MySpace.com (a place for friends) is the planet’s fourth most popular English language website and the seventh most popular website in the world. It is a social-networking-community site offering photos, blogs, bios, user profiles, groups and an internal communication system of e-mail, instant messaging and bulletins.
Headquartered on 2nd St. in Santa Monica, MySpace was founded in July 2003 by current president Chris DeWolfe (a graduate of USC’s Marshall School of Business), Tom Anderson (an alumnus of both UC Berkeley and UCLA) and a small team of programmers. It was partially owned by Intermix Media, a company that evolved from eUniverse, the original Myspace partners. Subsequently, Intermix Media was purchased in July 2005 by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation for $580 million. Myspace has projected revenues of $20 million for 2006.
Driven in the early days by indie bands who found it to be an effective way to promote their music, MySpace has exploded worldwide as the premier community site with (at the time of this writing) over 73 million members, a substantial proportion of which appear to be teenagers eager to be “seen.” Dating, networking, friends and serious relationships are profile options.
So, what is MySpace really used for?
Although the MySpace home page is basic and functional, the profile pages are set up so that users can customize their layout and design with virtually no restrictions. This has a downside though, since most users are not skilled web developers. Problems such as browser freezing due to hi-bandwidth objects such as Flash or malformed CSS coding are common. That being said, however, it appears that MySpace portrays all the qualities that make up a society, both of a benevolent and malevolent nature.
From bands and musicians to party planners and exotic automobile dealers, the commercial advocacy aspect is endless. “I use it to present my work and mingle in the virtual world of like-minded professionals. In addition to the exposure, I have made some business contacts as well. I just finished a vampire movie that I got from a director who heard my music on MySpace and I am working on the music for the entire website for an English biologist who wants theme music for his research company,” said recognized Santa Monica-based film and TV music composer Daniel Davies.
Other “friends” had nothing but glowing accolades for the medium. “All I know is I love it, it keeps me in touch with many at once. I always know what’s going on, and a great place to vent when needed. It became an addiction at first I still hate when I can’t check it, a few times a day,” shared “Brat––grrrl.”
Another user, “Tammy,” claimed she had obtained four jobs in the film, video and real estate industries from networking on the site. Others had a more lamb-like myopic approach: “I joined because my friends were on it and I didn’t want to be left out,” someone e-mailed me.
Back in the three-dimensional world, I asked a typical soccer mom friend of mine if her two teenage sons were on the site. “No, we don’t do that,” she said. “They are too busy with sports, studies and social activities to be involved in that. Besides, my sons say that the people that they know that are on it are weird.”
So what is MySpace and what could it become? Is it merely a frivolous contemporary interactive bulletin board, a tool of social evolution, an expanding microcosm of human communities or a collage of all of these elements?
Recent events, such as the apprehension by authorities of a pedophile and some would-be Columbine copyists might suggest that it is the latter and more. Is Big Brother watching through the binoculars of the Internet? Perhaps.
A word of warning to the bespectacled innocuous 9-5 bank teller by day who becomes a vamping transsexual sado-masochistic cross dresser by night; posting this information replete with pictorial evidence may not endear you to your staid conservative boss when they stumble across your public display after joining in order to “keep a watch on their kids.” Welcome to the Machine!
Editor’s Note: Tim Broughton can be visited at www.myspace.com/bluecats