I have this tendency to sign up for social-networking web sites, even though I despise real-world networking, am a profound introvert and — except for the notable exception of Flickr — there really isn’t much to do at these sites once you’ve signed up, unless you bring 60 of your closest friends with you. Still, I sign up.

So of course when Google announced (on the sly: last sentence of that post) that you could join their social-networking site, Orkut, without an invitation — you can just use your Google account — I did.

And, well. It’s sparse (it’s Google). It’s sort of blue. And the groups are covered in spam, much of it in Portuguese. There needs to be better spam reporting on the groups if they are going to be at all useful.

I knew about the Brazilians going in. In fact, nearly two-thirds of the site’s membership is from Brazil. The net effect of it: even explicitly Canadian groups are full of Brazilians looking for advice on travelling to Canada. English-language groups also have strong representation from India and Pakistan: India comprises 11 per cent of Orkut, low for its percentage of the world population but high for its Web presence. The high Indo-Brazilian mix makes for a different place, with different rules of etiquette. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this — it’s just a bit of culture shock for net denizens who have gotten too used to an Internet that reflected their values. This says as much about the Angloamerican centricity of the other sites as much as it does about Orkut. This is what the U.S.-centric Net looks like to the rest of the world.

So … anyone want an Orkut invite?