MySpace v FaceBook

Danah Boyd is an ethnographer who’s done a great deal of work on teenage use of the internet in the USA. Her work is absolutely fascinating and I think every writer of Young Adult books should be reading it.

She recently gave a talk about race and class in the MySpace v FaceBook divide. You all need to read it, like, NOW:

If you are trying to connect with the public, where you go online matters. If you choose to make Facebook your platform for civic activity, you are implicitly suggesting that a specific class of people is more worth your time and attention than others. Of course, splitting your attention can also be costly and doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be reaching everyone anyhow. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. The key to developing a social media strategy is to understand who you’re reaching and who you’re not and make certain that your perspective is accounting for said choices. Understand your biases and work to counter them.

While on tour last year I was sent to a number of very poor schools. At those schools the vast majority of students did not have access to a computer at home, let alone a computer of their own. They were able to use computers at school and at the library. At the poorer schools I visited I was asked if I was on myspace; at the wealthier schools they wanted to know if I was on facebook. I know that’s a small samples size—a handful of schools in northern California, Ohio, and Michigan—but it’s right in line with Danah’s research. I told them that it was better to get in touch with me via my website because a) while I have a myspace account I don’t use it and b) I don’t have a facebook one. Very few students contacted me and those who did were from the wealthier schools.

This year when I go on tour I will be giving the teens who want to contact me a business card with my email address and website on it. I know I’d have a better shot at communicating with them if I used my myspace account and joined facebook. First though I’m going to see if giving them a card works better than just telling them how to contact me.

I did not enjoy being on myspace. The walls around myspace and facebook freak me out much like walled communities offline do. I like having my blog where anyone can read it without having to log into a different space.1 I do not want to maintain multiple blogs and moderate multiple sets of comments.

Yet I want to be able to stay in touch with the wonderful students I meet on tour.

I’ll see if giving them cards works. If not I suspect I’ll have to suck it up and deal with myspace again.

How do you other authors deal with this? How many of you are on myspace and/or facebook?

How many of you having read Danah’s research would reconsider myspace?

  1. Part of what I like about Twitter is that you don’t have to join Twitter in order to read it. You can directly link to an interesting Tweet from anywhere. However, there are very few teenagers on Twitter. []


  1. David Moles on #

    maybe you should try twitter? it seems like about the time I settled in on facebook everybody moved over there. could be only the rich kids are on there, but hey, you could change that!

    (it doesn’t have as many built-in ways to cut your friends dead, though. so it might not appeal as much to teenagers…)

  2. Benjamin Solah on #

    I use a blog, Facebook, Twitter but rarely use MySpace. I write for adults mostly so maybe it doesn’t apply to me as much though.

    In Australia though, kids tend to use Bebo a lot too.

  3. Karen on #

    David, Justine is a twittering madwoman. She’s one of the main things I like about Twitter.

    That article is making some good points, especially as they apply to “developing a social media strategy” and trying to reach as many people as possible. But I’d be wary of summing up any of these sites as inherently one kind of atmosphere, especially for people who are using them less to network than to simply enjoy talking with friends.

    I’ve been twittering less and spending more time on Facebook lately, and for me it comes down to a combination of the people and the interface. I didn’t like Facebook at all until people from obscure parts of my life kept crawling out of the woodwork and finding me there, which turned out to be really neat: I’ve rediscovered a lot of old friends that way. Whereas many (not all, alas) of the people I was talking to on Twitter are over on Facebook too, so it’s easy to just talk to them there instead. I also like that the Facebook interface allows many people to carry on a long-running, low-maintenance conversation with each other. I know Twitter does too, but I like being able to read the whole conversation in one place on Facebook, rather than having to scroll around or retrace “reply to” tweets to follow who’s saying what. Matter of personal tastes, I guess.

    But again, I’m actively looking to talk with friends right now rather than reach out to strangers, so: different goals than what the article’s talking about. Surely it’s possible to have a presence on a variety of sites without putting too much effort into them? Even if it’s just a page that says basically, “You can find me over at my blog (link) if you want to come say hi!”

  4. Joey-la on #

    Hi Justine,
    I have Facebook, Myspace and Twitter, as well as a blog, but I find that I rarely use my Myspace and only ever go on Twitter to make sure that Maureen Johnson isn’t dead when she doesn’t blog for a month at a time.
    When I was younger (in primary school) I used myspace, becuase facebook was not as popular at the time and when I first signed up to facebook I found it extremely confusing, but now I find it easier and ‘better’ than myspace.
    I go to a rich school, but live in a more ‘normal’ area and grew up here and went to primary school here as well. so I suppose I have been exposed to both sides.
    hhmmm…. I don’t really know what I think. I have many friends who went to primary school with me and now go to high school in the same area, but use facebook…
    Why did Scott decide to have facebook?

    also, are you coming down to Australia for the Melbourne Writers Festival?

  5. Megan on #

    I read an article which supports what you say – that myspace is ore for emos/alternative kids and facebook is for more upper class, academic-type people.

    i’m on myspace but haven’t checked it for months. i use facebook almost hourly! however i think i’d make a different “author” account versus my personal one.

    i do think, with your fan problem, you might just have to suck it up and get a myspace/facebook.

    it will take up more time, but if you want to keep in contact with the studets i think thats the best way

  6. Diana Peterfreund on #

    I dislike both sites. I can’t for the life of me figure out what one does on Facebook. I have a page because I was tired of the constant “join me on Facebook!” messages you automatically receive whenever anyone tried to look you up by your email address, but all I’ve figured out how to do on it is accept friends. I’m not sure what one does on facebook that doesn’t already have a Real Internets corollary. You can send messages? Great — I’ve already got email. You can update your status? Great, I’ve already got twitter. You can put up information and pictures? I can imagine that’s quite nice for most folks, who don’t have websites. But I’ve got a website.

    MySpace was just impossible to use. the glitter and the animated gifs and the spamspamspamspamspam. It would crash my browser nine times out of ten, and I spent half my time while there going into the message section (where people post giant, slow loading animated glittery gifs to your website) and deleting all the constant inappropriate spam of people’s self-published erotica with the bare bottoms on the giant glittery animated gifs. Srsly. That was all I did. I didn’t think that was appropriate on my homepage and I had no ability to keep it off.

    So, facebook is boring and myspace was impossible, I don’t see the benefit to either, except there’s a certain segment of the population who ONLY reside in that corner of the internet. I can’t wrap my brain around it, personally. If they have email addresses, which they must to sign up to start with, why do they myspace/facebook message? If I can be found on google with a press of the button, why do they insist on only visiting my facebook page, which is so much less interesting?

    It’s the same reason I don’t get why my publisher is so gung ho about putting up an entirely separate website about me on their own page. Why all this decentralization?

  7. Marie Devers on #

    Wow. I think I am pretty with it, but it has never even occurred to me that there is a whole subsection of young people writers are not reaching–kids who (IMO) need to read, need to see that writers are people just like them (i.e., that they could grow up to be writers too).

    Thanks for blogging about this. You know, everybody likes getting mail. Do you think that some of these poorer students would actually write real, tangible letters if you provided them with a PO Box on your card?

  8. Ted Lemon on #

    I am a little bit impatient with Ms. Boyd’s conclusions. I don’t dispute her data, and I am not trying to say that she’s completely mistaken, but when she characterizes the divide between facebook and myspace as a class divide, I think she’s reaching for a too-easy explanation.

    The difference between facebook and myspace is that on facebook, by default people can’t see your page, and on myspace, by default they can. So if you want attention from strangers, you’re better off with a myspace page than a facebook page. And if you don’t want attention from strangers, you’re better off on facebook.

    The other differences, like the ability to customize your myspace page, are significant, but I think the difference in exposure/reachability is the main thing.

    So I think Ms. Boyd’s conclusion that MySpace isn’t dying is probably correct, because it presents a different value proposition. And I think her advice about considering carefully before choosing only one of the two is good advice. But I think drawing a race/class distinction is going too far, at least based on my personal experience (that is, who I know on MySpace versus who I know on Facebook).

    That said, I haven’t visited my MySpace page in over a year. Most of the people who friended me on MySpace are also my friends on Facebook, and Facebook is just way more convenient, for me. I don’t have time to hack my MySpace page to make it look cool, and by default it looks pretty stupid. I never had a problem with people hassling me on MySpace, but I never benefited from strangers finding me there either.

    In response to Ms. Peterfreund, the attraction for me of Facebook is that it’s like sitting in a cafe with a group of friends, each working on our own thing. Every so often, someone says something, and there’s a brief conversation. They might say something about what they are doing, and I might realize that I can help them, or that they can help me, or they might just make an offhand remark.

    But that’s the point of it – it’s not really social networking so much as it is socializing. If you don’t have a critical mass of peeps on facebook, it won’t feel like this to you, and it will seem pointless. That’s how facebook was for me for about the first six months or so. I don’t know if it was strictly worth it – it’s easy to get distracted by it and start paying more attention to it than to what you’re actually trying to do, particularly if you have a lot of friends who post frequently.

    But I really have enjoyed being able to be in touch with so many people that I’ve known in my life, many of whom I hadn’t seen or heard from in years before I joined facebook. It feels like we’re in touch by virtue of our occasional status updates even if we don’t converse directly, and that seems like a good thing to me at the moment.

  9. HWPetty on #

    I put off responding to this for a while to see if my thoughts on it would change, but they didn’t…

    1. I’ve got an account on MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, not because I’m a writer and I’m looking for a way to talk to my potential fanbase, or because I’m looking to network in a way that benefits my career. I’m on there because I like it.

    2. Most MySpace pages make my head ache. The flashing glitter makes me queasy, and since 90% of the general public has very little sense of graphic design, allowing people to craft their own backgrounds runs this very risk. But beyond that, MySpace just doesn’t seem very community-oriented to me. Also, the tools are kind of clunky and not very intuitive. Thus, it isn’t a place I check in very often.

    3. I like the community feel of FaceBook, and the ability to have fan pages and the like, but I hate the games and quizzes and all of that. Still, I spend more time on FB, because that’s where most of my friends and family are. I like that it crosses generations from young teens up to grandparents. I think that’s a true community-oriented place. It’s also intuitive and customizable without looking like an acid trip.

    4. Twitter is my Internetz Overlord because I’m busy, and Twitter is quick. Also, i like that Twitter isn’t about who follows you–it’s about who YOU follow. (I totally stole that from someone, by the way, but I can’t remember who… sadness.) There are no walls on Twitter. You can reply to anyone and follow any conversation. And for that? I LOVE.

    In the end, though, social networking isn’t about targeting a demographic or selling a product (or perhaps I should say that it SHOULDN’T be about that). It’s about being SOCIAL.

    I hang out where I like to hang out. The fact that I can also share info about my newly emerging career and keep in touch with potential fans is icing.

    The problem comes, I think, when people go into FB, MS, or Twitter thinking only of what the tools and communities can do for THEM… not what THEY can do for the communities. Those people are completely missing the point, in my (never humble) opinion.

    My advice? In social networking, do what comes naturally. If you’re only there to bolster your product or career, the kids/fans will know it and run from you. If you’re forcing yourself to do it, you’re wasting your time.

  10. Carissa Thorp on #

    Re your footnote, your own Facebook can be set to be pretty much as open as Twitter via the privacy settings. Then with the Twitter application for Facebook you can update your Facebook with Twitter, and using Facebook’s RSS import you can feed your blog posts into Facebook; all this without having to visit Facebook except to set these things up. Only when you replied to people who send you messages or post on your wall (for which you can receive email notifications) would you have to go to Facebook. As an author you can also set up a Fan page, which I’m unfamiliar with the workings of, but which might be more suitable.
    I really couldn’t get into Facebook, but most of my friends and family use it, so I had to use it too. You get used to it, and with some “tweaks”, I’ve made it work for me. Given Danah’s research, if I was a published author, I would reconsider a presence on MySpace, but I’d hope there were ways to “tweak” it like you can Facebook.

  11. Adreana on #

    I have both an active myspace and facebook, and I would say that my school is considerably wealthy, but I don’t think that really effects anything. Most students at my school-including the richest ones-have a myspace. However, my friends and I much prefer facebook. It’s less boring, and since we’re all pretty…wordy, we don’t appreciate myspace’s character limit on updates. Also, we feel like it’s easier to blog and reach people on facebook, because you can directly get the website to email friends of your choice whenever you post something new.

    I have a lot of friends that go to schools in Brooklyn, and in urban schools Myspace does seem to be more popular. Although this makes no sense, because both websites are entirely free, facebook often seems posh and “white” to some people. I disagree, and this viewpoint only seems to be shared by certain groups.

    Um…in conclusion, I use both websites, and as a whole, my school doesn’t really have a general preference. Mostly everyone at my school has both a myspace and facebook. 😀

  12. Carrie Jones on #

    I am a writer and I’ve found there’s also a regional component to the Facebook/Myspace divide.

    I live in a rural, poor part of Maine, and pretty much every kid in the middle school and high school are on Facebook, not Myspace. When I go to other rural Maine schools I find that I tend to be contacted by the kids at my website the most, via email.

    But what I also find is that most of the kids at rural, poor Maine schools are on Facebook, and I think it’s a regional cluster-type thing for Northern Maine rather than an economic class division. I think that it’s like cliques and it tends to separate by high schools.

    I’m also wondering how much the data for her article has already changed. Social networking trends change so quickly. I know that about two years ago all my contacts with readers were through Myspace. Then over the last year it shifted pretty dramatically.

    Right now, I think I’m equally contacted thru Facebook and Myspace by kids I don’t know. I interact with them more on Facebook, and on my own email, and like everyone else I am on Facebook more often than Myspace.

    I have it so Twitter feeds into my Facebook page, and so that my Livejournal blog appears on my website, on Amazon and on Livejournal.

    I don’t know if that helped at all.

    *Part of the reason why I get frustrated with Myspace is that sometimes people send me really nice messages and I can’t respond back to them because I’m not officially their ‘friend’ and then I feel like I’m blowing them off. That just kills me. It puts a great big pit in my stomach.

  13. Jennifer on #

    I am so bored of social networking. What Diana said applies to me too. I have the token Facebook page that I do nothing on and I don’t care, I avoid MySpace because it sucks and an ex is on it and I don’t want to deal with the “friending” drama there that would happen if I showed up on it. I got bored of the whole thing after 2 days, and the only one I actually use is Ravelry because I go look up patterns on that. I don’t WANT to participate and post messages about what I had for lunch, because it’s boring and who cares? Why are these things so much better than original webpages and e-mail that I can do whatever I want on again?

    I know I am going to have to suck it up and do self-promotion and crap on all the social networking sites, and get a Twitter (I’m sorry, I don’t get why 140 characters is soooooooo fantastic either, whatever happened to paragraphs?) eventually, but I want to barf at the idea of doing it and I keep putting it off.

  14. Justine on #

    Carrie Jones: Part of the reason why I get frustrated with Myspace is that sometimes people send me really nice messages and I can’t respond back to them because I’m not officially their ‘friend’ and then I feel like I’m blowing them off. That just kills me. It puts a great big pit in my stomach.

    That’s exactly it. I love being able to respond to questions and comments from readers. So the whole structure of friends and following is just awful. I hate the idea that I might be inadvertantly dissing someone!

    That’s part of why Twitter works better. People can directly write to me and I can respond outside the following apparatus.

  15. lily on #

    purely from personal observation, i’d say here in the UK it seems like bands and musicians use myspace, and everyone else uses facebook. myspace is for getting yourself known as a musician (its how lily allen got famous) while facebook is more for keeping in touch with people. Pretty much everyone i know has a facebook account (i’m still holding out – its practically a matter of principle) and it’s true that it’s absolutely cross-generational. I know lots of people who no longer like to update it because they know their parents are on it, and also parents who are using it to check on what their kids are doing. What happened to teenage diaries hidden in underwear drawers, eh..?

  16. Julia Rios on #

    I’ve had a MySpace account with nothing on it since 2006. I signed up one night because a new friend asked me to, but then I couldn’t find his profile, and the whole site just seemed way too overwhelming. I’d been blogging for seven years already by then, so I figured I didn’t need a new site to do the same thing. This has convinced me I’m wrong, though.

    I went back and logged in today for the first time in years. Now I have a profile, which is actually a profile, and it links to my personal site. I’ve got a picture, a short musical playlist, and some random interests listed. I figure this way if people want to contact me through MySpace, they can. If not, no big deal. Setting my profile up wasn’t very hard, and the templates look a lot better now than I remember them looking three years ago.

  17. AMV on #

    The whole thing gives me a tummy ache.
    I love having a blog on livejournal, but don’t have time for anything else. My fb and myspace pages are totally neglected, and the thought of adding Twitter to the list of things I don’t update makes me just want to give up.
    I feel totally behind on the social network marketing front, and I’m not sure I want to catch up.

  18. Maria on #

    As a teen… prepare to be myspacified.

    The business cards will have a slightly higher success rate, I’d imagine, but they wouldn’t work even a quarter as well as Myspace and Facebook.

    Here’s why:

    A business card is not within a teens reals pf reality. We don’t think about them, don’t use them, and only barely know what do do with one if it’s handed to us. Nine out of ten times, it’s shoved in a pocket where it’s forgotten, goes through the wash, and is illegible ever after.

    Even if the teen planned to check out the website (which is unlikely; remembering to do so is even less likely) they are then no longer able to. And the wash scenario is not far fetched at all. I do it ALL THE TIME, as do almost all my friends. “Hey do you have ______, I put it through the wash…” is a phrase I hear about once a day if not more.

    Myspace and facebook, OTOH, are not something that’ll be forgotten. Why? They’ll go home, log in – because it’s what they’d do anyway & requires no deviation from the routine – and remember that cool author they met at school. Since they’re already there, it’s just a click and they can friend you. Then you need to accept – and so when you do, they’ll be reminded AGAIN & possibly contact you because hey, cool – an author accepted my friend request!

    It’s all about the routine. If you can fit into people’s daily routine, especially with teens, you are far more likely to have follow through than if they have to go out of their way to have the privelage of saying hi. You’d need to have made a stellar impression for that, wheres a good/great one will suffice if you fit the routine.Business cards are NOT part of a teens routine, in any conceiveable way. Myspace and Facebook aren’t part of a routine, they ARE the routine.

    Just something to consider 🙂

  19. Julia on #

    I do not have a myspace, I do have a facebook, but I wish I didn’t. The only reason I ever got a facebook was because a friend of mine from out of state asked me if I had one, and then told me that I should get one. I don’t acctually go on that often. Most of my communication is by phone or email anyway.

    I go to a School where most people have laptops out during class supposedly taking notes, and mostly spending time on facebook. I think it mostly just offers a good distraction, people can talk to their friends and play online games at the same time.

  20. Ellen on #

    “Carrie Jones: Part of the reason why I get frustrated with Myspace is that sometimes people send me really nice messages and I can’t respond back to them because I’m not officially their ‘friend’ and then I feel like I’m blowing them off. That just kills me. It puts a great big pit in my stomach.

    That’s exactly it. I love being able to respond to questions and comments from readers. So the whole structure of friends and following is just awful. I hate the idea that I might be inadvertantly dissing someone!

    That’s part of why Twitter works better. People can directly write to me and I can respond outside the following apparatus.”

    Except Twitter has a similar problem, I think. You can @-reply to anyone, but you can only direct-message someone who is following you. So when I follow someone, and I get a direct-message from them thanking me for the follow or something, I usually can’t respond because they haven’t followed me back. I do like that the @-replies provoke so much conversation on Twitter. Just saying, it has some issues of its own too…

  21. Pär on #

    Good information to know. With authors having to do the bulk of their own marketing, knowing where your readers will be is essential.

    What I’m wrestling with now is whether to FB or Myspace under my pen name.

  22. lili on #

    We recently ran some focus groups with teenagers in Melbourne, and found that, in the last 18 months, Australian teens have migrated en masse from MySpace to Facebook. They told us that now they only use MySpace to find new music. They like the ease of Facebook, and they use it to share photos and videos with their friends. They like that it is a closed space, where you can only see someone’s page if they’ve approved you as a friend. I also read recently that’s why they don’t like Twitter, because you’re never sure who’s reading your tweets.

  23. Lauren McLaughlin on #

    I don’t know if this is true for Myspace but with Facebook you can have your blog automatically linked to it. I find now that I have a whole new audience for my blog because of Facebook. Plus I can peek in at all my old high school buddies and see what they’re up to. I haven’t touched my MySpace page since I opened it a few years ago.

  24. Cristina on #

    The article just blew my mind. It addresses differences I had noticed a while back, but that I hadn’t really analyzed. And if anything, it made me think about the reasons why I joined certain “social networking sites” over others.

    Back about 2-3 yrs ago when I was in High School –a definately not rich, yet not poor school with a culturally diverse student body– everyone had a Myspace. It wasn’t really a matter of choosing between Myspace or Facebook, because we just didn’t need to. But when I started college –in the same city my High School is in, and far faaar from the Ivy Leages– most of the students used Facebook.

    I have a Myspace account that I check because that’s where most of my friends are. I joined Facebook recently because thats where people I know from college are. And I have a twitter because that’s where most of the people, mainly writers, I like to know about are.

    BUT, I’ve joined another thing to stay in touch with friends from my secondary and primary years at my home country where yet another kind of networking site seems to be popular.

    I [who is technically a legal adult but whose age still comes in numbers ending on teen] didn’t need more than your name to find your blog. So I think the cards are a great idea. Your website and blog are the first things to appear on google, although it must be noted too that I also found your myspace [even though you dont use it] like on the first or second pages of results.

    I just tried googleing a bunch of YA authors and their myspaces are on the first or second pages of results –even if they don’t use them. Like, Maureen Johnson doesn’t check her myspace often, yet it appeared on the 3rd entry, and her Facebook which she does check, does not appear. [in fact the first Maureen Johnson Facebook that appears, is not even Maureen Johnson the writer, but some other person]

  25. Catie S on #

    I have a myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Live Journal and a few other things that I signed up for because a friend/author/artist suggested it. Twitter & Facebook are what I am currently on most. Myspace I haven’t been on much lately. Mostly I use myspace for entertainment purposes: bands, movies, authors, that kind of thing. Facebook has a much neater layout, & have lots of family & old friends on it. Twitter is more of an instant short burst of info for my short attention span. Live Journal is my newest thing, I’ll see what it gets used for. Anything else I signed up for once upon a time is never used/checked/updated.

    How other Authors deal with this:
    Richelle Mead, Rachel Caine & Lisa Mantchev all have websites, myspace, facebook, LJ’s, & Twitters.
    Cassandra Clare has a twitter, LJ, myspace & website.
    Melissa Marr has a twitter, website, LJ, Myspace, facebook & visits a fan forum quite often.
    I don’t know how they make it work but I have them all friended on sites or their pages bookmarked on my computer.

    I like networking I guess. Every site has something to offer.

    Sorry for the length, hope it made any sense.

  26. Kirsten on #

    What Ted (No. 8) wrote about the critical mass effect in Facebook mirrors my experience with livejournal. A friend of mine referred to it as an online-virtual-house party (with similar social rules to trip up the unwary internetiste) So while Diana P. is right to question to why anyone would “need” a social network site, anymore than they’d need a local bar or Club, the “want” is pretty obvious. Not that her experience with the consummate pain-in-the-ass-ery of both MySpace and FaceBook isn’t spot on.

    Maria’s post (No. 18) is why I have both a MySpace and Facebook account am learning to/coping with using them. There’s got to be Very Special Hell for their interface designers though…

  27. Kirsten on #

    I do not know why the comments software turned a number eight (Ted’s comment’s no.) into a smile-y face, but this is me glaring ineffectively at web 2.0 software. What? You have a cousin who’s a MySpace bot?

  28. Diana Peterfreund on #

    This is why the whole argument of “oh, they can one-click find you on Facebook/MySpace” doesn’t really work for me. They can one-click find me on choose-your-own-search-engine, too. It only works if they basically use the facebook/myspace page AS THEIR INTERNET BROWSER and never visit any other page that isn’t myspace or facebook. Am I really using the internet so very differently?

    I mean, on myspace at least, they have to go to other pages on the internet to find all those glittery animated gifs and backgrounds, so they must at least visit some kind of page that isn’t myspace.

    For instance, the other day, I got a facebook message from my aunt. To read it, I had to get it on my email, click through, sign into facebook, click through to the messages, and finally got to read it. If she’d just emailed me then THAT would have been one click. I just don’t get why I would go through all that work when I could have just read an email.

  29. Amber on #

    I agree with Maria that if you are looking for ways to connect with people, you have to find a way to be part of their routine. If for your readers that is facebook AND myspace, well, then there’s your answer.

    Personally, facebook I like it not, and I am beginning to heart myspace like whoa – but, as Lily and Lili both point out, I see it mostly as a way to hear musos and bands. I don’t have an account myself. Also, all the musos on there seem to have thirty million ‘friends’ whose only comments are ‘thanks for the add!!’ so I don’t know how meaningful that is. I have bought a lot of musos’ CDs because I heard them first on myspace. (well, truth be told, I usually heard one song of theirs on that crazy old-fashioned thing the RADIO, and then went to myspace to hear some more samples, and THEN bought the CD). I guess it feels more promotional than interactive, but less obviously promotional than a website – a sort of in-between.

    It would be interesting to see if there were a way to make myspace work the same for authors as it does for musos. Maybe authors, in the bit where musos usually put their tracks, could put videos of themselves doing madcap things such as, I don’t know, _eating soap_.

  30. Ted Lemon on #

    Diana, the difference is that I use facebook as a portal, whereas you reluctantly have a presence on it. So I don’t get email notifications from facebook – I just log on on a regular basis to see what’s up. I do it because it adds value for me, not to add value for someone else. Because your use pattern is completely different, it feels inconvenient to you, and rightly so.

    The only way facebook is going to feel useful to you is if you start really using it as your primary way of being in touch with some group of people you want to be in touch with. I’m not proposing that you do that, just saying that that’s what you’d have to do.

    From my side, I’m a long-time internet user, and spent probably ten blissful years using email without ever getting spammed, so whenever I get a spam message, it raises my blood pressure. So the ability to go into an environment where I never get spam is a real treat to me.

    My reaction to spam may be irrational, but it’s real for me. Personally I expect to see SMTP email fade out over time because it’s the wrong paradigm, and what facebook is doing is closer to the right paradigm. I’m sympathetic to your insistence that they can just use the real internet, but facebook succeeds because it actually provides a better user experience than the real internet. Integration makes life easier.

    Personally, my big concern for facebook is that all our data is out there, instead of in here on our home computers, and that puts us at the mercy of the people running facebook. But I don’t see anybody delivering the integration and user experience that facebook delivers in a package that puts my data under my control, so I’m afraid that for now at least we’re stuck with facebook. Best is the enemy of good enough.

  31. Diana Peterfreund on #

    I understand what you’re saying Ted: you use Facebook as your mail portal, like you might use outlook or Gmail. It’s just always up and your main browser window?

    I’m just not sure why, given it’s so limited — the only people who can contact you must do it through facebook and the only people you can contact must also do it through facebook. They’ve got to JOIN FACEBOOK. Facebook controls every aspect of their communication. And if they decide not to let you do facebook anymore htat’s it, that’s your whole chance to communicate. If I have email, I can have it through any company I want.

    Facebook controls the medium, the message, your abilityt o access it, and the level to which everyone you access and vice versa can see things about you — Which means that it’s so much more than email — it’s a whole relationship. I get biz emails all the time from someone I just want to exchange a few words with — I don’t need pictures of their dogs and cats and kids and links to their uncles and aunts and college friends. That’s getting WAY into their business and it’s letting them WAY into mine. I don’t understand what is the wrong paradigm about email at all, I must admit. The idea of having to have some really intimate relationship with every person who sends you an email seems like much more of the wrong paradigm to me.

    As for the spam, I get acres more spam on facebook — constant “being hit with snowballs” and “I’ve just turned you into a zombie” and “come be a fan of XYZ” — it’s endless. And there’s no way to filter it (as there is on regular email) if this person is your “friend” — kind of like those “friends” who send you constant chain mail.

  32. Carissa Thorp on #

    Diana (31), re Facebook and mixing business and personal, with a personal Facebook account you can set up separate “Lists” of friends eg, I have: family, extended family, friends, close friends, work. Then when you post photos etc, you decide which Lists can see those items. And I’m pretty sure there’s a way to reverse that and decide for yourself what you see from others.

    The thing is, Facebook’s user interface is terribly unintuitive; it took me a couple minutes to find where the Lists feature is so I could make sure I was using the correct name for it (I thought it was Groups). And it takes real digging to come across features like this in the first place.

    A Facebook “Page” (sometimes called a Fan Page) might be a more appropriate place to position yourself on Facebook for business. (Here’s Lois McMaster Bujold’s Page for reference)

    See, when someone on FB becomes your “fan” a message is sent out to all their friends that they’ve done so; something that would never happen if that fan simply visited your site or subscribed to your feed. This gets your name out to large groups of people who might never have heard of you before (eg: my sister has hundreds of FB friends). I also think that when a “fan” comments on your Page, their friends will be notified of this as well; yet another “blip” of your name in people’s attention-space.

    I’m not trying to convince anyone to use Facebook, just making people aware that if you HAVE to use Facebook, there’s ways to make it work for you.

  33. Nif on #

    Diana says, “As for the spam, I get acres more spam on facebook — constant “being hit with snowballs” and “I’ve just turned you into a zombie” and “come be a fan of XYZ” — it’s endless. And there’s no way to filter it (as there is on regular email) if this person is your “friend” — kind of like those “friends” who send you constant chain mail.”

    It is totally possible to turn that stuff off in your news feed. The problem is, you have to turn them off one at a time. I have a FB community of slightly under 200 people, and I do have to spend a certain amount of time “hiding” the notifications about quizzes and games and presents that irritate me. But in general I love the FB interface, so I don’t mind this inconvenience.

    I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I think it works for me because I’m using it to talk to communities of people whose lives overlap. The majority of my FB friends have a dozen (or dozens!) of friends in common with me. And most of them are real friends, or at least acquaintances I see on a regular basis. This keeps the conversation lively.

    As a bookstore manager, I’ve had FB conversations that have led directly to book purchases for the store, and others that have led directly to sales. For customers who are also friends who spend a lot of time of FB, Facebook is often the fastest way to contact them, and all I have to remember is their name. No hunting for phone numbers or email addresses. We’re still experimenting with using the store’s FB page to promote the store and keep in touch with customers.

  34. Joey (in SF Bay Area) on #

    I started using LiveJournal when I was between ISPs and had previously put up the occasional blog on my own site. Plus the social networking aspect was great. Never did go back doing my own blog.

    Never signed up for MySpace but still go there for the musicians and their music.

    Joined Facebook when a friend put up a fan page for another friend, but didn’t really use it until the iPhone app came into being.

    Have resisted Twitter thus far.

    Thanks for this post and the link. Fascinating.

  35. StarSpangled/Holly-wa on #

    On Twitter:
    Although Twitter has a problem with their walled messaging, I wouldn’t really like just anyone to have the opportunity to DM me. I get quite a few dodgy followers ( Y’know, the kind that un-follow after a few days/ weeks, but when you look at their profile you see the Foul Owl ).
    I really like the @-reply thing, it’s good. Especially when you want to talk to someone who isn’t following you, maybe someone who you want to answer a question for that you saw on a trend etc.
    It’s also personal, but not too private. For example, I started following a follower of someone I followed. I started @-ing her, but since I didn’t know her offline, a DM would have seemed creepy.
    Personally, MySpace creeps me out. Bebo too. The dark layouts, the apps… It’s like being in the red-light district.
    Facebook is blue and white.

  36. StarSpangled/Holly-wa on #

    Another thing about Twitter is:
    If you posted something irrelevant( but kinda funny) on Twitter, you’d be normal.
    But if you posted the selfsame thing on Facebook or Myspace as a ‘status update’, you’d be seen as a slight loon.
    So, Twitter is where I can truly write whatever pops into my head :3
    Plus, the apps are WAY cooler. Like, has anyone seen the things?

  37. Michael Reed on #

    I recently set up a Facbook page, and what little I have seen of it isn’t very interesting. I have both a personal page on MySpace and a MySpace page for my music.

    As a musician who isn’t likely to make it big, MySpace is a great platform to be heard. I can allow people to hear my work and it’s free, I can promote myself as I see fit (and I don’t have any “glittery” or “animated” stuff so feel free to check me out!). I can basically give anyone a chance to experience what I do.

    On Facebook, I can talk about what I do, and as a musician, that’s not good when you aren’t known. I can’t feature my music aurally so it isn’t a great venue. And as it happens, I’ve found more of my friends on MySpace so far. I’m 39, so I’m against the norm, I suppose.

    For usage, I prefer MySpace. I like to control the look and feel of my site, and that’s a clear win for MySpace. For the above post that mentioned the “thanks for the add” messages, all I can say is that most of the people who like my work e-mail me through the site, and the other musicians who I befriended add a comment on the main page as it’s just common to do. I understand it may look strange.

    I technically opened a Twitter account very recently as a lark, but no one will really follow me. I think one other issue comes into play. MySpace was the “hot” thing, then Facebook, now Twitter has that “buzz”. When Facebook stops being “cool”, kids and the younger demographic move on, as well as the press covering the latest craze. Same with Twitter.

    Just as I am one of the people who still watches Survivor when others rush off to the latest “hot show”, I stick with what I like because, well, I like it. I like MySpace. I’m not in the 18-35 demos that change brands on a whim. I think that’s an important issue here. After the initial buzz is gone, you have to maintain a core group of loyal fans and cater to them.

    MySpace could really revolutionize musicians’ (and any entertainment position) ability for self marketing and needs to stop some of the discourse about it being “so yesterday.” All I can do is point you to my page, hope you like my work and consider purchasing it, and enjoy what I do. That’s all.

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