In today’s New York Times, there’s a piece in the business section about the surprising international adoption and success of Google’s social network service, Orkut.
The story is interesting at two levels. One, Orkut wasn’t designed to jump the pond and get picked up with such eagerness in Brazil. I was an active member of the service when the Brazilians first arrived, and I think it’s largely a matter of the right early adopters showing up — and then quickly establishing a large country- and language-oriented usage base. But what can we do in our businesses to encourage such avid response — without necessarily targeting specific international markets?
Secondly, the articles relatively quick turn to the dark side of social network services — Brazilian leaders are concerned about people stalking folks through the service, just as American are concerned about services like Facebook.
But, if it’s true that the street will find its own use for things (thanks, William Gibson!), it’s also true that people will find multiple and extremely focused uses for things. What business applications might Myspace and other social network services not specifically aimed at business users have deep inside that we just haven’t picked up on yet?