In a post on Salesman, Salesman… Why don’t you sell me something…Wendell Dryden described problems he’d encountered using the service from within Facebook. Wendell has still not found the ideal  solution: “So, the search goes on. I still want a non-Facebook, real-world social networking site where learners I and can connect” and then concluded “Multiply’s too scammy. Yahoo’s lost at sea. This spring, I guess, I need to take another look at Orkut.

Now who remembers Orkut, Google’s social networking service?

As described in WikipediaOrkut is a social networking service which is run by Google and named after its creator, an employee of Google – Orkut Büyükkökten“. The service was launched in 2004, initially by invitation only. And it is now the most visited website in Brazil and second most visited site in India.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? And I  subscribed to the service shortly after it was launched. But what can it offer in 2009?

Logging on for the first time in ages I found the various discussion groups (forums) which I’d subscribed to after I joined, which included one on Libraries. And what did I find? Well not much discussion – and the odd spam comment, as illustrated.  Similarly the Web Developers and Designers forum, which has over 3,500 members, seemed to contain mostly messages advertising Web design companies.

But Orkut now provides more than just discussion groups – it also provides access to Open Social applications. And looking at the list of applications which I can add to my Orkut page I discovered, on the first page of applications, that I can add Photobuzz to “Make [my] friends smile! Animate their photos with Hugs, kisses, hearts and much more“, Superscrap to “Send christmas scraps and wish merry christmas to your friends. Dozens of new templates created to each occasion. Handwrite your personal message and superscrap [my] friends. True friends deserve a super-scrap everyday!” or use an ‘educational’ applications such as IQ Test to “Take a free 15 minute intelligence test to find out your IQ and compare it with [my] friends to see who is the most intelligent“. You can even install Slapster which promotes itself with the summary: “Don’t just poke your friends, slap’em around with Slapster! Select your friend’s orkut profile picture and slap it around as hard as you can with this fun application!“. This will be an undoubted favourite for Facebook users. Not!

Does Orkut have anything to offer me? I don’t think so.  It seems to have been abandoned by the 35 colleagues I had befriended.  And what’s the point of a social network if nobody is using it?  It looks like Facebook will continue to provide the environment for me to keep in touch with friends and colleagues – despite the criticisms which this service seems to attract.