Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

Orkut? Kaput!

Having a last name like “Powazek” makes a guy fairly sensitive to personal noun pronunciation difficulties. Still, with all the talk about Orkut going around the last few days, I’ve found myself trying to pronounce it correctly, just so, yaknow, the pets and the houseplants understand what I’m murmuring about.

Problem is, the word only conjured up one other word in my mind. You know how some words just remind you of other words for no good reason? Well, every time I read “Orkut” my brain said: “Kaput!”

Which led to some amusing internal conversations: Orkut? Kaput! Awooorcooot? Kapoooot!

Then I tried to log in to Orkut this morning, and guess what, it is kaput!

We’ve taken orkut.com offline as we implement some improvements and upgrades suggested by users. Since orkut is in the very early stages of development, it’s likely to be up and down quite a bit during the coming months. None of the information you’ve entered will be deleted, and none of the connections you’ve made will be lost. And, if all goes well, you should see some significant improvements when we come back online.

I can’t say it’s unexpected. When my Orkut mailbox became stuffed with users sending messages to the entire userbase about how there’s this bug that allows users to, well, send messages to the entire userbase, I knew that, Houston, we have a problem.

But the real problem with all of these social software services, as many others have said, is there’s nothing to do once you’ve whipped out your friends list and seen who’s is bigger. It’s yet another variation on the old Gertrude Stein quote: There’s no there there. Of course, she was talking about Oakland.

Investing in these services is work. It’s work for me, and it’s work for my friends who have to make that agonizing decision: Is Derek Powazek your friend? Yes or no, buddy, there is no in between.

And what do I get for all that work? The ability to send email to my friends? Heck, I had that already and I barely use it. The ability to know who my friend’s friends are? This is San Francisco, we already know all of our friend’s friends, and most of the time we want less connection with them, not more.

In the virtual community biz, there’s always a thin line between creating avenues for connection where there’s an actual human need, and being that annoying camp counselor with the clipboard and microphone, screaming, “Everybody now! Sing along!”

I used to be a camp song leader, so trust me when I say I know how annoying they are. Until these social software sites can fulfill a need I actually have, instead of one they have to convince me I have, they’re just going to be another iteration of the messageboard fad.


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Hi, I’m Derek. I make awesome community-centric web stuff. I sometimes post things to Instagram. I’m mostly harmless. More.





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