Write Design Multimedia

Monday, March 27, 2006

' MYSPACE' by Nicholas

When the internet first came screaming onto our computers in the mid 90’s, earlier if you’re a nerd, it made great promises of offering us information and networking possibilities greater than our imaginations could possibly conjure even under the influence of the wildest mind-altering hallucinogens from the depths of the Amazon forest. What it delivered was vast ranges of pornography, pop-ups and episode guides (*SPOILER ALERT*) to TV shows we either couldn’t be bothered watching or were so enamored with, watching it once just wasn’t enough; we needed to read a digest version the very next morning before discussing it over doughnuts and Callipos in high school corridors across the planet.

Sure there were bulletin boards aplenty and newsgroups on topics ranging from ‘how to make an American quilt’ to ‘what happened to that old actress off Beverly Hills 90210 who wasn’t fooling anyone by claiming to be a teenager’, but let’s face it, you only access those sites when you have to, unless you have a problem with direct sunlight and a tendency to listen to more than one The Cure album a year.

But years of electronic evolution and vast amounts of funding being pumped into hypertext development have finally lead to Generation Y’s dizzying pinnacle and it’s name is My Space – http://www.myspace.com to be exact.

My Space lists its official purposes as:

• Friends who want to talk Online
• Single people who want to meet other Singles
• Matchmakers who want to connect their friends with other friends
• Families who want to keep in touch--map your Family Tree
• Business people and co-workers interested in networking
• Classmates and study partners
• Anyone looking for long lost friends!

So hands up if you’re mapping your family tree? Nobody? Oh wait… nope nobody. Thought so!

No, we diet Cokeheads aren’t interested in mapping our bloodlines so much as we’re into wasting time but more importantly, and the main purpose of this essay, is to explain how we’re using My Space to get our work out into the big bad world.

Singer/songwriters who claim they’ve been drawn by the muse to create music ever since they heard Joni Mitchell’s Blue at the tender age of 13 are no longer resigned to playing in the backrooms of Brunswick St bars on Tuesday nights. They can now put their mp3s on their My Space profiles and have their music heard across the Canadian prairies.. maybe even reaching the nicotine-muffled ears of one Ms. Mitchell.

Similarly, filmmakers (i.e. Dad owns a mini DV camera he bought duty free on his last business trip to Hong Kong) can create triumphant works of cinema, the likes of which are sure to have DeMille, Eisenstein and Spielberg rolling in their respective graves muttering, “why didn’t I think of that? One dude on his skateboard crashing into a brick wall while wearing a chicken outfit. Genius!”

As of March 2006, MySpace is, according to my dear dear friends at Wikipedia, the world's fifth most popular English-language website (no doubt behind www.bible.com and www.agathachristie.com). So where did it all come from?

MySpace started its humble origins as an online storage and file-sharing firm. Registration was free and users obtained a small online disk quota, which would increase if they referred new members to the site. It was like a cross between a Hotmail account and a Tupperware party… or Scientology. But the service was slow and nobody was foolish enough to put money into it so it folded in 2001.

But in July 2003, two young Californian college graduates, Tom Anderson and current president, Chris DeWolfe enlisted a small team of programmers and a newly rejuvenated MySpace was born.

Social networking pages are nothing new. Friendster and Hi5 are two such examples, or you could even look at a site such as Gaydar for all my fellas in the 10% minority. But what MySpace did that made it rise above the rest and ultimately led to its acquisition by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in July 2005 for $580 million, was its emphasis on career networking, particularly for artists all striving for their elusive 15 minutes.

Services include:

• User-supplied support forum
• User-friendly
• Blogging
• Community forums
• Instant messaging
• Exchanging comments
• Writing a personal profile
• Adding photos
• Customizing the profile -- background color or images, music, photos
• Rating/ranking users based on their profile, pictures, and written personality
• Allowing users to add friends from other services

There are 3 basic profile types:

- MySpace (the regular meet and greet profile – “Albino loving Goth seeks nookie in South Carolina. Likes Tori Amos. Dislikes Jimmy Barnes. Mail me now!”)
- MySpaceMusic (see below)
- MySpaceFilm (and below that)

So independent musicians, like our afore-mentioned Brunswick St dwelling, Big Yellow Taxi loving songstress, create their MySpaceMusic profile presenting themselves as they see fit, post example of their work and then invite people to see their work, slowly expanding their network until they reach the sort of world fame known only by icons such as Jesus or Paris Hilton.

For example:

Musicians can post their gigs, their influences, maintain a blog as to what esoteric gifts from the universe are currently inspiring them and send out bulletins to everyone on their “Friend List” (i.e. Please request my song on the Triple J Super Request show so that I can become rich and famous). Their friends can also post comments to the page such as “You rock!” or “Even your mama wouldn’t call that good!” Many artists now see MySpace as an invaluable tool, especially for local artists trying to tap into international markets without international distribution deals. As CD sales decline and online downloads skyrocket, MySpace empowers the artist to distribute their product on their own terms. Record companies who specialize in distribution, rather than licensing, may soon find themselves out of a job.

MySpaceFilm works in a similar way where people can post their shorts for the viewing pleasure of others. One filmmaker, David Lehre, posted his short, “MySpace: The Movie” in February 2006 and has already registered 6 million hits. This equates to about a third of the amount of people who have seen Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Not bad for an amateur filmmaker. All you have to do is make a film, do some quick networking on MySpace and it could be seen all over the world faster than you can say Atom Films.

The site earns revenue through advertisements though there are fears that our pal, Rupert, may introduce a charge for the service or some form of censorship so people are advised to jump in fast and make the most of it before it all goes to hell. For example, in January, all mentions to YouTube, another website dedicated to sharing online video content, mysteriously vanished. After much controversy from MySpace members, the links were returned but I’m sure Rupes isn’t done with his fiendish scheme for world dominations.

Other people who have benefited from the MySpace revolution are website designer/creator applications. “Do it yourself HTML” thrives on MySpace with people inserting animations, colours, sounds and quizzes – “Which Buffy character ARE you??”

So yes, it’s a pretty sweet package that can be useful for artists everywhere. But allow me to leave you with one downside:

On November 7, 2005 only 400 out of 3,000 students of Warren High School in San Antonio, Texas showed up after two male students posted that they were going to bring guns to school. Officials saw the threat and the students were arrested before anything could happen. Nice one Texas!


• Alexa Internet Alexa Web Search - top 500 English-language websites. March 20, 2006.
• The Daily News, Washington, January 22, 2006. The MySpace case.
• MySpace, http://www.myspace.com, March 20 2006
• Intermix Media, July 18, 2005. News Corporation to Acquire Intermix Media, Inc, March 20 2006


  • Great to use a strong personal voice in your writing -- esp. when you're writing for online -- but you need to proofread a bit better and keep your sentences short and snappy so your readers don't lose the thread. However, good research and fun to read -- and you have answered the question of what the point of Myspace is...

    By Blogger Administration, at 3:44 pm  

  • Being a long time member of 'Friendster', i've just realised that I’ve never really gone out to check-out other community interactive sites. After reading ur brief on 'MySpace' it seem i'm missing out on a lot of other alternatives that work the same or even better.
    Online Social networking websites such as these seem to have a life of their own. Us humans, by engaging actions within them, is what keeps them alive. This premise fascinates me.

    By Blogger Callum, at 10:03 pm  

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