Saturday, October 21, 2006

my fake MySpace

Okay, I admit it. I signed up for a MySpace page. No, I'm not telling you where it is. That's because it's not a real page; it's under a random name, and I posted a photo of Mel Gibson (from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome) for my picture. I have enough trouble keeping in touch with my actual human friends that I don't need a social networking site to meet new virtual people. And I'm not particularly enamored with the MySpace movement anyway, even if it's spawned morbidly amusing spin-offs. In its most most regal imagining I think it might be a harbinger of the social structures of the future: a virtual meeting place, not limited by geography, wherein friends are defined by interests and personality, by shared spaces that aren't necessarily physical. Myspace could be that, but it's corrupted by a hot-or-not popularity contest. Anyone can instantly tell how popular you are -- that is, how many friends you have. It reminds me of junior high. It's cool to have the really popular people on your friends list; virtual celebrities are surrounded by hordes of virtual groupies. It's a bad sign when hot babes are getting photo spreads in Maxim Magazine because of their numbers (in the millions) of virtual friends.

Given all that, I started on MySpace because it's a professional asset. Every band in our recent music showcase had a MySpace page. Because I had so little advance paperwork from anyone, searching and hitting everyone's MySpace pages helped me prepare. And a fair amount of MySpace's useful content is for members only. The members-only concept irritates me. It's actually the reason I chose Blogger when I was looking for a place to start this weblog -- a lot of LiveJournal's useful functions are available for members only, and a good chunk of useful content is available only for paying members. It won't even let you perform searches unless you're a member.

My favorite thing ever said about Myspace came from Paul Graham. In an essay about tech startups he said, "a startup should abe able to explain in one or two sentences exactly what it does. It should not always tell this to users, however. For example, MySpace is basically a replacement mall for mallrats. But it was wiser for them, initially, to pretend that the site was about bands."

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