Orkut is the latest in a string of ‘community’ sites, and it’s been attracting plenty of press of late. Mostly, so far as I can tell, because it’s (a.) an unofficial Google research project, and Google is hip, and (b.) it’s not very good.
Membership is invitation-only, which means us plebs are kept out and only the genuinely worthy are allowed in, which is rather uncannily like not being on the guest list for a popular club and not having a friendly celebrity to hand (say, Mel C, for example – you know who you are). So, I’ve been reading the rants and the criticisms from blogdom with fairly idle interest, since I’m not part of ‘that’ set.
Only… someone’s just gone and invited me in. Which is nice and all – gosh, am I really a ‘somebody’? – except that one criticism of Orkut is its binary approach to connections. You’re either a ‘friend’ of somebody, or you don’t know them. Now, where I come from, ‘friend’ is an unequivocally positive term (or it’s used ironically, or in jest, or… well, anyway). And the guy who’s invited me in? Well, now…
I’m on a whole bunch of mailing lists. Friends’ lists, geek lists, flight-sim pilots’ lists, software testing lists. Some of them I even read. One I’ve more-or-less dropped off is run by The Omni Group, an American developer of spectacularly elegant software for Mac OS X. Their general discussion list is excellent, but it has its share of trolls – people who post rants, pick fights, or are generally belligerent. The online equivalent of Glasgow’s famous Neds.
One troll used to post anti-unix screeds that ran on for page after page of barely-intelligible rambling. He became somewhat notorious; as I recall, he’s known for similarly antisocial behaviour on some of the Perl lists. Anyway, at one point I took to running his posts through an automatic text summarising system, and reposting the result. This caused considerable mirth.
This is the guy who’s invited me into Orkut. He’s not my friend, I don’t know him – from his writings, I wouldn’t even like him. I have no desire to be associated with him via some spuriously coarse-grained ‘social software’ linking system. But I’m still quite keen to play with Orkut, out of semi-professional interest.
What do I do?