Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Adios Orkut!

Life was going good. I got my first phone - Nokia 3310 (still epic!). I got my first computer (with a simple P3 processor and 20GB hard disk). College was awesome. Friends were great - all wonderful characters whom I still miss. Those were the days when Super Mario / PacMan / Sonic / Minesweeper ruled the gaming industry. I used to play Cricket and Lawn Tennis (on 8-bit video games) with my friends all day long. None of my friends in college had a girlfriend, so all of us were always free and devoid of any commitments. None of us had a need to show how many friends we had, what we thought of the other person in the same group, no one wanted to rate how cool the other person was. Life went on in a "real" social environment… 

…till Orkut happened!

Not that we cared. But it forcefully entered our lives. I used to get repeated reminders of people in my address book that s/he has joined Orkut and is waiting for me! That's right, waiting for me to join them. I just met them a couple of hours back and now they were waiting for me on a strangely named website known as "Orkut". These are the same friends who didn’t wait for me in the bus stand so that we can catch the bus together, but were waiting "endlessly" on social media. That time, we didn’t know anything about social media. Orkut was just a website where you need to register ourselves and share some information in public domain. 

Now that Orkut is nearing its scheduled end on 30th September 2014, I am experiencing a strange sense of loss. I don’t use Orkut now. In fact I haven't used Orkut for the past 5 years. But it was part of my early 20's and hence it matters. Those were the days without smartphones. There were no apps. Internet Explorer was the most reliable way to explore an enchanting new world of Internet. Orkut became one of the most critical parts of the puzzle that partly made us who we are.

Some things in Orkut that I will cherish all my life – 
  1. Testimonials: We all like to show-off, don’t we? Even the most introverted type has an innate desire to be known by those around him. And what better way than testimonials! Orkut took this concept to an all new level and introduced this feature as part of their offering. This allows friends to write testimonials for someone and it appears as part of the profile, once approved by the recipient of the testimonial. Writing and receiving testimonials were a craze during those times. One usually used to reciprocate the gesture. And we used to cherish the “kind” and in most cases “flattering” feelings our friends had towards us. I, for one, will surely miss this feature. It baffles me why Facebook did not opt for this feature!
  2. Who viewed your profile: In other words, intrusion! But we didn’t mind. Orkut had an interesting module where you used to know who just viewed your profile. It perfectly targeted the human curiosity factor. That’s also one of the ways you can find friends. They view your profile and you add them, in case they didn’t initiate. If you opt out of this, no one will come to know you viewed their profile and in turn, you will never come to know who viewed your profile. Now that I think of it, I am glad Facebook didn’t opt for this feature. Its more of a bane than boon.
  3. Scrapbook: Exactly what the name suggests. Write what you want on your friends’ scrapbook. Your popularity used to depend on the number of scraps you had vis-à-vis your friends. Some smart ones (me included) used to delete our scraps once the purpose is served. Deleting the scraps also used to shield me in the scrapbook popularity index! C’mon, I don’t want people to know I am less popular than them. They say, “try try till you succeed; else remove all evidence that you even tried”.

In more ways than one, Orkut made the first step towards social media till Facebook took it to a totally different level. And now, as we speak, there will soon be a new social media platform being made in some college project somewhere around the world. Personally, I wanted to continue on Orkut, but all the friends I had on Orkut were moving to Facebook and I was left with only two options - either to stay on Orkut without updates and interaction from friends / move on to Facebook. Like most, I chose the latter. 

When majority followed the new leader, Google eventually decided to post this message to signal the end of an era - 

Nevertheless, a big thank you to Orkut for all the wonderful memories. And as you move towards the fag end of your product life-cycle, may your URL rest in peace.


  1. The Testimonials was the best feature of Orkut. And all said and done, that was the first exposure to Social Media, So there is always this small corner in our heart which will always miss it :-)

  2. Testimonials and Fans were the highlights indeed... The excitement when the number of either of them would increase :)

    I got on to the bandwagon late... but it was great fun while it lasted...

    1. Yes Vishal. I forgot about the "fan" part.. Loved it when the number increased.. :)


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