Information, Ethos and Sociability: Reflections about the Virtual Community ORKUT on Brazil

Eliany Alvarenga Araujo, Marcos Antonio Alexandre Bezerra


The information technology and digital communication, present in our globalized society – The Information Society – come imposing new challenge for the reflections in the several areas of knowledge. A new system of communication that speaks a language with more and more universal character, through digital processes, stimulates either the global interaction of production and distribution of words, sounds and images as it personalizes them according to the preferences, identities, uses and gratifications of the individuals. We are talking about a singular environment; a new social-cultural scenery where the social acts happen with dynamic and inedited formats: the Internet. This environment – named cyberspace – challenges the studious of the social questions to create new theoretical tools that take care of these new phenomena of social interaction. The internet flows at a speed and in quantities not imagined only a few years ago, assuming fundamental economic values and, at the same time, provoking ethic conflicts and consequent necessity of new reflections. Although some studies contribute to launch lights about this virtual reality, the virtual social nets are still a field that still needs deeper reflections. Thus, in this environment we have the challenge of reflecting about ethic questions, which are unsociably connected to the social phenomena, intrinsically connected to the human being. In this sense, this study aims to reflect about the Orkut, a virtual social net linked to the Google, created on January 19th 2004, with the objective of helping its members to create new friendships and keep relationships. Its name is derived from the chief designer, Orkut Büyükkokten, Turkish engineer from Google. At the moment, the Orkut has all over the world, more than 80 million enrolled users, which establish links of professional and personal relationship. The term ethics talks deals with a phenomena of social existence that was born with the humanity, from the moment the man gets conscious of him with the other. The ethics, this way, is related to the initial moment of the human being in the exercise of realizing himself and feeling himself towards the other being that is similar. This conscious of being and to be among equals requires the formulation of principles that preserve the individuality and its integrity in the collective, conceiving to everyone of the same origin as being equals in the relation with the world. If the fundamental function of the ethics is to explain, clarify or investigate a determined reality, elaborating the corresponding concepts, we intend to reflect about the Orkut as an informational phenomenon. As long as we are talking of a phenomenon that uses the information flows and that requires an ethic reflection, we will use the concept of the ethic of the information, proposed by the thinker Rafael Capurro. According to this thinker, the ethics of information designs questions related to the ambit of the processing and by the transmission of information, as well as the management of this information. From an ethics of information as an emancipatory theory we will try to reflect about the liberty of expression and access which the individuals in the context Orkut use. This way we ask: Would it be possible we think in an ethics that investigated, explained or clarified this virtual reality, as a “new” form of experience or human behavior, base don the information mode, based on the information phenomena as a re(connection) element? To do this reflection, we are going to focus the category sociability. The concept sociability was proposed by Georg Simmel. For this thinker the sociability is related to the perspective that the social is a group of relations. The social totality (being “society”, “group” or “community”) is constituted by a relational total, result of a group of relations that the parts which compose it establish dynamically each moment. From this comprehension of the social, there would be only the individual in the society and society in the individual. Society and individual build reciprocally. To Simmel the individuals meet, in the crossing points of the social circles, establishing interdependent relations. From these considerations we ask: In the context of the Orkut the concept of sociability proposed by Simmel could really be applied? The social relations that occur then are analogical reproductions of the ones already existent and in action in the society (sociability)? On the other hand, we can also consider that the subjects (social actors) that are part of the Orkut are establishing a new form of interaction, is this, a new sociability that is not based on the laces of social construction, but in a “Narcisic” sociability, based uniquely on its wishes? Could we consider that in the Orkut we would have a non-sociability? If this consideration is possible, we must reflect about the consequences of such configuration for the human living. We are impelled for these questions to reflect this moment that takes away the point and that requires a new look.