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danah boyd on MySpace - "In MySpace, comments are a form of cultural currency."
posted by tellurian (77 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
"Of course, not all teens are using the site, either because they refuse to participate in the teen fad or because they have been banned from participating."

That seems to be to be a very strange comment. MySpace isn't really that ubiquitous, is it? It's like saying "not all teens ride skateboards, because they refuse to participate in the teen fad or because they have been banned from participating". Maybe they just have better things to do. Maybe they've never heard of it. Maybe they'd rather use LiveJournal. Maybe they don't have internet access.
posted by Jimbob at 7:56 PM on March 8, 2006


From a user-interface standpoint, MySpace is one of the most awkward and frustrating websites I've ever had the misfortune to come across. I wish I could comment on the social aspects referenced in the article, but damn. Technically speaking, the site is a trainwreck.
posted by S.C. at 8:02 PM on March 8, 2006


I dunno how ubiquitous it is. My niece (14), has no internet access at home. The first thing she does if she asks to use our broadband is check about 20 MySpace pages. How does she have so much knowledge of it without regular internet access? I mean sure, she can see it at our house and grandma's house and school, but I'm surprised by how many people she knows on MySpace just from that limited bit of surfing. So I'm guessing MySpace is a pretty active conversational topic with her crowd.

I also wonder if it's a problem (for her and her peer group) that she can't have her own.

I also find the "OMG, predators are using MySpace to eat our children!" stories on the news to be really stupid. Kids have much, much more to fear from their friends and relatives than they do strangers that find them via MySpace.
posted by teece at 8:03 PM on March 8, 2006


No kidding, S.C.... I don't understand how it's become so popular despite its clunkiness...
posted by brundlefly at 8:07 PM on March 8, 2006


From a user-interface standpoint, MySpace is one of the most awkward and frustrating websites I've ever had the misfortune to come across.

You can say that again. I just went through my webalizer logs to see who it was that was hot-linking a certain image I had up. A good chunk of the hot links came from kids posting stuff on MySpace. The web design standards there are, um, interesting. It gives me flashbacks to 1996 and GeoCities.
posted by teece at 8:09 PM on March 8, 2006


Maybe it's wrong to judge people by their MySpace profiles but...

... it does appear that the average MySpace user's IQ struggles to reach double figures.

We we ever that young? That fricken' shallow?

I guess we must have been.
posted by unSane at 8:21 PM on March 8, 2006


Jimbob, I can't tell your age from your interesting profile pic. I'm 19, and MySpace was easily that popular at my rural high school. Now that I'm in college, most people still have their old MySpace accounts, but the primary focus is on Facebook.
posted by booksandlibretti at 8:23 PM on March 8, 2006


In MySpace, no one can hear you.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:27 PM on March 8, 2006


Fuck MySpace.

Ooo, wait, nevermind. Throbbing Gristle just accepted my offer of friendship. *swoon*
posted by loquacious at 8:31 PM on March 8, 2006


the site is certainly very popular with the younger crowd, but that may change soon because of all the attention it has been getting and the steady influx of "older" people. I have an account there, but it is mainly so I can keep in some sort of contact with my much younger sisters, yeah the interface is bleh, and yeah kids have more to worry about known people than myspace scum, however I couldn't help but reflect that the vivid advertising that myspace displays just plays into the self image troubles that young girls are prone to. Hell when ever I visit that slum it is to a chorus of underwear, tight jean butts of young women in ads. The danger is over hyped and parents bear some amount of parental control responsibility, but good grief it's almost like there is a tacit encouragement of hypersexuality display, which is appropriate in appropriate spaces, perhaps not there though... anyway enough of that for now.
posted by edgeways at 8:34 PM on March 8, 2006


MySpace isn't really that ubiquitous, is it?

It sure is. I taught high school for several years, and dozens of my former students (my profile seems to be undergoing "routine maintainence" at the moment, so I can't quote an actual figure) have found me on there. All of those people are now aged 18-22 or so, have a crapton of "MySpace friends" around their own age and seem to be on MySpace religiously. I really wasn't expecting that when I created my profile for the purpose of keeping in touch with friends in another part of the country, and had some details on my page that I really didn't care for my former students to know about. Said details have been removed in the event (unlikely now that I've disabled the ability to search for me by name) that my current middle school students find my profile... may that day never happen.
posted by the_bone at 8:35 PM on March 8, 2006


Gen Y and new narratives (ask.mefi)
posted by shoepal at 8:40 PM on March 8, 2006


I'm 26 and have a myspace page, but (possibly as someone who is on the cusp between gen x and gen y) I mostly don't get it. It seems terribly thought out, and aside from a few friends who I sort of reconnected with, it doesn't do much for me.

My band has a myspace page pretty much because people kept complaining that we didn't have one. We don't add anyone unless they add us though.
posted by drezdn at 8:44 PM on March 8, 2006


I never had a hard time at (high) school in the UK, despite being a complete nerd with tremendous acne, but five minutes on MySpace gives me the fucking heebie-jeebies. You can smell the social/sexual pressure. If I'd had to contend with that I don't know what I'd have done... run in the other direction I think. Horrible (to me).
posted by unSane at 8:44 PM on March 8, 2006


This article says that MySpace's clunkiness is a plus, because it encourages people to play around and customize all they want.

And I've got a 13-year-old nephew who keeps saying he wants "a MySpace" and looking at me pointedly. I ignore it, since I figure if he can't figure out how to get "a MySpace" on his own, then he's got no business posting anything to the internet at all.
posted by stefanie at 8:48 PM on March 8, 2006


mmm finally Fox News has a way to reach a young audience, thank you Ruport
posted by matimer at 8:56 PM on March 8, 2006


or should i say Tom?
posted by matimer at 8:56 PM on March 8, 2006


MySpace may be a bastion of junior high nonsense but I'll be damned if it isn't helpful in keeping track of some of the newer edges of left-field music out there...
posted by hototogisu at 8:57 PM on March 8, 2006


MySpace isn't really that ubiquitous, is it?

It sure seems to be. I took it as "given" that all the young whipper-snappers had myspace accounts, but it is the sheer number of people I know now in their late 20's/early 30's that has surprised me.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:57 PM on March 8, 2006


I swear I read somewhere that MySpace gets more hits per day than Google, but that could just have been some urban legend hyperbole. I have a MySpace account, but it is mostly to keep in touch with some friends. The interface is terrible, but it allows people to customize it however they want, which is why everything looks like a Geocities page.
posted by Falconetti at 9:04 PM on March 8, 2006


MySpace:The Web :: Kick:My Balls

I mean, I thought Friendster was threatening to dissapear beyond the Rothschild radius of bullshit... obviously I was experiencing a failure of imagination.

My esteem for a person drops the instant they mention they have a MySpace profile. It's like revealing in polite conversation that you have a particularly nasty, charmingly exotic, and rather permanent social disease which is most easy identified by smell. I don't say so, since my girlfriend would slap me, but I always think "Wow, I bet you regret the fuck out of that decision, hey?"

stefanie: MySpace is not popular for its functionality. It's popular because it was marketed relentlessly on a grass-roots level by the founder via the indie pop circuit in SoCal. Metcalfe's Law. Network effect.

*spits on ground*
posted by Coda at 9:05 PM on March 8, 2006


Wow, that came out bitter.

I guess there's a part of me which deeply wants to believe that crafting a good web site which works in most browsers, validates, works without Javascript or perfect vision, and doesn't resemble some Geocities wayback-machine populated excusively by people who take pictures of themselves using all the mid-90s "I have a webcam, but am ugly" tricks will actually develop a meaningful community and turn a decent buck.

MySpace flies in the face of all that. Actually, it shits in the face of all that, and it really brings home the fact that it doesn't matter a good goddamn what your web site looks like (or how it behaves) and long as everyone's there.

Ah well. gg MySpace.
posted by Coda at 9:18 PM on March 8, 2006


Whatever. Five years from now MySpace will be long forgotten, like Tribe, and Friendster and God only knows how many others.
posted by slatternus at 9:26 PM on March 8, 2006


My esteem for a person drops the instant they mention they have a MySpace profile. It's like revealing in polite conversation that you have a particularly nasty, charmingly exotic, and rather permanent social disease which is most easy identified by smell. I don't say so, since my girlfriend would slap me, but I always think "Wow, I bet you regret the fuck out of that decision, hey?"

No.

I found my 19 year old brother who I'd lost contact with 4 or 5 years ago there. "Where on the internet would I be if I was a 19 year old boy? Myspace!"
posted by birdie birdington at 9:32 PM on March 8, 2006


all you haters need not worry...

it won't be long before "the new MySpace" replaces "the new Friendster".
posted by pruner at 9:50 PM on March 8, 2006


Coda, MySpace works with most browsers.

Falconetti, MySpace is #5 on Alexa, Google is #3. Yahoo is #1.
posted by flaterik at 10:44 PM on March 8, 2006


Oh, Falconetti - MySpace doesn't get more hits than google, but it almost certainly pushes more bytes around.

I do think that MySpace does account for more bandwidth usage than any other site, but I can't back that assertion up.
posted by flaterik at 10:57 PM on March 8, 2006


I swear I read somewhere that MySpace gets more hits per day than Google

It's at the very beginning of the linked article in this FPP, Falconetti (which is a really interesting read from an anthropological perspective, no matter how much I think MySpace is a steaming pile of dung). I can't vouch for accuracy, though.
posted by teece at 11:07 PM on March 8, 2006


flaterik: We have different ideas of "works," then. I don't mean "if you squint you can see the content," or "just scroll about five yards to the right, it's there somewhere," I mean "works" as in "actually useful," not "doesn't literally break the user's monitor."

Or maybe it just looks that way in all browsers, I don't know. I can definitely tell you that an empty style element is not supposed to be the first line of an HTML document, those text labels probably aren't supposed to be sinking into the baseline, and HTML comments don't have three hyphens in a row. Also, passing session IDs in the URL is strictly junior high. I could go on, but there's a new episode of Channel Frederator to calm me down, which appears to be something I need to do.
posted by Coda at 11:18 PM on March 8, 2006


It's at the very beginning of the linked article in this FPP, Falconetti

For the record, I actually did read most of the article, but I skipped the Intro and skimmed some parts of it. /chagrin
posted by Falconetti at 11:35 PM on March 8, 2006


Well, by "works" I mean it's equally ugly in all browsers. And you'd be surprised how hard it is to make every make perfect, especially on a ColdFusion codebase. It's hard to convert that stuff under constant load, while remaining compatible with tens of millions of users' already entered content.

As far as session IDs... you'd think that was stupid. I thought it was stupid. But really, dealing with that level of load is much more different than other systems than you'd expect. Or, at least, it's more different than anyone I've talked to expected. I don't want to get into details, so I'll understand if you don't take my "no really, trust me" as a sufficient argument.

I probably shouldn't be having this conversation at all, actually.
posted by flaterik at 11:39 PM on March 8, 2006


The internet, nay, the world, would be a better place if MySpace fucked off and died in a corner.
posted by Orange Goblin at 12:45 AM on March 9, 2006


Gotta say, Orange Goblin, that I doubt the world would. Of course, I have a MySpace profile, so, what do I know?
posted by cgc373 at 1:03 AM on March 9, 2006


durr, "make every make perfect"->"make every page perfect"
posted by flaterik at 1:29 AM on March 9, 2006


Danah Boyd
posted by Dreamghost at 1:44 AM on March 9, 2006


Danah Boyd
posted by Dreamghost

Check her blog dreamGhost.
posted by tellurian at 4:17 AM on March 9, 2006


I suppose there might be somebody out there for whom the paper's observations might be novel or insightful, but I'm not sure who that might be.

I'm glad it went over well for her though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:55 AM on March 9, 2006


I have a real suspicion that if myspace were nice and clean and well implemented and somewhat standards compliant, people wouldn't like it as much. Being all awful and fucked up lets them off the hook for their own pages. It feels more human and lived in.
posted by joegester at 5:09 AM on March 9, 2006


Adolescence is an awkward place where you try to make friends.

MySpace is an awkward place where you try to make friends.

Its cruftiness isn't a bug. It's a feature.
posted by sacre_bleu at 5:17 AM on March 9, 2006


I find all the MySpace negativity pretty interesting. I'm 34 and use it frequently. Who am I talking to on there? Oh noes it must be little childrens!!!

Um, no. A lot of 20 and 30 somethings use it. Some are just people I know in real life while the rest are people I know in the 'underground experimental music scene'. No one really likes the interface or some of the retards on there but it's convenient in a way that email and IM's aren't. Very good for networking.

I can't believe I'm defending MySpace.
posted by melt away at 5:35 AM on March 9, 2006


Also, a long-lost childhood friend found me on there and it turns out we live a few miles from each other. That makes the site's downsides worth it to me.
posted by melt away at 5:36 AM on March 9, 2006


Do you think that some geezers in a newgroup on usenet had the same discussion about metafilter at some point?
posted by srboisvert at 5:37 AM on March 9, 2006


arrrrgh...must poofread....
posted by srboisvert at 5:38 AM on March 9, 2006


I tried to read the article, and then realized my hate doesn't need reenforcement, so I stopped.
posted by jon_kill at 5:45 AM on March 9, 2006


The MySpace apologists/users here are an eyeopener for me. MySpace doesn't have the same sway that a basic MSN account has (after an anecdotal survey with my daughter indicates) here in Australia. Interesting nonetheless.
posted by tellurian at 6:07 AM on March 9, 2006


I can remember back in, oh '92/'93 when I used to "chat" on the local "BBS" and download "warez": how relentlessly I was made fun of by my older sister as a computer nerd. I guess the whole world's gone nerd now.
posted by iamck at 6:14 AM on March 9, 2006


Forgive the selflink, but here's a sampling of 30k myspace users and their login frequency. 85% check back within 5 days.
posted by bhance at 6:27 AM on March 9, 2006


What annoys me most about myspace is that it isn't a good 'web citizen' in that it tries to replace already better-working services with its own internal knockoffs. Blogging is better done by Livejournal and Blogger, yet there's no automatic place to put a link to one's blog in your profile. Same goes for mail (email - d'uh) and IM (did they ever get that working?)

That's why I like LiveJournal's philosophy better, they know what they are there for and dont' try and trap their users in a sandbox.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:32 AM on March 9, 2006


I'll tell you what I find more interesting than Myspace: the negative stand against it from a good number of comments in this thread, around the web, and in face to face conversations people are taking it (and even on myspace itself! ("Myspace is really gay, but..." or "I can't believe I have lowered myself to participate here, but...")

If someone isn't slightly for it (in terms of the "yeah, it is clunky, but I have found x number of old friends/family there, so I can put up with its shortcomings" - the camp I would fall into), it is pure vitriol; from this thread alone, we have people saying that Myspace users are shallow, unintelligent; that Myspace is culturally unimportant and that it will not last (most likely true, but never the less); and that Myspace (and possibly more important Myspace users) can either fuck off or go fuck themselves.

This points right back to Bourdieu's Distinction thesis (Cultural taste is nothing except distaste for the taste of others), and also is exactly what Heath and Ledger talk about in their book The Rebel Sell (which you should read if you have not, even if you don't agree with the hypothesis, it is interesting and well written), where they talk about rebellion against "mass society" as the main focus of countercultural movements.

Which (to me) is exactly what is happening with the "ANTIMYSPACE!!" movement that is happening, rightly or wrongly. I have a profile. I use it regularly, and it has aided tremendously in reconnecting with old friends and family members who have moved away and/or I had even forgotten about. I see its shortcomings, and I understand why people don't like it, and fully expect to see it die off a little with all of the attention it has been getting.
posted by Quartermass at 6:40 AM on March 9, 2006


I'm surprised johnmc hasn't shown up yet to tell all the myspace haters that they're only bitter because myspace is full of teenagers who have lots of friends, which you all obvviously didn't have back then or you wouldn't be so bitter now.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:53 AM on March 9, 2006


quartermass, re: rebel sell, do you mean "Nation of Rebels?" I've been meaning to read that for a while.
posted by drezdn at 7:27 AM on March 9, 2006


To me, the main thing of interest about MySpace is that it simply puts makes more people visible on the Internet. That's it. It's no different than all those people having a web site of their own, or a blog of their own, or a plan file of their own.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:45 AM on March 9, 2006


Cultural taste is nothing except distaste for the taste of others

It's so meta. But what's hipper then hating myspace? Answer - liking myspace, even though it's unhip!
posted by iamck at 8:24 AM on March 9, 2006


i added you all as friends
posted by poppo at 8:53 AM on March 9, 2006


Today's Boondocks. Ubiquity what?

posted by hypocritical ross at 8:54 AM on March 9, 2006


Myspace isn't my cup of tea, but I'm kinda surprised at the hate as well. It is a very good, and obviously popular, tool for letting technically unsophisticated users do "cool' stuff.

As I said above, I'm not surprised all the kids have it. I'm surprised at how many 20/30/40 year olds have it, and USE it.

People that read sites like Metafilter often forget they are (typically) the elite. Most often the elite of the elite, as it pertains to internet and technical knowledge.

There are still 10's of millions of people out there who use computers only for email and word processing. To them, this is new, cool, exciting, and unexpectedly beneficial.

The fact "we" all saw stuff like this back in '98 is besides the point.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:58 AM on March 9, 2006


The interface is hard to use, the coding is horrendous, the teenage exhibitionism is embarassing.

But if you are an independent musician, MySpace is very useful.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:16 AM on March 9, 2006




Now see, Quartermass, you should have done your thesis on My Space or Facebook. Then you'd be on all the morning shows.
posted by LarryC at 9:22 AM on March 9, 2006


Dissertation!
posted by Quartermass at 9:27 AM on March 9, 2006


all you haters are going in my top 8.
posted by carsonb at 9:29 AM on March 9, 2006


While I agree with those who are reminded of geocities back in the 90s, I think you're forgetting one crucial aspect: geocities sites never had both a music video and another song playing at the same time.
posted by borkencode at 10:05 AM on March 9, 2006


They could have worded that quote as

In MySpace, comments make you!
posted by Foosnark at 10:06 AM on March 9, 2006


Myspace is like the worst web design of 1996 coming back to attack us. The wannabe rappers spamming comments with their video embed are more annoying than anything.

I don't know how people put up with myspace. it crashes every single browser I've used on it (not always, but frequently)
posted by drstein at 10:12 AM on March 9, 2006


I also find the "OMG, predators are using MySpace to eat our children!" stories on the news to be really stupid. Kids have much, much more to fear from their friends and relatives than they do strangers that find them via MySpace.

Not exactly.

In every X families, there's a predator.

If you are NOT in one of those X families your chances of being abused go down to nil.
Go on mySpace and you're back in the 'possibiliy' realm.

Stastistics are not absolutes. They don't apply to individuals.
posted by HTuttle at 10:34 AM on March 9, 2006


This whole worst-web-design thing is stupid. Blame PimpMySpace.org, MySpaceDaddy.com, ProfileTweaks.com, etc. for giving the power to design websites to whoever wants it. Or if you want to narrow it down a little bit more, blame their glitter graphics sections.

Are you all looking exclusively at 15 year olds profiles or something? I use myspace regularly and most of the people I know on it either barely edit (read: "pimp out") their profile pages other than changing the color scheme (if even that).
posted by hypocritical ross at 10:44 AM on March 9, 2006


Oh - and by "the people I know on it," I mean the people in my "created digital public," of course. Thanks, Danah Boyd.
posted by hypocritical ross at 10:55 AM on March 9, 2006


Stastistics are not absolutes. They don't apply to individuals.

Yes, that's quite in line with what I was saying. If you're going to be sexually molested or killed, it has the highest probability of happening from a friend or family member. Next, an acquaintance or person in your life like a coach or a teacher. Next, a stranger on the street is a very, very distant third. Somewhere in the realm that statisticians would usually call probability zero is the possibility that you will be molested by someone you met on MySpace.

I know statistics just fine (and calculus-based probability even better, as it's funner), and what I said was entirely accurate from a risk-managment perspective. If you worry about your kids getting hurt, spend 1 minute telling them about personal info on MySpace. The rest of the time you need to look out for people they know.

The MySpace stories are hysteria -- MySpace predators are a non-issue. A little bit of education is all that is needed for teens, to avoid the extremely remote chance that some predator might contact them.

But that's not the picture you get from the "predators are eating our kids!" media stories on MySpace.
posted by teece at 11:04 AM on March 9, 2006


The kids are fighting back.

FONTANA, Calif. - A group of boys who posed as a 15-year-old girl for an Internet prank ended up helping police arrest a 48-year-old man who tried to meet the fictitious teenager for sex, authorities said.

The five boys had created a fake profile of a girl on MySpace.com — a social networking Web site — to cheer up a friend who had recently broken up with his girlfriend.

But soon, a man began sending messages to the “girl” and their conversations began to have sexual overtones, said Fontana police Sgt. William Megenney.

The man also sent the “girl” his picture and arranged to meet her at a public park. The boys went to the park and, when the man arrived, they called police.

posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:16 AM on March 9, 2006


MySpace may be a bastion of junior high nonsense but I'll be damned if it isn't helpful in keeping track of some of the newer edges of left-field music out there...

True. MySpace is hellish, but I know a hell of a lot of artists/bands who say it's pretty much essential to have a profile there - not just in terms of linking up with fans, but in terms of getting bookings, record company attention, etc., and I've found some great stuff there. Also, I know of music venues with profiles that basically read, 'Make us a friend (or whatever the terminology is) and we'll check out your music and get in touch if we want to give you a gig.'

Tee hee, Dreamghost. I like reading her research on this sort of stuff, but that insistence on being lower case is completely infuriating.
posted by jack_mo at 11:25 AM on March 9, 2006


Quartermass: You meant to say Heath and Potter, right?
posted by joedan at 12:36 PM on March 9, 2006


Right. My bad!
posted by Quartermass at 2:03 PM on March 9, 2006


testing...
posted by Dreamghost at 2:36 PM on March 9, 2006


FoxNews recognized it's pervasiveness into the demographic that is most cherished, but, they are starting to kill it with their readily apparent viral attempts and ads...the kids, they do wise up after a while, Mr. Murdoch.





PS- Not even MS SQL can save a CF frameworked site...fuck that is some piss-poor planning/coding.
posted by mrblondemang at 3:24 PM on March 9, 2006


MySpace may be a bastion of junior high nonsense but I'll be damned if it isn't helpful in keeping track of some of the newer edges of left-field music out there...

I'm also in agreement with the lovely and talented hototogisu. We've got a page and my favorite thing about it is the simply amazing music I've found, completely by accident. I love Scrabbel, Erika Elektra, and Fake P -- and Scout Klas is the girl I'd have like to have been at 17. Some of these folks I'd have probably encountered at one time or another, but certainly not most, and myspace adds another dimension: correspondence. Obviously, if I write a love letter to Prince I'm probably not going to get a reply from His Majesty, but I have written to all those I've mentioned above, and some friendships have resulted. And from that, perhaps collaboration...and so way leads on to way. (I dislike the interface too, for what it's worth, but I can live with it given the rewards.) Ultimately, it's free for everyone who can access a connection, so you'll get a tremendous range of taste and ability and activity -- but that's genuinely exciting to me.

I like Danah Boyd's paper (and her blog). She's right: for all the attention paid to them as consumers, status symbols, and objects of fear and desire, teens have very little space that's theirs to create and control. It's tiresome to see parents give their children no trust or agency and then rail against their mistakes in judgment: how on earth are they supposed to learn to be adults if every minute of their lives is controlled by someone else? There are kids doing idiotic things on MySpace, but there are also kids who are using it as a truly creative outlet and a way to connect with good friends. Perhaps if adults would stop pressing the big red PANIC button every time teens display some autonomy and self-directed interest, there'd be less of the former and more of the latter.
posted by melissa may at 5:24 PM on March 9, 2006


A 27 year old musician on MySpace - Mr Golden.
posted by tellurian at 6:14 PM on March 9, 2006


For the record, I agree completely with melissa may. I think MySpace is ugly from a web design standard, but that's not the point. The community is cool, even though I'm not a part of it. Cool communities without me? I guess they do exist.
posted by teece at 11:26 AM on March 10, 2006


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