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Monday, May 08, 2006

Burlington Free Press on MySpace

Today's front page, above the fold story is about MySpace. Headline on the web: 

"Computer social sites are attracting tons of teens but is it a good thing?"
Subhead: "MySpace hooks the teen demographic, worries some parents and principals."

I guess it's good that the daily is covering MySpace, though it really bugs me how the story plays up the dangers of internet predators and completely ignores whatever redeeming qualities social networking sites possess.

If parents are so concerned about their kids using MySpace, they ought to hop online, create their own accounts, and figure out how the hell it works so they can talk to their kids about it. Same goes for employers and professors. I think this fear-mongering discourages adults from trying to understand the sites' appeal. Which they should absolutely try to do.

UPDATE: One newspaper is trying a different approach. Spokane's daily Spokesman-Review created a profile for its paper months ago and has been using the site to network ever since. That's frickin' smart. Why didn't we think of that?

Publisher Ken Sands:

"The worst thing about journalism is that we're all so risk-averse that we're too damn afraid to try anything until it's proven because it might fail and we might look bad to our peers and our bosses," he told journalism.co.uk.

"That whole idea blows. We need to innovate the way hi-tech firms do. Google allows everyone to spend 20 per cent of their work week working on something experimental - some of their products are launched in beta, sometimes for years. We need to adopt this 'ready-fire-aim' approach instead of the ponderous 'ready-steady-aim-aim-aim... fire?' approach."

Amen, brother.

May 8, 2006 at 07:52 AM in Media/Keeping an eye on the competition | Permalink


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"MySpace" has lingered on the edge of being the new shark attacks/bird flu/mad cow for a while. They will say nothing positive in relation to it, and eventually the media will go after them full bore. They'll eventually have to shut down, dramatically change, or change their name.

Posted by: odum | May 8, 2006 9:24:49 AM

Now that Rupert Murdoch owns MySpace, I have a feeling it will be co-opted in an effort to market more crap to young people. I also find it interesting that an article focusing on on-line predators is paired with a somewhat revealing photograph of an 18 year old.

Posted by: jwilson | May 8, 2006 10:12:26 AM

I second what Jess said and I'll add that as long as there's a revenue stream from advertisements, MySpace will continue along just fine, regardless of the bad press. The internet itself went through (and continues to go through) an "OMG there are sexual predators using the internet to find prey!" phase and I'm pretty sure the internet is not going away despite the fear mongering.

I think the end of MySpace will come when a better (read: more sophisticated) alternative comes along. As it is, MySpace is "blogging lite" and the kids who are using it now will become much more net-savvy and want more sophisticated tools for self-expression and networking.

The reason the press isn't saying anything positive about MySpace (aside from the "if it bleeds it leads" mentality) is because the traditional media is mostly run by old people (like me!) and they (generally) just don't get it because they don't use it the same way. They can't write accurately about what they don't understand.

Posted by: Bill Simmon | May 8, 2006 1:54:09 PM

Bill, you're not old. Under 40 is not old.

Otherwise I agree with you. And it frustrates me. I think the whole "I'm too old to use the internet" thing is such a cop out. I think that's one of the things I'm gonna talk about tomorrow at the Champlain panel.

Posted by: cresmer | May 8, 2006 2:29:24 PM

As a father of twin 14 year old girls, THE number one target of sexual predators, there IS big reason to be concerned and I didn't need ABC's Nightline to tell me that. I try to stay on top of what they are doing. There is no such thing as bad press for a site like this. The worse the press is, the more teens will flock to it. Perhaps that is how a media mogul like Murdock is building his brand.

Bottom line is, make sure you know what your kids are doing on line. Me? I use spyware. I don't like taking chances, and I make no apologies.

Posted by: Greg Henry | May 9, 2006 6:55:24 AM

Bottom line is, make sure you know what your kids are doing on line.

Yes, yes and yes. Being involved with your kids lives is the best defense against trouble for sure. In the case of MySpace (and as Cathy so eloquently said at today's Leadership Champlain panel), parents should sign up for and have MySpace accounts of their own. Learn to use the internet in similar ways as their kids. Become net savvy enough to carry on intelligent conversations with their kids and their kids' friends about what's online. As scary as it is, the internet is way more fun and cool and useful.

Greg, I assume by "spyware" you mean you're spying on your kids' online activities? No need to apologize--they're your kids. I guess that's one way to protect them, but I know if my mom started spying on me when I was 14 in order to "protect" me, I would have hated her for it. I'm sure I'm not saying anything you haven't considered, but isn't arming them with information enough to make responsible decisions (and mistakes) on their own a better model? Besides, they're 14 and you're old (like me). They probably have the technology figured out way more than you. :)

Posted by: Bill Simmon | May 9, 2006 5:32:39 PM

Were do i find some new MS layouts?


Posted by: Steve L. | May 21, 2006 3:00:25 PM

I think that maybe people should also think of the responsible people on myspace. I have myspace and I love it. I don't post naked pictures of myself on my site. You can report it if something is going on that shouldn't be. These teens shouldn't be talking to people that they don't know. I am 19 and I only have people that I know on mine. Instead of cutting myspace off completly and ruining all the work that tom has put into it and the fun that the responsible people have!!!!!!!

Posted by: Krystal | May 23, 2006 1:44:20 PM

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