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 Friendster.com. 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 YourZ.com, 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 Google.com 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” (HowStuffWorks.com). 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.
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