Google's Orkut gets back online

The social network site, an experimental project of search giant Google, is back in action, after a glitch kept Silicon Valley denizens from taking up their invites to join.

Google's experimental social-networking site, Orkut, resurfaced Wednesday after being offline for nearly three days, keeping the thousands of Silicon Valley executives and techies invited to sign up from joining the service.

Orkut, which debuted last week and resembles the popular Friendster, was taken offline Sunday to implement improvements and upgrades suggested by users, according to an e-mail message sent earlier this week by the service to members.

"Since Orkut is in the very early stages of development, it's likely to be up and down quite a bit during the coming months...And, if all goes well, you should see some significant improvements when we come back online," the Orkut team told members in the e-mail message.

Orkut is the latest example of Google's dabbling in new technology. The service, which aims to connect people via their friends and colleagues, launched quietly, but it quickly generated interest from people around Silicon Valley, where Google is based. Orkut restricts membership so that people must be invited to sign up, but it sent out thousands of invitations last week.

As an illustration of the exclusivity of Orkut, an the network was sold for $11 on eBay's auction site this week.

Orkut is the independent project of one of Google's engineers, Orkut Buyukkokten, who works on user interface design for the search giant. Buyukkokten created in the past several months by working on it about one day a week--an amount that Google asks all of its engineers to devote to personal projects. Still, Google owns the technology developed by its employees.

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