MySpace spreads in new directions to stay ahead of Facebook
Newspapers' online sites include social network-style exchanges of views and criticisms in reader forums, comment sections at the end of articles and guest opinion columns. Ask students if they read these or ever contribute thoughts. How do such interactions strengthen a sense of community?
Although they're not personal friends, as on a social network, columnists, reviewers, editorial cartoonists and news bloggers often have a "voice" we recognize, respect and respond to. Ask for examples of favorite writers and features.
News about the Internet and other consumer technology appears in various sections, including those about business and lifestyle. Send class members on a search for coverage of interest in this area, or a report on any topic with ways to see or hear more online.
The world's largest social networking site, MySpace, has grown far past being merely "a place for friends." In addition to having 110 million active users, a year-old MySpace TV video site and localized portals in 24 counties, the four-year-old online company is creating original content that could widen its impact and visitor traffic.
MySpace now has a music label that signs emerging artists, forms partnerships with amateur filmmakers and develops video serials. Another fresh feature launched last month is MySpace Celebrity, a content guide described as "Hollywood's new homepage." It features news, gossip from People magazine's site, blogs, videos and an index of more than 300 legitimate celebs with profiles on MySpace -- such as Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears, Leonardo DiCaprio, Paris Hilton and Vince Vaughn. "We want MySpace users to connect with celebrities in the same way that they do with musicians," says co-founder Tom Anderson.
This week, the young company with young leaders started inviting outside software developers to create and test applications -- also called widgets -- that will let members jazz up MySpace pages. It's a response to the growth that rival Facebook has experienced with that "open-source" approach.
Daily visitors: MySpace has more page views than any other Web site in the world -- more than 1.3 billion a day -- although that figure dipped for the first time in December 2007.
MySpace exec says: "In only four years, MySpace has become the largest and most dynamic social platform in the world. This is a critical year in the evolution of the Internet and we'll be at the forefront." -- Amit Kapur, 26-year-old chief operating officer
Challenges ahead: An image problem persists because of unwanted friend requests, spam and sexually suggestive material. Those drawbacks drive away some users away, leading to the term "MySpace refugee."
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