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July 18, 2004

Brazilian vs. USAian Throwdown on Orkut

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Posted by Clay Shirky

What is it about Brazil that makes them such avid users of social software? A year ago we covered the Brazilian connection during the Fotolog controversy; now it’s Portuguese v. English on Orkut (with the English speakers, I might add, looking like jerks.)

Says Reuters:

Tammy Soldaat, a Canadian, got a sample of Brazilian wrath recently when she posted a message asking whether her community site on body piercing should be exclusive to people who speak English.

Brazilian Orkut users quickly labeled her a “nazi” and “xenophobe.”

“After that I understood why everyone is complaining about these people, why they’re being called the ‘plague of Orkut,”’ she said in a site called “Crazy Brazilian Invasion.” […]

“When the average Orkut user goes to look at community listings to see what’s out there, he’ll see a list populated with pretty much all Portuguese communities,” Gibbs said. “This is highly frustrating since Orkut is not a Brazilian service.”

“Orkut is not a Brazilian service.” It’s hard to know where to begin — the assumption that because English has been the historically dominant language it should be made the dominant language by fiat in the future is simply foul.

(And, on an interesting note about the panic of the majority, the assertion that Orkut is “pretty much all” Brazilian communities has a parallel in the study of sexism — men will report that any given room is half women when the actual proportion of women crosses one-third.)

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: social software


1. Su on July 18, 2004 8:01 AM writes...

Hello, from Brasil :)
There are a few connected people in Brasil, but this people are very active. This people understand spanish and english, but prefer to talk in portuguese, our native language.
In Orkut, is the same. I think americans can't understand this, when they try to ban portuguese from the forum and create communities to antagonize brazilian people.
Here we have a 'old history': we give a bull to not enter into a fight, but... if we enter ... we give all the flock to don't go away.
Brazilain community accept other languages. It's natural, world is multicultural and this is good.
The great thing in the web is that I can come here and talk to you. No barriers, :) We have a lot to share and to cooperate to turn this world a decent place to live.
Orkut can be a place to know best each other.
Be nice with my latin english and a hug from Porto Alegre,


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2. Jens on July 18, 2004 12:51 PM writes...

With its all-American name "Orkut", you'd think those dang foreigners would know to keep out...

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3. xian on July 20, 2004 5:34 PM writes...

The "please talk American" folks on social networks are missing out on realizing that they are having their first consciousness of being in the minority.

The more mindful would grow empathy for those who might feel inundated by the English language online.

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4. Jenna on July 26, 2004 7:44 PM writes...

Es de ignorantes el trasladar las barreras limitrofes a internet.
And yes,I could have written my post in english
I just didn't want it

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