Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Centennial Man

Some milestones invite celebration, usually so if they can be represented in nice, round figures of 10, 25, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and so on. Such an event, inconsequential yet observable, occurred a couple of days ago in my Orkut scrapbook. It reached a post count of 1000.

I turned back to the old posts to see how things had shaped up. The first post is on the date 10th October, 2004. Presumably, this should have been the time around which I would have signed up for the Orkut account. Not strangely, my first post on this blog is dated 24th July, 2004. Thus, it was around third quarter of 2004 that I had started warming up to the idea of "Web community" and becoming familiar with its now ubiquitous tools of blogging and social networking. Not bad, since Blogger underwent a major redesign in May 2004 after it was bought by Google in Feb 2003 and Orkut was launched in Jan 2004. I was well on my way in keeping pace with the technology curve.

It struck me that the posts should hold more information than just giving a kick by adding to a big number of 1000. Immediately the spreadsheet application, Excel, was invoked to get a sense of what constituted this number. By the way, that's an essential trait one picks up while undergoing Management education.

Here is a picture of what I pulled out of the 1000 odd posts. Its a month-wise distribution of the post counts. As I reflect back upon the events that took place over the last two years or so since the Orkut account has been active, the graph starts appearing to make sense to me. It is quite a remarkably accurate representation of my social networking and how it was affected by the events in my life.

  1. The initial surge in the activity is as expected due to beginner's curiosity.
  2. The first peak in Dec 2004 is a result of point 1 combined with a flurry of exchange of New Year wishes with even those whom I have known for long (aka "acquaintances") but never wished before. Seems that in a way, social networking site does make one more "sociable".
  3. The dips of Jan 2005, Aug 2005 and Nov 2005 are spot on! These were the periods when I was preparing either for a transition between employers or for a "certain feline obsession" (as Morpheus once quoted and to which I responded).
  4. Activity during 2005, otherwise, is pretty stable and consistent. Not much was changing in my social circle and no new additions were happening.
  5. The Jan 2006 surge is the result of a wave of congratulations emanating from my success in belling the "feline creature" mentioned in point 3.
  6. Surprisingly, the Dec 2006 posts are lesser than Dec 2005. I had expected them to be higher as a result of combination of New Year wishes and congratulation messages. While the "All the Best"s made a satisfactory mark, the New Year wishes went down considerably. This modifies the observation made in point 2. Social networking sites can give an initial boost to the social skills but cant guarantee a sustained improvement; people can slump back to their usual self even in online space.
  7. Feb and Mar 2006 have the similar stable levels as seen throughout 2005.
  8. The "feline creature", belled in point 5, is finally conquered in mid of Apr 2006. The surge in the second round of congratulation messages is even more highly pronounced than in point 5. The spillover continues to May 2005 at the same rate (almost a straight line). It could have dipped towards later part of May. But now I was a prominent blip on the radar of many observers and they deemed fit to send Birthday wishes even when they had never done before. I can't call it a comeuppance of my similar behavior in point 2.
  9. Jun 2006 dip resulted from another transition - from employment to unemployment (or better termed as "higher studies"). However, the base level has now increased. Its a function of new people added in my network through the "feline" conquest and probably the resulting better recognition among the people I already knew.
  10. New levels of "scrapbook interaction" are attained in Jul 2006 with the added nodes in my social network. However, as noted in point 6, the initial boost started fizzling out at a continuous stable pace. The pattern was reliving itself and gives a peek into how things shape up for me in a new social circle.
  11. The new nodes added in point 9 were not due to my efforts. I was invited by my new peers to join their social circle. Jan 2007 surge saw my proactive action of adding more people from new peer group based on better knowledge about them. Needless to say, some of the newer nodes formed in point 9 have all but become defunct as and when I evaluated my comfort level with them. The newer nodes are a better representation of my currently sought social circle.
  12. Jan 2007 surge is a combined effect of point 11 and exchange of New Year wishes in my extended social circle. It seems that New Year is the most celebrated occasion in my scrapbook; much more than all other Indian festivals.
  13. The slow dissipation in activity, which had started becoming noticeable in late 2006, appears to continue into 2007. The older acquaintances who were quite excited about my new educational institute seemed to have moved on with other celebrations and eye-grabbers. I have had my shot at one-day fame! Till the next big event.........