MySpace, Your Space: Do You Want To Dance?
by Marjorie Dorfman

Outer, inner, wall or just plain "give me space," has been transmuted into yet another meaning in modern terms. It’s called MySpace. What is this phenomenon, why is it so popular and what does it want from us? Read on for some truth, if you have time and some room.

Social networking in this day and age translates into the Santa Monica-based interactive social networking website known by those in the know and otherwise as MySpace. Users submit their own personal data, which includes a network of friends, personal profiles, photos, blogs and even an internal search engine and email system. Although headquartered in California, the parent company is in The Big Apple, aka New York City. According to Alexa Internet, MySpace is currently the world’s sixth most popular English language website and the third most frequented site in the United States. More significantly, the term has oozed its way into the mainstream of pop culture, especially in English-speaking countries.

Maintaining a staff of some 300 people, MySpace reportedly attracts 230,000 new registrants every day! Founded in July of 2003, some say by Tom Anderson, Chris DeWolfe and a small team of programmers, the company was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in July of 2005. The corporate history and status of Tom Anderson as the founder of the company has been the subject of much debate in the last few years.

A typical MySpace profile contains two standard sections, one called "About Me" and the other, "Who I Would Like To Meet?" This is the new age lovelorn/personal column, with specific details about individual interests and preferences that range from race and religion to sexual orientation. MySpace allows for few surprises, as images can be easily uploaded that will appear on the main page, and the side of the user’s name on any comments or messages that transpire between correspondents.

The success of MySpace is perhaps due at least in part, to the amazing versatility it provides to a user. At his or her fingertips, profile pages can be customized by entering HTML and the general appearance of a page can be changed easily by entering CSS in a <style>…</style> element into one of the fields. This will override the page’s default style sheet and can be changed as frequently as the user’s mood. (This is the mood ring of the modern age, if you will.)

Features like bulletins and group message boards and other dynamics are open to everyone on a MySpace user’s list. Bulletins are convenient and can be used to notify an entire list of friends without resorting to messaging users individually. They can be on any subject and are deleted automatically after 10 days. Users can also share a common page and message board. Profiles may contain a general friends profile with the ability to add at least one favorite song to the picture. For musicians, up to four MP3 songs may be added, but they must be either the musician’s own creation or proof must be shown that the original copyright owner of the work has given permission to upload the music.

The music industry has been permanently altered by the MySpace phenomenon in many ways. Many barriers previously in place for the new musician trying to reach a potential audience have been removed. MySpace cuts out that annoying middleman, so to speak. One well-known band, The Arctic Monkeys, used the spam feature of MySpace to attract hundreds of new fans before signing up with Domino Records. Musicians can keep up to date with their gigs and investigate new bands from the comfort of their offices.

The MySpace phenomenon has so swept the field of online communications that the plan is to use it to enable AMBER alerts to help find missing children. The goal is noble, as MySpace works with several partners as well as with law enforcement to find ways to protect children from sex offenders. In partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, MySpace asks its subscribers to register using a valid email address. This allows law enforcement to hunt down possible Internet predators. In conjunction with the Sentinel Tech Holding Corporation, a new technology, Sentinel Safe, is being developed. It will allow the site to search state and federal databases and spot and delete those profiles of registered users who are sexual offenders.

In summation, MySpace is a phenomenon that has left an indelible mark on today’s computer-laced society. It represents new age convenience as well as the adaptability to help to hold at bay the darker aspects of the human condition. It’s future may not be completely clear, but there is no question that it can only be bright.

Did you know . . .

Copyright 2007