Myspace (http://www.myspace.com) is a social networking service created by University of California, Berkeley graduate Tom Anderson. After emerging in September of 2003, the site quickly gained a large user base thanks to the number of disgruntled Friendster users and people whose social networking needs can’t be met by a single service. Myspace has many of the same basic features as Friendster, such as uploading pictures, posting comments about others, bulletins for all of your friends, searching for users, and inviting your friends.

So what’s different?
  • Journal/Weblog – What a great idea. Blogs are all the rage these days, so having your own as part of your Myspace profile only makes sense. With Friendster you could look at someone’s profile and see what movies they like; with Myspace, you can see what sort of pointless banter they like to spew out to their audience when they are bored at 2 am.

  • Add captions to your pictures and comment on others’ pictures – Why doesn’t Friendster do this?

  • Have more than five pictures – You can never have too many black and white, three-quarter from above shots of yourself posted on your profile.

  • Add other users as your friend even if they aren’t in your personal network – I am undecided as to whether this is a good or bad feature. I am always getting friend requests from perfect strangers, and most female users have something in their profile saying “don’t add me as your friend if you don’t at least message me first or I will just delete your friend request.” Apparently everyone is having this same problem of too many friend requests. At the same time, however, I have made a few friends on Myspace, and it is nice to be able to have them in my friend list (without having to give them my full name just so they can add me to their list).

  • Use HTML and CSS to add images, colors, sounds, etc. to your profile page – I don’t think I even need to discuss the major drawback of this. If used properly, you can really make your profile page look pretty decent. No one uses it properly. But, it’s nice to have the freedom to toss an animated gif into your comment on someone else’s profile page.

  • Room for more text in your profile – Now you can list every movie you ever thought was interesting in your profile. I don’t know if there is a limit to the text blocks you can enter for the different areas of interest (if there is, it is more than enough), but I know I hit the limit in Friendster way too soon.

  • See how many times your profile has been visited – Your Myspace profile is like your own little webpage, so why shouldn’t you get your own web counter?

  • Browse Profiles – You can browse through others’ profiles based on search criteria such as physical proximity, age range, and sex. This makes Myspace much more akin to a dating service than Friendster is.

  • User groups – I haven’t really explored this feature, but it seems like it could be interesting. Form your own group, or join an existing one.

  • Picture Ratings – Not only can you upload tons of pictures (how much do jpegs weigh?), but you can have others rate them! There is something very rewarding about being superficial to the extreme and giving ugly people scores of ones and zeroes. But why are my pics rated so low?

  • Classifieds – It’s not quite craigslist yet, but it’s pretty cool that they added this feature.

  • Delete your profile – Oddly enough, Friendster did not have the option to delete your account, and I heard stories about people having to threaten with litigation to get their account removed. Myspace allows for simple account termination.

  • Faster servers – This is why so many people I know are ditching Friendster for Myspace. Of course, as soon as everyone switches, Myspace might be the one with server woes

Other interesting things about Myspace
Because Friendster is so popular, people often refer to their Myspace friends as their “friendsters”, and say they are “friendstering” while they use Myspace. The Friendster lawyers better get to work or we might see their name become public domain very quickly.

Although you have to be 18 to join Myspace, many minors are signing up with false birthdates and then switching them to reflect their true age once they have their account. I look young, so I get way too many messages from 17 year olds.

Synopsis
Myspace is a very successful alternative to Friendster that combines some of the best features from various dating and social networking services available to you on the web. The only drawback (and probably the biggest) is that all your friends are probably still on Friendster. But if you are sick of Friendster's slow servers and you want to punch it in its ugly face, then take a deep breath, relax, and get a Myspace account.

The original myspace node is now two years old, and it's time to update.

Friendster is dead.
As of February 2006 myspace is the 5th most popular english website (according to traffic ranking site www.alexa.com). It has grown to over 56 million users (this is not an entirely accurate estimate as many of the profiles are fakes) and the majority of those users are teenagers and people in their early 20's. Intermix Media, the company that owned myspace, was bought out for $580 million in 2005 by by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation (the parent company of Fox Broadcasting and other media enterprises).

What's Been Added and Changed

  • Minimum user age is 14.
  • Instant messaging with other users.
  • MySpace Music, band pages and music videos.
  • Music codes that can be put into profiles enable users to have their favorite song play for you when you look at their profile.
  • MySpace Film
  • MySpace Games
  • Forums

Controversy and Problems
As with heavy metal in the 80's and chat rooms in the 90's, parents are throwing a fit over myspace. Many are worried about sexual predators. Few parents understand that for many teenagers "friend collecting", or putting as many people on your friends list as possible, even people you don't know and don't talk to, on sites like myspace is popular and they shouldn't worry that their 15 year old daughter has a gagillion 20-something or older male friends. In addition to this, like any fairly unregulated forum, myspace has had problems with fake profiles featuring slanderous content, and racist and otherwise hateful usergroups.

In summary
Myspace is the new bastion for 15-year olds with cluttered and raucous profiles featuring web-quizzes telling them what their earth element is and a dozen photoshoped pictures of themselves taken at armslength looking broody. While some people claim to use it for actual networking purposes, I don't know why you would unless you actually wanted to talk to 15-year-olds, and who wants that?

Sources: http://www.myspace.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MySpace
http://www.alexa.com
"Scenes from the MySpace Backlash" http://wired.com/news/politics/0,70254-1.html?tw=wn_story_page_next1
"A MySpace Cheat Sheet for Parents" http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70287-0.html?tw=rss.index
"The MySpace Generation" http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_50/b3963001.htm

I have become, it seems, a cranky old man of the internet. I do not quite understand some of the things that the younguns are doing on the internet these days. One of the things I have trouble understanding is myspace, although ironically this is not because of how new it is, but of how old it is.

To preface my comments, I should say that I am not too much of a snob when it comes to silly internet sites, and have joined just about any social networking site that is free and halfway interesting. When I first saw Myspace, I thought it seemed annoying, pointless and juvenile, but I had the same prejudice against livejournal, prejudices I eventually overcame. After having occasionally gone to myspace for at least a year now, I still find it annoying, pointless and juvenile. There are many problems with it: the self-indulgence, banner advertisements, pornography, security holes, ownership by News Corporation are all down points, but none of them are deal breakers.

The immediate and persistent problem with myspace is it is a throwback to the early days of the World Wide Web (which at this point means before 2000). Some of you may not remember, but around 1998, people started getting their personal homepages for the first time. And since it was a novel, exciting thing, many people weren't too particular about what went on their geocities page. People piled up bad clip art and animated gifs and unusual fonts and crazy background images and linked everywhich way. It was the equivalent of someone who was just learning to drive, and wanted to drive everywhere. It was very understandable, but before long, people realized that it was annoying, and most internet users realized that putting stuff on the internet just because you can was not a good idea.

From my admittedly casual browsing of Myspace, it seems like most users have forgotten that lesson, or are part of a second generation that never learned that lesson, because the biggest problem with myspace is people putting things up just because they can. The same type of scattering of writing, pictures, backgrounds, sounds that we left behind in 1999 or so has inexplicably returned, along with Flash and some new embedded toys. And for some reason, it has taken off on a level that, say, livejournal (not exactly something that you have to be a rocket scientist to understand, anyway) never did. I just can't make out what the great appeal is. Were people really waiting around for a chance to post random pictures of cartoon characters on their profiles? What great need does MySpace fulfill?

On a little more abstract order than that, one of the causes or effects of the "just because you can" nature of MySpace is the lack of any system of categorization I can ascertain. Slashdot, for example, has articles, and users, which produces comments. Livejournal has users, who post posts, which are commented on by other users. Kittenhate has wankers and their wanking. Whatever the particular meat of the site, whether it be technology or masturbation, you can eventually get down to it. But MySpace has no categorization of its substance, because it has no substance: its just the ephemera of whatever people want to do at that moment.

I could be missing something, and if there is some vital need that MySpace has managed to convince tens of millions of people that only it can fill, I would like to know what it is. But until then, I am going to try to stay as far away from myspace as I can.

So I've got a MySpace account... now what?

  • MySpace vocabulary:
    • Profile- Your personal web page on the MySpace network. This is where all your pictures, interests, comments and friends are displayed.
    • Friend- This word has lost most of its meaning in the MySpace networks. While originally used as a word for someone that you know, its now merely a person who accepts your friend request. The majority of the people found on someone's friends list are often unknown outside of MySpace. You may view a person's friends from their profile.
    • Comment- a message from another MySpace user that is displayed publicly on your profile. Before leaving a comment on another person's profile, one must first be added to their friends list.
    • Blog- Stands for “Web Log”. This is a place where one can keep a journal, write some poetry, or jot down their results from a quiz they just took.
    • Bulletin- a public forum for you and your friends to post messages. Anything you post on the bulleten board will only be seen by your friends.
  • Who sees what?
    • There are several methods of sending another MySpace participant information. While some of these methods will only be seen by the recipient, others are free reign to all prying eyes.
    • A message is the only fully private way to send someone else information. Think of it as email, with a subject and body. With your MySpace account, you'll receive an inbox for all your messages. You can reply, delete, and forward your messages, just like any other email client. A message can come from anyone; friend or otherwise.
    • The bulletin board is similar to the email service, with the exception that, when sent, goes to all your friends. There is a common area where one can see their bulletin board entries, as well as those on their friends list. It is impossible for anyone else to see your bulletin notes. This method is somewhat private, as most people have hundreds of people on their friends list.
    • Commenting on other's profiles has become a ritual for the MySpace community. It allows for an easy way to tell a person what you think of their page, or what you find offensive. Comments can only be left on friends profiles, but are viewable to anyone with an Internet connection.
  • I look really good, and I think I should share that with the world...
    • One of the most popular aspects of MySpace are the pictures. The picture of yourself you upload to MySpace is displayed every time you send a message, leave a comment, or post a bulletin. If you are someone else's friend, your picture will be displayed in their friends list. There is no way to make your picture private. If you upload one, it can be seen by anyone, so if your camera shy, don't upload any pictures of yourself.
    • To upload your picture to MySpace, click on the “Home” link, then click on “add/edit photos”. You will have the options of adding captions, and choosing which photo you wish to be displayed publicly.
    • In the event that you want to add photos to your profile other then your “main” one, you must find a file hosting service. This means you must first upload your pictures to the Internet through another server (not MySpace), and then place the picture URL on your profile in the desired place. You should never have to pay for image hosting services, as there is a wide selection of free ones available to you. The most popular image hosting web pages are:
    • Remember, it is illegal to display copywrited images, or pornography. MySpace clearly states that violators will have their accounted deleted if they violate their terms and conditions. There is a service that allows MySpace users to report illegal or offensive content, so play nice with the other kids.
  • HTM- whats its?
    • MySpace allows members to insert HTML code into their sites. The code isn't what you would use when making a web page from scratch, however. You needn't place the usual -html- and -body- tags, as MySpace includes that in its embedded code.
    • Using HTML, one can insert into their profile, pictures, web links, and music. Disappointingly however, MySpace has disabled java script for all of its members. The regular HTML tags apply though. There are many different fields in which you can insert HTML code. If inserted in the “about me” section, it will be displayed in the center of your profile as the main attraction, and if put in the “interests”, “music”, “books”, “television”, “movies”, or “groups” sections, it will appear on the left most frame of your profile window.
  • I'm going to go meet danny94573 this afternoon, is that safe?
    • No. You should never meet anyone you haven't known previously. If in fact you do choose to meet someone you've encounters on MySpace, its usually a good idea to do it in the daytime, in an area with many people. Also, it is recommended you bring a friend you already know along with you. There have been many tragedies concerning blind dates associated with on line networking services, and MySpace is currently under the gaze of officials. If you don't give others your personal information (ie. Your home address), there is nothing to worry about. Nobody can harm you over the Internet, until, that is, you extent your relationship to meeting face to face. In short, don't trust those you don't know until they prove otherwise.
  • An extensive list of frequently asked questions can be found on the MySpace.com home page. While there is a section devoted to answering your questions, I have yet to hear of anyone receiving a response to their question. With over 6 million users, it would be impossible to give everyone any sufficient attention.

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