Orkut – Web of life
I have recently joined orkut community and it seems to be very interesting. If you visit somebody's profile, it shows a chain of friends at the top, the first one in this chain being youself, then one of your friends, then one of his, and so on till the person whose page or profile you are looking at.
Now, that is really interesting. So, I went to the search page and opened profiles of people at random, and surprisingly the chains had 5 or 6 people in most of the cases. Out of 49 randomly chosen people, only two of them were connected by a chain of 7. I have only 2 friends, so there was already a big handicap on my side of the chain. In my sample space, there were 26 Indians and 23 foreigners ( all Brazilian, probably leaving out 2 ). Out of 23 foreigners, only 2 had a chain with me. But 23 out of 26 Indians had a chain with me and that includes many with 1 or 2 friends only. I have put the results in this pdf file. The first column shows the number of friends the person has and the second column, the number of people in the chain connecting us.
So Orkut ( or Google ) must be doing some sort of shortest path search. But the Orkut web has millions of members. So how does orkut do this in such a short time? ( it probably searches among those of the same country first and so on ). But remember, one can join the orkut community only through invitation. SO, this probably helps orkut in maintaining a sort of hierarchy among the members, and this could very well be the feature that minimizes the search time drastically.
I salute to the ideas generated at Google.