An Introduction to Google’s Social Network: Orkut

Orkut is Google's social network that provides community and a way to build connections. It is the predecessor to Google+, Google's new social network now in "beta." In other words, Orkut is Google's adaptation of Facebook and LinkedIn. If you have a Google account, you can sign right on and start building your profile. If not, it'll only take a minute to create an account and you'll be able to use it on all Google applications and beyond as many sites allow you to sign in with a Google ID.

Where did the name Orkut come from? It's named after Orkut Büyükkökten, a Google employee who created Orkut.

You may have seen web sites that allow you to follow the site's update with Google Friend Connect. This isn't the same thing as Orkut. Instead, it uses Google's app and login to add social features to your web site.

Orkut Stats

Orkut has struggled to keep up with Facebook and other more popular social networks especially in the United States. A little over half of its audience hails from Brazil. Over half of its users fall into the 18 to 25 age range with the next largest group being 26 to 30 at 14 percent.

People use the site for personal networking more than any of the other groups including activity partners, business networking and dating.

Orkut Features

Like with any site, you create a profile and reveal how ever much information you prefer. You can control who can see some of your information such as birthdate, school, email address, user names and other personal information.

"My scrapbook" displays your notes, status, friends' statuses and photos. "Friends," of course, shows your connections. Orkut also displays your contacts from Google Contacts, so you can invite more friends with a couple of clicks. "Communities" lists the communities you've joined. The same page also allows you to search communities by name, browse categories or create one of your own.

Like every other social network, Orkut has apps you can add to your profile. They range from silly apps like buy your friends and BuddyToss! to productivity apps like Spreadsheet Gadget and Google Talk. Users can chat, send SMS messages, share files, post polls and play games.

Unlike most social networks, Orkut allows friends to rate others on a scale from one to three for "Trustworthy," "Cool" and "Sexy." Friends can also select to become fans of their friends and build a "Crush List." These features make Orkut more of a personal network than a business one.