News From The Woods - June 27, 2007

NEWS FROM THE WOODS

By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published June 27, 2007


"The MySpace Phenonomon"


These are the facts:

The U.S is 20th in the world broadband internet penetration.
Nintendo invested more than $140 million in R& D in 2002 alone.
47 million laptops were shipped worldwide last year.
The US Federal Government spent less than half as much on research and innovation in education.
There are 3,000 books published daily.
A week's worth of New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.
1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met online.
There are over 2.7 billion searches performed on Google each month.
The number of text messages sent and received every day exceeds the population of the planet.
There are over 106 million registered users of MySpace as of September 2006.
If MySpace were a country, it would be the 11th-largest in the world.
The average MySpace page is visited 30 times a day.

So, what's the deal about MySpace? Why and how has it become "the" web page to have on the net? Simply put - it's all in the numbers. In addition to the 100+ million profiles on MySpace, there are 2+ million groups registered, 2 million band profiles and 20 million blogs on MySpace. In terms of demographics 78% of site members are over 18 and under 40 and the male/female distinction is currently 51% male and 49% female.

But what is the real draw here?

MySpace is the largest online social networking portal on the web. I think that statement alone sums up why it has grown so big so fast. The key phrase here is "social networking portal". It's like having an instant personal access to all the friends you have established in the world. The site attracts about 220,000 new registrants daily. As each profiler scans the portal for friends, the list of friends grows exponentially more larger and wide spread every day. As an example my MySpace page has been up for over a year now. In the first few months I noticed a little activity, but as I monitor the progress lately (in the past month) all my numbers are shooting up through the roof. I attribute the rise to increased activity on my part. Lately I have been seeking out friends from my past that I have lost contact with and many of them have MySpace pages. Furthermore I have been "found" by former friends, aquaintences, and associates who had lost track of me. It is somewhat of a social phenonomon.

Six months ago I noticed a video clip I had posted when I first posted my page had been played almost 100 times. NOW, six months later, the clip has logged over 3400 plays. As my network of friends has widened, so has the number of plays of all mysongs and video clips. But it didn't start out that way. In the beginning I only had a few hits here and there on the video clip. Only in recent months has the interest in video clips strengthened. I think the reason for this is yet another web site called YouTube. YouTube first appeared on the web in early 2005, and it quickly gained popularity on MySpace due to MySpace users ability to embed YouTube videos in their MySpace profiles. Realising the competitive threat to the new MySpace Videos service, MySpace banned embedded YouTube videos from its user profiles. MySpace users widely protested the ban, prompting MySpace to lift the ban shortly thereafter. But since then, links from each embedded video on MySpace to the home pages of the video on YouTube have been blocked making it more difficult to find the same videos on YouTube's website. Since then YouTube has become one of the fastest-growing websites on the World Wide Web, outgrowing MySpace's reach according to Alexa Internet. In July 2006 several news organisations reported that YouTube had overtaken MySpace.

One of the coolest things about YouTube is that when you upload a song you are given a strip of html code which embeds a YouTube video clip wherever you want it. What this means simply is that I can now imbed a YouTube "window" on my own pages. When a visitor finds that page and clicks on the YouTube interface, the chosen video clips begins to stream off the YouTube server WITHOUT EVER LEAVING YOUR PAGE! It makes the personalization of your own pages appear so much more accessible. Visitors don't have to wait for a Windows Media or Real video clip to load and then start up an external viewer. Instead, the clips starts streaming a flash presentation of your clip instantaineously without leaving your page.

Since I have now embedded several video clips from YouTube in my MySpace page and in my own web site pages, traffic has increased even more. I believe this actually may be the start of a new model in communication between (for instance) bands and their fans. I hasten to point out here, however, the MySpace phenonomon ALSO makes it easier to subscribe to the seedier aspects of Internet use, such as stalking and pornography. While I am sure we will see an increase in these types of MySpace profiles, all you really have to do is remove or block them from your friends list, or don't click to ADD them as a friend in the first place. Many folks have already learned how to send pictures to include in your comments section. Many of these are plugs for band albums or sites, and there is already a certain amount of spam (someone is always selling something)- but you can still remove these comments from your site as well from your own administration page. You can even prevent anyone from adding ANY html script in a comment section.

One of the attractions of MySpace is the ability to maintain Groups. This feature allows a group of users to share a common page and message board. Groups can be created by anybody, and the moderator of the group can choose for anyone to join, or to approve or deny requests to join. i have seen many groups of interest to me personally, but so far have resisted the temptation to further complicate my Internet experience.

Another new MySpace feature is bulletins. Bulletins are posts that are posted on to a "bulletin board" for everyone on a MySpace user's friends list to see. Bulletins can be useful for notifying an entire, but usually a portion of the friends list (depending on how many friends are added), without resorting to messaging users individually. Some users choose to use Bulletins as a service for delivering chain messages about politics, religion, or anything else and sometimes these chain messages are considered threatening to the users, especially the ones that mention bad luck, death, or topics similar to that. They have also become the primary attack point for phishing. The problem with this feature, like so many others, is that many people abuse the feature, resulting in me logging on and finding a dozen bulletins advertising an upcoming gig for some band in another state or even another country. And... the more "friends" you have... the more bulletins you tend to collect. Fortunately, bulletins are deleted after ten days. But the list stays continuously full. I have even deleted some friends because of their incessant bulletins.

With a little general daily maintenence you can keep your MySpace page from becoming cluttered with spam and incidental graphics. Another new additon is the MySPace instant messenger (MySpaceIM) which uses one's MySpace account as a screen name. A MySpace user logs in to the client using the same e-mail associated with his or her MySpace account. Unlike other parts of MySpace, MySpaceIM is stand-alone software for Microsoft Windows. Users who use MySpaceIM get instant notification of new MySpace messages, friend requests, and comments. All of that without even opening up your Internet browser! Pretty slick!

And for all your readers out there who already have a MySpace page, we all know Tom! Tom (Anderson) is generally considered the founder of MySpace. So when you first register, you will discover that your very first friend to your MySpace community is good ol' Tom. I have even found MySpacce pages dedicated to some butchered version of Tom, like Smokin' Tom, Puppet Tom, Black Tom, Cartoon Tom, Trucker Tom, Kissin Tom, or Raghead Tom. There are SO many outrageous and funny MySpace pages out there that it's hard not to get addicted to just spending hours cruising through profiles.

So if you haven't yet discovered MySpace and you want to, just go to MySpace.com and build your own profile, then start cruising around and when you find a "friend", looks at their friends. Those friends in turn will have other friends, and so on and so on........ For starters I will be your friend. Build a profile and go to my MySpace page and click on "ADD TO FRIENDS" and you're on your way!

And to close off for now, I'll leave you with a couple more thought-provoking gems:

Predictions are that by 2013 a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computation capability of the human brain. By 2049 a $1,000 computer will exceed the computational capabilities of the human race.
It is estimated that 1.5 exabytes of unique new information will be generated worldwide this year. That's estimated to be more than in the previous 5,000 years. The amount of new technical information is doubling every two years. It is predicted to double every 72 hours by 2010.

And last but certainly not least...... my next column will be my 100th News From The Woods since I have gone online with these columns in July of 1995!

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