Monday, December 1, 2008

Social Networking Through MySpace

When Web 2.0 had made its arrival, life on the internet was about to undergo a dramatic change. The user-based feature of Web 2.0 is an important aspect in its success. The participation of users helps to create and maintain the effectiveness of these new applications. The access to information became easier and interaction between others started to become more vital. A new form of social networking became possible through the use of the Internet. There was a new way to connect with family, friends and others from the seat in your own home. With the increasing amount of users, the creation of MySpace helped people interact from all over the country. MySpace implements many creative features to help people make unique profiles and network themselves through a crowd of millions. Many perceive the person to be who they are by the way the present themselves. MySpace generates a tremendous audience which can create an overwhelming tension of how the user participates within this new online community; whether the participant uses the website for social networking or creating a profile for personal use.

I will start with a brief history of MySpace and how this Web 2.0 application came into existence. Although Wikipedia is not considered a scholarly source by many, the website did provide a great detail of the history and the beginning of MySpace. MySpace was born in the fall of 2003, as a new and improved version of MySpace was launched that November with the help of Chris DeWolfe (CEO) and Tom Anderson (President), both were employees for eUniverse. MySpace originally was owned by, Inc. The purpose of the website was for MySpace to be a data sharing site. Within two years of its creation, MySpace quickly became one of the biggest and most successful social networking websites ever created. EUniverse took the liberty and the incentive to make 20 million of its users and e-mail subscribers aware of the new creation. In the spring of 2005, MySpace had successfully obtained 27 million users and a growth rate of 400 percent since the start of that year; MySpace also surpassed with more hits and number of pages viewed per month, not forgetting that the average viewer spent one hour and forty three minutes on MySpace per month (New York Times). People can sit distracted for hours looking at profiles of friends, local bands, or even search for people with common interests. It is no wonder why people have gained such a fascination with MySpace; you are connected to practically everyone by the click of a mouse. Less than two years after MySpace made its explosive entrance into the Web 2.0 world, it was bought by Rupert Murdoch (Chief Executive of News Corporation, parent company of Fox Broadcasting) for $580 million dollars. No matter how much MySpace was sold for, it still remains free of cost for its users. The amount of users can dramatically decrease with a financial fee for its services. Less people will be reluctant to try it if they have nothing to lose. This idea of free participation led to the large community that began and still exists today. Since MySpace has been purchased, Fox has moved it to a larger global scale. It is now possible for users in Europe, China and other countries around the world to participate in this social network.

Now that you may have a better insight of how MySpace was originated and who created it, I will explain the functions of MySpace, how it works and what you can do to create unique profiles. First things first, you have to sign up and then create your own person profile. Most would start with the basic demographic information you can fill out. You can start with the title name for your page and your name or nickname that is viewed by others (for example, my nickname is “Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch).You can even create the name of the link to your page. After that, you can fill out more personal profile. People vary in the information that they disclose in their profiles, you can include: your interests, hobbies, music, movies, books, heroes, about me, and just any other general information that you may wish to include.

You are also entitled as the sole designer of your webpage. The way this functions is through Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). HTML is a series of texts that explain to the profile what functions you want to use. For example, “font-size: 14px” would tell the profile to use font size 14 when presenting my text to other viewers. There are a variety of websites you can visit to find these HTML codes for the designs you wish to display. You can add pictures of your favorite band, car, sports team, etc. You can even change the display of your mouse pointer. There are no limits to the amount of customization to your profile.

With the rise of Web 2.0, many may know about the phenomena of blogging. MySpace gives you choice of blogging as an activity on your personal profile. Many people like to express themselves, talk about their daily lives and hear feedback from friends and others. Implementing this feature helps people understand who you really are beyond the simple information of your name, location, interests, etc. Blogging gives you the opportunity to display what is on your mind and to connect with others that can have the same interests. Blogging is one of the leaders in social networking, and MySpace had the brilliant idea to implement this idea further and create a profile behind the blogs.

Similarly to blogging, you are allowed to post bulletins on a bulletin board. Any bulletin that a user posts becomes viewable to all of his/her friends. Like a blog you are not limited to anything you post in bulletin, but blogs and bulletin boards usually express different content and material. You can inform people where you are, what you are doing, ask a general question and so on. People are able to reply to your bulletins just like blogs, but the key difference is that blogs are only viewable once you are viewing someone’s page. Bulletins are posted on the homepage once you are logged in. Although the two are very similar, blogging and bulletin boards are used in contrasting manners.

What really makes the social networking possible is the space for commenting. People communicate through writing on each other’s walls. Once again, you always have the freedom to write anything you wish. As of recently a new tool allows users to approve or deny what someone has posted so no privacy boundary is crossed. You are also able to comment through private messages, blogs, bulletins and photographs. This allows for people to leave comments on all aspects of a person’s profile. You are able to connect with people on many different levels of interests. MySpace integrated many forms of online communication into one profile, thus helping in understanding the user and not just knowing their likes or dislikes.

If you like music, you can add a song to play for your profile. A couple of years ago MySpace created the jukebox. The jukebox allows you to have a playlist of multiple songs and artists on your profile. This allows other viewers to recognize what songs and artists you are particularly interested in. Being a musician myself, this new feature I consider this a great addition to one’s profile. Music allows people to express themselves in a way words cannot. This innovation led to the creation of MySpace profiles for music bands. This helped many bands promote themselves and expand socially through the networking of MySpace. “Some of the first people to utilize MySpace were musicians and bands, who may have heard about it in the first place from the Web site's founders, who were active in the L.A. music scene” ( This can eliminate the need for fliers, cost of making demo’s and self promotion. You can advertise yourself to people in other states and countries, so if you play a show in that state or city you could have already built a fan base and have an audience when you get there.

You may ask yourself who actually uses MySpace? The harder question may be who doesn’t use MySpace? People from all different races, cultures, and even countries are logging in and spend hours a day looking through profiles. I am sure there are people like myself who joined to see what the big fuss was about. Some may create a profile for personal use and blogging, musicians use MySpace for networking, and I personally use MySpace to stay connected with friends I have not seen for long periods of time. There are many reasons to why people subscribe themselves to this social networking hub, but everyone seems to have their own. It can be used to find people in the same area as you. Before I arrived to SUNY Albany I searched the SUNY Albany group. I found thousands of people who attended and searched to see if I can find anyone similar to me. Networking this way can help people not feel like a stranger in a new city. Many people who use MySpace may not be very social and this is a way to meet someone new. It ranges from early teenagers to adults and everything in between. There were problems with stalkers and pedophiles, so the new age minimum has become 14 years old. As shown in the article about Mississippi, teachers were restricted from networking themselves with their students due to unprofessionalism (Newsweek, 2008). Due to the access of improper users, MySpace has limited itself to an age limit to ensure better safety and quality of experience. MySpace had an experience of being the guinea pig of a large scale social network and dealing with privacy problems first. Many have switched to Facebook but my space still generates over 100,000 new users every day.

When MySpace first started, there was a free flow of communication with less restrictions and more interaction between people. The issue of stalkers and pedophiles never crossed anyone’s mind. When MySpace was faced with these problems, almost every feature quickly was able to become private. Now you are able to limit what you disclose about yourself so it does not fall into the wrong hands. MySpace now faces the dilemma of how people use this social network. It narrows down to private vs. public usage. Some remain still keeping their information public, but the information is more limited and does not reveal personality. Rather just displaying basic information which does not cut the surface of what that person is really like. Like the competition with Facebook, the users of both have dramatically limited themselves to communication with their friends. This limits the amount of communication between users and weakens the force of networking if people limit themselves to only certain friends.

Then again there are those who still persist with social networking and meeting new people. This may be a difficult task because people are more comfortable with privacy than they were when MySpace was created. Musicians and bands are the biggest source of social networking through MySpace. I have not checked my profile in a month, and discovered 9 band friend requests when I logged in. The participation of the users helps flow of social networking, something MySpace based itself on since day one. The community does still hold strong even with new restrictions; but now people are more careful and aware of what they reveal to the public eye. Unfortunately this limits the spontaneity it once had, but does not damage the community or the people within.

MySpace was an innovator in a class of its own when it was originally created. MySpace combined Friendster, blogging and much more into one unified thing. This process mixed the efforts of various social networking into one large picture. People were allowed to roam aimlessly until they have found something interesting. Things have changed since the start, certain functions and aspects have been altered for personal desire and safety. MySpace was one of a kind and endured many difficult hurdles. People may use MySpace for different reasons than they once had, but nonetheless still remain members of this online network. Since MySpace was the first of its class it had to endure many challenges, but in the end MySpace still remains near the top as one of the best social networks.

Kendall, Lori. (2007). "Shout into the wind, and it shouts back." Identity and interactional tensions on LiveJournal. First Monday, 12. Retrieved on August 21, 2008 from:

O'Reilly, Tim. (2005). What is Web 2.0: Design pattersn and business models for the next generation of software. Retrieved August 21, 2008 from

Shah, Aarti. (2008). Social Pioneers (Cover Story, pg.15). PR Week

MySpace Creates Guidelines for Social Networking (2008). Newswire

Browne, David. (2008). MySpace Music Takes on iTunes (Issue 1063, p.26). Rolling Stone

Get Moving With MySpace (2008). Advertising Age

Social Networking With Students Off-Limits in Mississippi School District (2008). Vol. 27, p.4. Education Week

Swartz, Jon. (2008). Social Networks Go To Work. USA Today


There were many Web 2.0 applications to choose from, but I have chosen MySpace. Almost everyone I knew had a MySpace account since it has made its arrival, me included. Although I have not used MySpace in quite a while, I signed into my account once again. From the last time I frequently visited this page it has made some new changes.

Similar to Facebook, MySpace has added the feature of the mini-feed. MySpace also has enforced the minimum age of 14 to be a user on this network. MySpace used to be a network for everyone but changed that when younger children encountered problems with pedophiles.

On a lighter note, I started to visit the profiles of my friends and try to catch up on what I missed. Now you are able to have multiple albums rather than a set amount of pictures on your profile. You are also allowed to tag yourself and others in photos; similar to Facebook who are their biggest competition in the process of social networking on the internet.

After looking at the profiles of my friends, I tried to expand and visit the profiles of their friends who I was not friends with. Many for personal reasons quite a number of people have set their profiles to a limited view or private altogether. Although some did leave their personal profile exposed to everyone.When I used to use MySpace frequently I do not remember private profiles, people were allowed to visit everyone’s profile. This is probably another safety precaution due to prior problems.

Antoher aspect of MySpace I always admired was networking of bands. MySpace allows bands to create pages and promote themselves through users. Being in a band I have taken advantage of this feature many times when attempting to bring more people to shows. The advertisement online surely beats handing out demo's and wasting money on cd's when the same came be done via internet, with luxury of never leaving home.

Overall, MySpace has not dramatically changed over the few years I have neglected its use. MySpace had implemented new features in an attempt to make it better and keep up with the competition. It is kind of funny to me to see how much MySpace and Facebook try to copy each other. Most of the features are shared by both networking sites but there are quite a few differences that make each website unique in their own way.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Small World Networks

When meeting someone new, have you ever thought about the odds that you might have a friend in common? After reading chapter 9 of Here Comes Everybody: The power of organizing without organizations by Clay Shirky, I began to realize this is not as unlikely as it may seem. Social networks are on the rise with the creations of Web 2.0 websites such as Facebook and MySpace. Shirky also mentions another social networking tool called Dodgeball. What these social networks have in common is that they all use the “Small World network.”

A Small World network is efficient because the best form of communication occurs when everyone is allowed to connect with everyone. Or as Shirky simply puts it, small groups are densely connected. “Homophily” categorizes this as the grouping of like with like. To show how this works Shirky explains rather than having a “loose” group of 25 people, create 5 “tighter” groups of 5 people who may know others in different groups. What this does is not only create better connections between the people within that group, but at the same time you are loosely connected with the other groups through common friends (if you don’t already know people in other groups). “A handful of people are extremely critical to holding the whole network together, because as the network grows large, the existence of a small number of highly connected individuals enables the very trade-off between connectivity and effectiveness that makes the Small World pattern work in the first place” (Shirky, p.217). If anybody ever decided to leave or separate themselves from a certain group, Shirky claims that the connection or the links between the other members would not be disrupted.

What really struck my interest was the social networking tool created for mobile phones, called Dodgeball. Shirky narrates how on a random night on the way to the bar Magician, Shirky texts “@magician” to the Dodgeball service. The service not only recognized Shirky as a member, but it recognized the bar as well. Then Dodgeball sends text messages to that person’s friends letting them know where Shirky is; at the same time lets you know if any of your friends are there, or if their friends are there. This is using the friend-of-a-friend network. This resembles the mini-feeds that are being used in MySpace and Facebook, another tool helping people network through social communities. Exemplifying how Small World networks can be efficient.

At the beginning of this chapter I did not think that Small World networks can be so powerful. When members of a certain group have a close connection or relatedness with a few people, it can branch out further to mutual acquaintances you both might know. The use of grouping people together through homophily can not only connect you to people you may know, but people with similar interests as yourself. This chapter helped to break down the use of major social networks and explain how they function effectively. The Dodgeball service was something new and something I had no idea existed. As Shirky explains, although not making great conversation with Andy (friend-of-a-friend), the service allows the person for the chance of expanding their social network. This helps the common person trying to satisfy their desire to meet new people and satisfy their need for homophily.

Shirky, Clay. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations (chapter 9). New York: Penguin.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blogging: Is There An Online Community

The creation of the internet has done such wonders for technology and communication. We may sometimes take this for granted and not even realize what we are a part of. Blogging is a new sensation that is taking us by storm. Bloggers are allowed to write freely and respond to others as they wish. You can find blogs that pertain to your interests, or you can even start your own as a personal diary/journal. I never heard any of my friends or any I knew for that matter to be a part of this online trend. According to the website Technorati, they have tracked over 75 million blogs and that number is only expected increase rapidly. Will this be the new sensation that takes over the internet? At the beginning of this semester I have been a part of this “blogosphere” but on a smaller scale. Now I have placed myself as a participant in this new online word I had never been a part of. The question that I attempt to answer is: Is there a real community within these blogs?

After a little searching I finally came to a decision of what blog I have decided to be a part of. I found a blog on the HBO series Entourage. After visiting the website, I noticed there is one blog posted each week about the episode that Sunday. I saw a great deal of interaction amongst the users on the website. They talked about the episode, why they though certain things happened, even what they thought was going to happen in future episodes. Before I even interacted with anyone I began to feel the “online community” Aaron Barlow refers to in Blogging America. I observed three episodes and the blogs about them. The first episode I observed had good conversation and insight on the characters. People were having friendly responses amongst each other. The reactions to the second episode threw me off guard. There was little to no interaction on a very controversial episode where I thought there would be more discussion. When I looked back at the blog in a few days, someone by the name “BJ” posted something negative about the episode. After all everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I looked for more posts from BJ to see if this was a constant trend, and unfortunately he was. Most of the posts he had were nothing of value, and he brags about the episodes most felt were not that great. When the next week came around I was hoping for better results. BJ once again posted two negative comments which took away the focus of the blog and centered the attention on him. Someone by the user name “Hernandez” posted something back to him, and I did as well.

The blogs of the past two weeks made me realize that there is in fact an online community which implemented through blogging. It proved the point that all bloggers are not “weirdo loners in their mothers’ suburban basements” (Barlow, p.37). The purpose of this blog was to unite people with the same interest to interact amongst each other. The prior blogs I was not a part of showed this community exists by exemplifying great relations between bloggers. BJ on the other hand was a disruptive force to this community. He seemed to be a “troller” which was identified by Kollock and Smith in an earlier reading. A troller is someone responds rudely or in an impolite manner attempting to get a rise out of someone. In this particular case he was trolling the blog. By doing so, he destroys the foundation of the blog and the community. People post less on the blogs because they do not want to be bothered with a person who is a nuisance. The quality of communication decreases and if that person is not removed it can potentially destroy the blog all together. A lot of bloggers do no write just to “babble,” but want to write something of relevance and intellect to stimulate good conversations amongst that community. Bloggers like BJ give the bad reputation to blogging; blogging anything they want without consideration to the other participants.

After my experience blogging I no longer would make the assumption that bloggers write anything just to have their voice heard. There are different forms of blogging, one is for personal use and the other is for public. The community that is formed helps to produce good communications and interactions based on a common interest. My question now is what you do with a person who disrupts the community, and has the potential to destroy everything that was created from it. The more BJ posted, the less others posted their reactions and feelings. This was unfortunate to see, because I was hoping for the quality interactions that were there before I joined this blog. I hoped the quality of interaction would have remained the same from when I first began looking at this website.


Barlow, A (2008). Blogging @merica: the new public sphere. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Kollock, Peter & Smith, Marc. (1996). Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in computer communities. In Susan C. Herring (Ed.), Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social and cross-cultural perspectives (pp. 109-128). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Observation #5 - 11/10/08

In this past Sunday’s episode, there was a lot of drama going on. Eric Murphy, which is Vince’s manager, is trying to get one of his clients a show. The agency wants Seth Green to do the show, but the two have had a bad history over Eric’s ex girlfriend which led to a fight in Las Vegas a few seasons ago. Seth plays games with Eric and his client Charlie the whole episode and then threatens to have both of them taken off the project while sitting in the lobby of the agency. This leads to another fist fight, but this time Charlie throws the first punch after being threatened. After trying to do things his way Vince is convinced by Werner to let him direct the movie his way even if he is losing his lines. Werner tries to explain he does what is best for the movie and essence he is doing what is best for Vince’s character. Vince listens considering Werner had won 2 Oscars for foreign films, and takes his critiques into consideration. Ari tries to bring Klein into the company after convincing Barbara to give him a fair interview. She puts him on the spot asking him to pitch to her as if she was Julie Roberts, and Klein has a panic attack. As Barbara is at her luncheon after being awarded the 33rd most powerful woman in Hollywood, Ari makes presence known. He congratulates all the women for latching on to powerful men for them being where they are. He threatens to split the agency down the middle and makes his exit after another obscene comment. As I checked to see if anyone responded, to no surprise BJ had another 2 negative posts. “Is there anyway this show could be less interesting??? Its not even fun to rag on it anymore….its just so pathetic! Please put us out of our misery!” And “Dude……….they ALL are douche bags on the show……with exception to Ari (and the” Unfortunately this kind of took the aim off the episode, someone by the username “Hernandez” and I responded to his constant negative feedback. We both told him not to post if he does not like the show and to stop wasting everyone else’s time. You can obviously tell he has not watched earlier seasons and had no idea what situations were important. He took the aim of blogging and made it about himself rather than people discussing what happened. But Hernandez did add insight along with his blog referring to Vince’s acting which Ari made an issue a few episodes before. The person who posted the blog also attached a video from the fight in Las Vegas for others to judge whether it was a sucker punch or not. This again took away the focus of the episode to a prior incident on the show. Unfortunately, the blogs for the past 2 weeks were the weakest I seen on the website. The blogs about the last week’s episodes did not focus on the episode and the one before no one participated. I was expecting more from my observations before I chose this site. But the first episode I observed had good conversation going on, I wish it was like that for the past 2 episodes.

Observation #4 - 11/06/08

So I came back to check on the blog on November 6th to see if there were any more posts after the upsetting 3 I saw on Monday. To my surprise there was ONLY 1 post. This really threw me off because there were so many posts on prior episodes and it did not make much sense considering this was a really good episode leaving all of us wondering what is next. The only post was bashing the episode, but the blogger “BJ” gave no evidence to his claims of why he did not like the episode. I also looked earlier blogs to see what BJ had posted; to no surprise most of his comments are negative. The only positive comment he had been on an episode many felt was not important, does not make any sense to me. Maybe people are just waiting for next week to see what happens, but I don’t know why no one else had blogged. I felt like posting something myself would have been useless because, it seemed like everyone forgot there was an episode last Sunday or they were just ignoring the blog altogether. Either way it was very upsetting but there is another episode around the corner, and I am looking forward to seeing if the problems from last week’s episode are going to be resolved. Hopefully next week will have better results and more people participating.

Observation #3 - 11/03/08

I checked the blog on Monday following the episode on Sunday, November 2nd. There were two main story lines in this episode. First Vince began shooting Smoke Jumpers, a little nerve racking considering he hasn’t shot a movie in over a year. All of a sudden his co-star Jason Patric started to steal of his lines and had no idea what was going on. When he approached the director Werner, he told Vince he was aware and he was trying to keep Jason happy. But at the end of the episode we find out that he was giving Jason Vince’s lines intentionally. On the other end Ari, is approached by his old buddy Andrew Klein (played by Gary Cole). They were friends at the original firm they worked at before it split and both parted ways. Klein is dealing with hard times due to the writer’s strike and asks Ari for a $500,000 loan. After looking at Klein’s books, Ari finds he is very successful and rather than giving him the loan he offers to buy his company and bring him back to where he was supposed to be. After arguing over dinner and drinks, Ari reminds him of the time when he was going to go back to Chicago to be a lawyer and Klein responded with: “Do you really want to die a loser lawyer in Chicago?” Ari comes back with “Do you really want to die a loser lit agent in the Valley?” and the deal was made. I was really upset with the 3 posts; none of them were insightful but just obvious observations. People loved the episode but no one stated why or what they liked about the episode. No one liked the co-star Jason Patric, and did not understand why Werner lied to Vince. Although Ari’s co-partner Barbara said no to buying Klein’s company, “Ryan” thought she would come around and I did as well. Especially due to the fact Ari could have left the agency for Warner Brothers and it would have probably fallen apart. Honestly I expected a little more depth from these comments, they were very vague and anyone could have said half the things just from watching the trailer. I am going to check back on this blog later in the week and hopefully there will be more considering last week’s posts were good.