can’t see the forest

MySpace: The Final Frontier? Let My Profile Be.

So, I admit it. If I’m at the computer, which is a goodly portion of the time these days, I tend to check MySpace far more often than necessary. It’s usually hanging out in one of the ten to twenty Firefox windows I have open at any given moment. I’m always wondering who could have left a new comment or message in the last fifteen minutes, and, frankly, there’s only one way to find out. Excuse me for a moment. I’ll be right back.

Ahem…as I was saying: Although I was reluctant to do so (to say the least), I joined up and created a profile for myself back in July for two reasons: first because it offered an opportunity to keep up with faraway friends, and second because I thought MySpace to be a good venue in which to create a kind—any kind, really—of web presence for some of my more pop-oriented musical endeavors, for the benefit of friends if for no other tenable purpose. CLICK IT!! NOW!!! Just joking.

The idea of social networking via the Internet is, in my view, a realization of the awesome potential of this unprecedented global interactive medium. So is weblogging, for that matter. Everywhere you look you find warnings of the distancing nature of personal cyberinteraction (fancy—my spell check recognizes that word; I thought I’d just made it up) and many such admonitions are warranted, but those problems are all user-end as far as I can tell. It is up to the individual to self-regiment and to exercise appropriate discretion in these kinds of activities; the medium itself is almost wholly inert in this respect. MySpace is not cybercrack until the user becomes an abuser. Well, I wouldn’t know anything about that.

MyIssue with MySpace relates to the involvement of corporatocracy in general, and of News Corporation particularly, in the venture. To put it simply: I hate NewsCorporation. And I don’t like to hate. But I do. While this certainly hasn’t prevented me from logging in, it does give cause for serious thought about the ethics of advertising, regardless of who’s doing it. Let me see if I can expound in an unnecessarily verbose manner.

Membership in the MySpace ‘extended network’ is free, of no fiscal cost to the user. Operating costs (and goodness knows what else) are essentially paid for through advertisements and sweet deals…Google, for instance, just signed over about $900 million of its own fiat reserves for the right to park its search engine on every page.

So, in a sense, interaction via MySpace becomes like interaction in town. If I meet a friend at a bar or restaurant, I am surrounded in that environment by branding in all shapes and forms whether I’m conscious of it or not.

But if I invite a friend over for dinner in my own home, then I am at least somewhat in control of the display of capitalist decadence in the environment. It may only be affectation, since we could take that argument to depths limited only by our sanities. But it’s a matter of conscious choice, of ownership of one’s personal sphere.

In the environment of MySpace, it’s my contention that a person’s profile should be his or her castle. And, in fact, the restrictions on what quantity and quality of matter a user can place on his profile page are virtually nonexistent (to the dismay of browsing software everywhere) apart from considerations of common decency (against which I also could make an argument) and just one teensy stipulation: the advertisements must not be obscured, or off with your head it is.

The login and search areas of the site are very much “commons.” The placement of advertisements lamentably plays a key role in funding the operation, so, at least within the confines of this situation, I can’t have any serious objections to their presence in the highways and byways of the site. I’d like to tear down every billboard in my town, to be sure; but if I’m going to take advantage of MySpace at no cost, I must avoid utter hypocrisy.

When I see those annoying banners on my own profile page, though, I feel a bit violated. It’s like Budweiser hanging up a neon sign in my living room—I might slap one up and pull the chain to be “cool,” but shouldn’t I have a say in the matter? What I am proposing is that MurdochSpace could make a profound gesture of good faith and personal respect by allowing its users the choice not to include advertisements on their own profile pages. And when was the last time you clicked on one, anyway?

The issue may seem trivial, but I submit that the point is far from moot. This kind of invasion is to some degree highly personal, a final frontier of imposition. Since users have to access their profiles and those of others through certain common gateways, what would be the harm of allowing them the choice to keep TheirSpaces free of smut? Those are MyThoughts. What are yours?


6 Responses

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  1. Dr. V said, on 11/16/06 at 6:52 pm

    Hi Curt,

    Just noticed I had forgotten to add you to my blogroll…

    But I have now remedied to this unforgivable ignorance!


  2. Curtis said, on 11/16/06 at 9:49 pm

    Oh, it’s forgivable. Just not unforgettable.

    A mere jest. Mighty kind of you.

  3. peoplesgeography said, on 11/17/06 at 5:39 am

    MyWord, some good suggestions. I’ve avoided opening a profile on MySpace for the good reasons you’ve given, and share your distaste of the new corporate owner. But even casting aside Murdoch (yes, I’m sure many people would love to do that!), when I finally succumbed to opening a profile only this evening, it didn’t seem to be that user-friendly. Perhaps there’ll be a rival operator soon who will seek to imitate-but-improve upon My Space. Here’s hoping.

  4. Curtis said, on 11/17/06 at 12:44 pm

    No, it’s not very user-friendly. The servers always seem to be at maximum capacity, for one, and the whole interface is a little too spartan.

    You should send a friend request when you get up and going!

  5. Kade said, on 12/1/06 at 6:03 am

    Anyone else having bother with myspace or is it just my pc?
    Last couple of days it seems it wont let me download any song from anywhere.
    Anyone having same bother – or anyone how to sort it?

  6. Curtis said, on 12/1/06 at 12:46 pm

    Actually I was noticing over the past few days that it has been difficult to get a lot of the mp3s to play. I’m guessing it’s a technical issue with their servers. As if they don’t have enough money to upgrade…I mean, c’mon…

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