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article and orkut review
Sister Lisa sent me this great article from the LA Times describing Diane Sawyer's unscrupulous interview of Howard and Judy Dean. (I read the transcript. It was brutal). I mean, we all know that slack-heeled cowboy boots can win more hearts and votes than a comprehensive view of health care, but when so-called respectable journalists start asking more image/personality questions than policy questions, the whole farce unravels.

So I have been trying out Orkut, Google's new invitation-based social networking tool, and here is what I think so far:

It is Friendster on Steroids. Its souped-up functionality gives users a chance to discuss subjects in forums and expand your community rather than confirming it in a vague, notional way.

(You know, that is what I loved about Napster: a huge community's worth of CD racks being opened up as a massive online resource. My music preferences (and purchases, fwiw) grew while I used it, all the while introducing me to people with a shared purpose. If they, like me, listened to Chickenshack, then I'd check out Freakwater in their list. But this all goes back to opencola and reputation/whoofie. sigh.)

The TOS, as Rich pointed out, sucks. Basically, I have signed my personal information and connections to them to use at will. As someone who avoids air miles and points cards because I don't want the man tracking my purchases, I am pretty gullible when it comes to putting all this personal info online. To be more optimistic, let's say I am commited to the social experiment.

The "karma" section, where you rate your partner by cool, trust, and sexy factors, and then decide if you are their fan...who is fickle enough to rate their friend 3/4 cool? And how are we supposed to take a rating system seriously that employes AIM-style emoticons of smily faces, hearts, stars, and ice cubes?

Some guy added me to his contact list, and I am supposed to indicate whether or not he is my friend. I have no idea who he is. I looked at his profile, and all his "friends" are women with flattering pictures. Not a single guy. At the risk of offending the harem-owner, I said no. Which felt weird.

Friendster is flimsy and incredibly limited as a social networking tool. But since it was first-to-market, I kind of go my fill. The idea of re-writing testimonials or profiles for people gives me a weary sense of deja-vu. I am still waiting for Orkut to do something new.

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