of the point at which the number of immediate friends has little or no impact on the number of six-step acquaintances.

Actually, Blake, you've given me the solution: Stop checking Orkut once a day for bemusement, and check it once a fortnight instead. Or month. Or quarter. Or never.

This prompted me to check my orkut account to see how many friends I have, but I couldn't remember my password. All those good friends lost!

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