I recently opened a MySpace account to try and understand what the allure of it is. I’m still trying to use it to the best of its ability. Since I don’t have much time for socializing, I haven’t gotten into the social networking of this tool yet. But I will.
In the meantime, while I try to figure this out for myself, here are some better-educated sources on the subject.
What is MySpace? From “Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace” (found via LibrarianInBlack):
So what is MySpace?
MySpace is a social network site. In structure, MySpace is not particularly unique. The site is a hodgepodge of features previously surfaced by sites like Friendster, Hot or Not, Xanga, Rate My Teacher, etc. At the core are profiles that are connected by links to friends on the system. Profiles are personalized to express an individual’s interests and tastes, thoughts of the day and values. Music, photos and video help users make their profile more appealing.
The friend network allows people to link to their friends and people can traverse the network through these profiles. An individual’s “Top 8” friends are displayed on the front page of their profile; all of the rest appear on a separate page. Bands, movie stars, and other media creators have profiles within the system and fans can friend them as well. People can comment on each others’ profiles or photos and these are typically displayed publicly.
Originally, the site was 18+ and all data was public. Over time, the age limit dropped to 16 and then, later, to 14. The youngest users are given the option to make their profiles visible to friends-only and they do not appear in searches.
When someone starts an account, they are given an initial friend – Tom Anderson, one of the founders of MySpace. By surfing the site, they find and add additional friends. Once on MySpace, most time is spent modifying one’s own profile, uploading photos, sending messages, checking out friends’ profiles and commenting on them. Checking messages and getting comments is what brings people back to MySpace every day.
Teens have increasingly less access to public space. Classic 1950s hang out locations like the roller rink and burger joint are disappearing while malls and 7/11s are banning teens unaccompanied by parents. Hanging out around the neighborhood or in the woods has been deemed unsafe for fear of predators, drug dealers and abductors. Teens who go home after school while their parents are still working are expected to stay home and teens are mostly allowed to only gather at friends’ homes when their parents are present.
Wired News has a Cheat Sheet on MySpace for parents. The questions covered include:
- Can I search MySpace to see if my kid is on it?
- I did it anyway. Should I be worried that my teenage girl is linked to so many male “friends?”
- What if she’s linking to adult men? That can’t be good.
- How should I talk to them about MySpace?
- What is MySpace doing to protect its users?
Stephen’s Lighthouse writes that MySpace is scary. Why?
- “MySpace is Bigger Than Blogging
- MySpace is Accelerating Faster Than Blogging
- MySpace’ers Network
MySpacers connect better than bloggers, get their friends into it better than bloggers, stay in touch more than bloggers, and form true sociological pods better than bloggers. MySpace is closer to the Google Grid than Google is. MySpace is the closest humanity has ever come to a central community or a central consciousness. MySpace’ers are the largest and most distributed network of human nodes ever created and sustained for more than a few days (tests on human networks of up to 10M people have been tried, but they ultimately fall apart, often faster than they can be created).