Google got us all nostalgic last week when it announced the shutdown of Orkut, probably the first experience of a social network for most of us. Calling Orkut as Google’s “first foray into social networking” a decade ago, the company said it decided to shut down Orkut as other communities have outpaced it.
Officially to be shut down on September 30, 2014, users have until September 2016 to export their profile data, community posts and photos, said a post on the official Orkut blog dated June 30th, 2014, the day Google made its historic announcement.
Though the world may no longer search for ‘how to create an Orkut account”, the social network will live on in its amazing communities created by Orkut users. Starting September 30, 2014, Google will be preserving an archive of all public communities, which will be available online.
For most of us, it is difficult to imagine the death of Orkut, though we are responsible for having deserted it, leading to its eventual demise. I have a few fond memories of Orkut back in 2008 when I joined the official online scrapbook, everyone called Orkut, named after its founder, Orkut Buyukkokten.
Finding school friends, leaving scraps, checking out user profiles, the joy of receiving testimonials, joining school/college or like-minded communities and the weirdness of being checked out by random users, was a whole new cultural shock back then.
We asked our readers how they would remember Orkut and here is a compilation of their experiences, some interesting, some funny -
A reader said her fondest memory is having met her husband through Orkut while most felt that finding their long lost school friends on Orkut was almost a miracle.
The network has also spawned new age techies. Vijay Paul, co-founder of a digital agency and also an avid reader, was in the 12th standard when he started using Orkut and wasn’t too familiar with internet back then.
He recalled getting a message from a Nigerian prince who had put in a zillion dollars in his name and to which he was the heir. “I went mad with joy and started calling up all my friends. After that we all started going mad together!” he added about his short-lived excitement.
It was only until the evening when he finally told his elder brother the ‘good news’, that he was informed about such scams being ‘very common’ on the internet. That had indeed dashed his hopes of buying a complete pack of Pokemon Gaming Cards with the money received from the prince!
For Dheeraj Pulavarthy, Orkut was one of the first steps towards digital marketing. A Biology student who had done engineering to do MBA and become a Digital Marketing – Management Trainee, Orkut was the first social network for him back in 2007. He was happy as it helped him contact his school friends whom he thought he will never see again.
Reader Priya Mittal was able to find her first childhood classmate via Orkut, which “felt like a miracle then,” she shared.
For Hirak Chatterjee, Orkut changed his world. He used to prefer Orkut over Facebook at one point of time because it was much friendlier than Facebook and MySpace.
“Social networking was a new concept back in 2005 when I joined Orkut. Being a regular user of MIRC, Calcutta Global Chat 2 (read Yahoo messenger rooms), MSN messenger, Yahoo groups, I didn’t realize at first how it could be different. But soon things changed when I started connecting to friends I lost touch with”.
As for most of us, Orkut was the first social network for Milan Vaidya. Founder of a social media agency, Milan had joined Orkut in 2006 but didn’t know what to do with it or the scrapbook, communities and other stuff. He recalled being very cautious in joining communities as “I didn’t know what details I post can be seen by others.”
He shared his amusement at how a few of his buddies were taking number of scrap entries very seriously. Numbers mean social acceptance and today we look up with pride at the number of ‘likes’ we receive on our posts!
Bhavini Tanna, a social media professional, says she will miss Orkut and preserve the memories in her heart. “I feel nostalgic when I remember the days of Orkutting. The vibrant communities, the fancy scraps, the unlimited themes, the frequent checks on recent visitors were all fun.”
She added, “Some of the qualities which even I did not know about myself were got to be known from the testimonials,” on the testimonials left by friends that came as a surprise to her.
Avid biker Vishal Kataria didn’t want to get onto Orkut since everyone was on it. He said he joined it relatively late, by which time Orkut had already enabled people’s commenting on the photos and the Notifications feature. “I would spend loads of time cracking wise ass comments on people’s photos, and they loved me for it,” he reminisced in amusement.
But, Orkut also helped him get in touch with friends whom he hadn’t heard from since 9 years. They met and relived good old times. “It took me a while to leave Orkut and switch to Facebook because I got attached to it. Somehow, that feeling has never occurred for Facebook…,” he trailed off.
Calling Orkut as the first version of “social media” interactions, Sharada Sridhar shared how “it was interesting to write scraps instead of chat messages there, upload photos and wait for comments to come very slowly.”
She added, “Not to mention the number of “Hiiiiii” and “U are cute” messages that came from random strangers attempting to be your friend”. This behaviour has stayed on to evolve on Facebook – pls add me!
Sending her condolences to Mr. Orkut Buyukkokten, Sharada recalled her college days best spent with the late night group chats on Orkut. “Testimonials were absolutely divine when you received them,” she recalled while bidding #AdieuOrkut.
For Vijeet Rathi, ex co-founder of a social media agency, Orkut was a rage when he joined it back in college. He was in the 12th standard when Orkut had given everyone an avenue to show off. Everyone started communities or joined one, it was cool back then. Vijeet had become the manager of a community about his city, when he was confronted by another guy who had started a similar community.
He got into a scuffle, abusing and comparing Vijeet’s community to his. “My community is better in terms of class of people in it. They are intellectual and rich.” It got nasty with foul language scraps continuing for a week. Reporting him to Orkut didn’t help so ignoring him was the only option, after which it stopped.
Orkut has indeed helped shape life online before people really knew what “social networking” was. What is your Orkut story? We would love to know them, do share in the comments.