One of the most interesting of Orkut are its communities. These range from the mundane to the bizarre- from the Anyone but Bush in 2004 or communities for various educational institutions, or authors, to things like Cats Rule! or Pirates versus Ninjas or even stranger still There is No Cabal. Since the aim of Orkut is social networking, there is a special section devoted just to 'romance and relationships. This one includes communities like What is Sexy, Sex at Other Places to the more prosaic Boston marriages! Some of the communities are actually an excuse for spamming, but there are a few that can be worthwhile- a few of my friends and I have a community called Driftwood where we discuss books, movies or stuff we have in common. Because it's a more intimate group, it's possible to have loads of fascinating discussions, since we all know each other. More importantly, it's a good way for say 20 friends to stay in touch all at once- bit like a Yahoo group but fancier.

Orkut has another useful feature- it allows you to put your pictures up on the net in the form of an album. If like me you've exhausted you Yahoo site and you want a quick set of 12 snaps that your friends can see everytime they want to know how long your hair is or how fat you've grown, I refer them to Orkut!

A number of, well, 'famous' people can be found on Orkut- the most famous person I came across was General Wesley Clark...apparently 279 people think he's sexy and he's part of some boring groups like military but also is a member of Bush is Stupid. Hmmm...Orkut didn't help his campaign much, did it?

Finally, there's one last rather disturbing aspect about Orkut that ought to be raised. This relates to Orkut's privacy policy. It contains the following paragraph:

By submitting, posting or displaying any Materials on or through the service, you automatically grant to us a worldwide, non-exclusive, sublicenseable, transferable, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right to copy, distribute, create derivative works of, publicly perform and display such Materials."

This is very similar to Microsoft Passport Terms which caused an outrage two years ago and then had to be withdraw. This is what the original Terms from Microsoft contained:

By posting messages, uploading files, inputting data, submitting any feedback or suggestions, or engaging in any other form of communication with or through the Passport Web Site ... you are granting Microsoft and its affiliated companies permission to:

1. Use, modify, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, publish, sublicense, create derivative works from, transfer, or sell any such communication.

2. Sublicense to third parties the unrestricted right to exercise any of the foregoing rights granted with respect to the communication.

3. Publish your name in connection with any such communication."

Finally, just look at the wealth of data that Orkut tries to collect- it's detailed and would be a marketing man's dream. e.g. Orkut asks you not just basic personal questions but also asks you questions about whether you smoke, drink, your sexual orientation, your favourite movies, TV shows, books and what kind of cuisine you prefer. Clearly such data in the wrong (right?) hands, could be a gold mine!

If you want to take a look, go to