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Teaching Online Journalism

MySpace and its influence (or lack of)

PaidContent is keeping an eye on MySpace and the other social sites popular among young people:

MySpace had 6 per cent more visits than Bebo last week but three months ago that was 39 per cent. Bebo has already overtaken MySpace in terms of session duration which averages around 25 minutes. Faceparty and Facebook have both lost market share over the last year. Bebo is the second most common brand search term, after eBay and ahead of MySpace. The big shift towards Bebo in the UK is down to its school-centric structure because the social network you chose is determined by where your friends are.

Source: Jemima Kiss, reporting from the What MySpace Means: Lessons for Every Brand mini-conference

And this too, from the same post:

Scott Norvell, London bureau chief for Fox News … said MySpace isn’t influencing the news business directly on a day-to-day basis because Fox [isn't] trawling MySpace for stories every day. Norvell picked out four wider influences: blogs, which distill mainstream media and also hold it to account; independent islands of commentary like bulletin boards; the “commentsphere” and microsites that provide valuable information on things like consumer discussion; and swarms — whether tree-hugging SUV haters or fundamentalist Christians, he said — which are increasingly organised and powerful.

My interest in MySpace and facebook is that seemingly EVERY student at my university is on one or both of these sites. Not a problem in itself, but in a relative sense, they are spending countless hours posting little messages and linking to their 800 “friends” while not learning how to create anything.

For me, it’s more of the mindless consumer model. We watch TV but we don’t know how to make TV. We read but cannot write well. Now millions are making and linking in the visually ugly spaces of these social sites, spending lots of time online, but not learning how to create and have a voice in the online world.

Can voices on MySpace make a difference outside MySpace? Can citizens build political power on MySpace that extends outside MySpace? I don’t think so.

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2 Comments

  1. Patrick Beeson says:

    It’s not that MySpace hinders the creative juices of its users (your students), but rather it exploits another exciting aspect of the Web: social connectedness.

    This is something that few newspapers are taking advantage of, often to their deteriment.

    If more media companies (newspapers, television, magazines, etc) would find ways to use the social Web with their product (information), then I’m quite sure they could turn what appears to be a “mindless consumer model” into a money-making consumer model.

    Oh, and it might also help churn out a story or two.

    Have you used either MySpace or Facebook? I’ve used (am using) the latter, and thought it a very nice concept for networking.

  2. Mindy McAdams says:

    I have “explored” both Facebook and MySpace (I wouldn’t say I’m a real user of either one). I agree that they are very successful for social networking. The Bakersfield Californian has been trying to find a bridge between social networking and their news site, and I think it’s a very, very worthwhile effort.

    The business model does not interest me as much as the kind of interaction the space encourages. A pub in an English town might encourage a sense of community, for example, and foster political solidarity — and what’s a pub if not a social space? A pick-up bar or “meat market,” on the other hand, fosters a more limited scope of activity.

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