February 03, 2004

What's wrong with me? OR The five characteristics of Orkut friends.

I really like Orkut. I mean, I really do. I'm awake at 4 a.m. thinking about some stuff I want to add to the Writing community--stuff from my write resources site which is *down* because I hadn't paid Earthlink--and I'm sitting here thinking about how cool these communities could be.

What woke me up was one of those "Duh!" nudges, which often wake me up, that said the writing community shouldn't just be for writers, but for people who need writers. You know, a symbiotic kind of thing. So I added a line to the community description.

Poor Susan Kitchens. She must think I'm stalking her.

It all started yesterday when I added her "as a friend" because I found us in the same community *and* because I've bumped into her online (as in read someone linking to her), *and* because we share friends. Susan accepted and we started disussing the whole umbrella term "friend" over there, over here, in our past reincarnations, and so that got me thinking about what constitutes a friend on Orkut.

So far I've noticed the following:

1) some folks are trying to preserve the term "Friend" for someone they've met in person--someone with whom they have a personal and/or professional relationship.

2) some people consider a "Friend" as someone they know from a two-way exchange online--as in, they've emailed, IM-ed, been in a previous community or online discussion with, their "Friend."

3) Bloggers will often add you as friend if you're on their blogroll and/or have left them comments.

4) Some people will add you as a friend if they've ever seen your name before in their native language, or if they have a favorite aunt with your name.

5) some people [[ME]] will also add you as a friend if I find myself overlapping with you on Orkut and WISH you were my friend. That means we are (1) I find that you and I are in the same communities that are emerging there, (2) I look at your profile and laugh or cry as I regret I haven't known you all along, and (3) lastly, it will likely turn out upon further inspection that we do have other friends in common (FOAF).

I think I'm unusual this way. At least judging from a few emails I've gotten asking, um, do I know you? And then I have to explain to them, no, but you wish you did because obviously we've been friends for a long time. We just haven't encountered one another yet.

As I said to susan, I offer it as some strange kind of platonic valentine: Will you be my friend?

I'm really glad Susan said yes.

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