Chris Anderson voiced a concern I've had with social networks for some time. The bring more SPAM. Apps like Friendster , tribe.net, Tickle by Emode and Orkut worry me because they tend to increase the amount of friendly spam I get once I join. I still want to join as many of them as possible because I want to be able to connect with old friends and growing up on 3 diffrent continents means I 've lost touch with quite a few friends.
After reading about Orkut in Chris's blog I decided to give it a try. (Many thanks to my firneds Clara, Charles and Jenny for Inviting me to join).
The origins of Orkut can be traced back to Club Nexus a social network tool designed to link Stanford University students back in the fall of 2001. I personaly think Club Nexus was fairly sucessful but when it was ported over to InCircle for use by alumni it's reception was an order of magnitude higher. It's no coincidence that one of the creators of Club Nexus was Orkut Buyukkokten he developed Orkut while working at Google as a Software Engineer.
As an alum I use InCircle quite a bit (I could look up contact info of old friends) and I often get spammed by friends of friends. I like the quality of the relationship idea Chris talks about (Tim Marman also comments on it) because I think it provides the right solution to the problem. I think I should be able to specify a maximum message delivery cost and people should apply costs to their links (A cost is essentialy the inverse of how strong your relationship with the person is). The delivery cost of a message is the total cost of the shortest path between sender and myself. If it's greater that my maximum accepted cost then It shouldn't be delivered. I'm sure someone who knows more about this kind of stuff could come up with ways to fine tune my own personal link costs based on the way I treat messages I receive.
There are rumors that Google willl use Orkut in a way similar to the what Eurekster has done. That would be pretty interesting. At the very least I would like to see what the result looked like. I think a combination of social networks done right and the ability to verify the e-mail address of a sender might provide us with a partial solution to the spam problems we have today.
It's hard to say whether I like Orkut or not yet but I definitely intend to use it some more. I don't mind having a friends list of 100 or so people but I would really love to be able to define the links better.