Posts tagged “social networks”

Facebook, sweet Facebook!

Oh, Facebook. Why are you so compelling? Yes, even I, your friendly neighborhood “Irish pirate” curmudgeon, have fallen prey to the charms of the Facebook. I know, I know. But there is much to be said for this networking tool, most of which has already been said.

I have found old friends lost long ago due to cross-country moves and new friends that have added me to their list after only one meeting. It is truly fascinating to sift through the social networks of my friends and acquaintances, playing a personalized version of six degrees of Kevin Bacon. Facebook provides your degrees of separation automatically.

While this seems like tons of fun, I do think there are dangers to be found in this form of social networking. I think it is idiotic to post your cell phone number on any website, yet many do just that on Facebook, Friendster, etc. The danger most apparent in Facebook, though not unique to Facebook, is stalking.

Many people on Facebook list their class schedules. This is a powerful tool for getting to know other people in your classes and can prove very helpful with missed classes, homework and the like. But it also tells the weirdos out there exactly where you will be at a certain time. Not the most appealing thought.

Keeping this in mind, I think it is unavoidable that such networks will continue to grow. We have all “googled” our friends, both near and far. But unless that friend has a web presence or celebrity status of some sort, they are not likely to be found on google. Facebook fills this void in the social networks of college students and staff. Friendster, et al., do the same for the rest of the world. MySpace has even launched some music careers.

People my age (I am 26) are just beyond the grasp of Facebook. The vast majority of my friends from my undergraduate studies are nowhere to be found on the Facebook. The ones that are there are now staff at other universities. Yes, this makes me feel old. My point is that my 16-year-old sister is an online maven, unlike my friends. She and her friends have run through their xanga phase and now eagerly await the high school version of Facebook.

Whether Facebook is the end-all, be-all of communities remains to be seen. It has the potential, through the “alumnus” option, to maintain itself as one of the elite communities. But I don’t think it will take over the world, if for no other reason than the fact that it can only go forward, leaving most of us fogies in the dusty shelves of yearbooks past.

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Who cares about MTV anymore?

This is the question that Dave Sirulnick is surely asking himself as he watches MySpace climb atop the newest media pedestal. Sirulnick, for those who don’t know, is the Executive Vice President of MTV News who has been a trend-setter at MTV since its inception. He can’t be happy about this new darling of the youth culture. MySpace poses a direct threat to his baby and is now under the control of his corporate overlord’s sworn enemy. Rupert Murdoch, with the gristly flesh of MySpace still stuck between his teeth, can’t wait to run into Sumner Redstone at the next meeting of the Illuminati, basking in the glory of his latest feeding, er, acquisition.

Back to the question at hand: is MySpace the future and if not, what is? Is it the giant-killer that can bring down the MTV Goliath? The answer to these questions is a resounding “maybe.” MySpace may be News Corp’s answer to Viacom’s dominance of youth culture, specifically youth news sources like MTV News and The Daily Show. Personally, MySpace is much more appealing to me than the thought of wading chest-high through a big, steaming pile of Laguna Beach during a commercial break, trying to find the next big band to break on the LA scene. But I have recently escaped MTV’s demographic, so my opinion is about as valid as, well, a big steaming pile of Laguna Beach.

Unfortunately, audience inertia is working against the kids on MySpace. Inertia, or indisposition to motion, exertion, or change, lends its power to television networks well before an Internet upstart. MTV clawed its way to the position of dominance in youth culture over the last three decades and is not likely to roll over now. If anything, MTV is likely to fire back with an incarnation of a MySpace-ish cyber-world.

Are you still reading this? I didn’t scare you off with my admission of demographic obsolescence or my reverence for the hard work of MTV producers over the years? Well, your tenacity has earned you a reward: my vision of youth news in the future. The youth of the industrialized world (Yes, all of them!) will have something akin to a Palm LifeDrive, with more of a tablet PC feel to it. On it, they will keep their schedules, music, games, etc., and will download all their news wirelessly via RSS feeds or whatever news collection technology the future brings with it onto the one-inch terabyte drive. Slide it all into their back pocket and off the kiddies will go, ready to face the world -€” or as much of it as can fit on a 2″ x 3″ screen.

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