Should I stay or should I go now?

A little more orkut talk. Click away now if you’re sick to death. I think the fun, as expected, is leaking slowly out. This isn’t to say I’m leaving. This isn’t to say I’m not enjoying it anymore. But we’re still in that fast-forward state, the evolution of an on-line community, in exaggerated time-lapse. It’s […]

A little more orkut talk. Click away now if you’re sick to death.

I think the fun, as expected, is leaking slowly out.

This isn’t to say I’m leaving. This isn’t to say I’m not enjoying it anymore. But we’re still in that fast-forward state, the evolution of an on-line community, in exaggerated time-lapse.

It’s funny to watch. Parts are falling off the car as fast as we put them back on.

Several isolated things:

-Friends I’ve invited are saying “I just don’t know about this thing”. And I tell them, “I don’t know either.”

-People who were complaining about not really getting much out of it are now dating people IRL that they met on orkut.

-People who were having a blast, just loving this thing, are now getting to the point where they’re leaving, or thinking of leaving.

-A friend who was having a great time being ‘someone else’ is now having a hard time with the way this is at odds with a call to ‘be yourself’.

-I’m suddenly losing the inspiration for writing testimonials. I blame Ray for this, but that’s a dodge. It’s either that I am seeing the first leading edge of a loss of interest, or my muse has simply deserted me again and gone on holiday. She does this, usually just when I need her.

We’re seeing the typical group problems. “Me Too” posting, people who think they need to answer every post in every forum. Fights over stupid shit. On the other hand, we’re seeing some good debate, or at least a little of it. The community format does not lend itself well to good debate when posts max at 2048 characters, but still, there’s some good.

But I think we’re already seeing problems of scale, and orkut is, still, very small. One of the advantages at startup is that it was very, very fast. Suddenly, it’s not, and many times of day, it’s hard to get in at all. More important though is that the communities are suddenly getting crowded and since we’re still seeing dozens created every day, it gets harder and harder to track where your friends are and where the good conversations are happening.

This is all stuff you’d expect. But the interesting thing is, it’s happening so fast. We’re seeing decades of USENET and months or years of some other forums compressed into days or weeks here. And it’s not obvious why.

I had a conversation with my dear friend Squidgirl a couple of days ago about the sudden tide change. We agreed it somehow happened around the beginning of April, somewhere between March 31 and April 5. What exactly the change was remains unclear, but there was a sense that someone let some of the air out of the balloon. It’s still up there, yeah, but not so high, and not so happy, and there’s that feeling that it’s slowly sinking.

I switched metaphors there, but who’s keeping score anyway?

There was a change. The date range that we observed there may not be exactly right or consistent for everyone. But it changed in a tangible way.

It’s still fun though. Old friends are still sparring and flirting, re-connecting after many years. New friends are mixing in socially. Connections are made between disparate friend units. There’s fun and there’s value. It’s a silly, light-weight experience.

Where’s it gonna go? I don’t know. I don’t have much faith in the people who run it, but they may surprise me. They have built a clever, inviting interface that’s easy to use and easy to get used to. And they’re working on bettering it. It’s not clear though, if they’re just tinkering or if they’re really working on the fundamental issues. They’re not saying. It’s not clear if they even know the issues exist.

I hope it settles down, once the freshness wears off, and matures into something useful. It has the potential. But the pull of entropy is strong when you attempt social engineering. I don’t know if these people are good enough to overcome the inherent problems, or if the culture that will grow will be a mature enough one to thrive.

Again – we shall see.

There’s a lotta sex in the air though. And that suits me fine. That alone calls me back, the bee buzzing from flower to flower. “Just one more, just one more…”

But you know, if I could get that muse back, maybe I could chuck orkut and get back to some writing.


0 thoughts on “Should I stay or should I go now?”

  1. write for a while then see if you feel like being orkut-y… its not like its costing you anything. Besides, until the end of the month things will be wonky in most areas of life then it will settle in agian.

  2. I’m tellin’ ya, Karl! – Try tribe.net. More people, more discussions going on, lotsa communities (tribes) to check out, and no threat of friggin’ Dorkut jail!

  3. I tried tribe. There’s just something about teh orkut interface that makes it different than the other elctro-friend providers. Not that different=better, but somehow it’s more inviting.

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