September 30, 2007
A Guide to Social Networking Sites

Social networking sites are changing the way we interact with our peers. The National School Board Association and Grunwald Associates LLC released a recent study about how "teens and tweens are creating content and connections online." They reported that 96% of students with Internet access use social networking technologies.

While it may seem that Social Networking Sites (SNS) seem to be vulnerable to the next new site, we can't deny that MySpace and are here to stay.

What are the characteristics of a good SNS? What are some of the key differences between them? How are the good sites holding the interest of its users?

I thought the best way to answer these questions was to create profiles for three popular sites, Friendster, Facebook and MySpace. I wrote a mock user profile from the position that I was the actual site I was writing the profile for.

About Me: I was the original Social Networking Site (SNS). I have lots of technical problems as can be expected with a pioneer. All of my friends are searchable through google.

Age: 33

Occupation: Computer Scientist

Favorite Books: Inspirational

Favorite Music: Top40, Oldies

Friendster is one of the original social networking sites. MySpace really took hold of the population that was originally using Friendster. One reason may have been that information about Friendster's users was made publicly available online. In addition MySpace became more popular because it allowed its users to upload music.

About Me: I am really popular. College students love me.

Favorite Movies: Animal House

Favorite Books: The Wealth of Social Networks by Yochi Benkler

Favorite Quote: "You are beautiful. But no offense, he, he is the king. You are having pie and coffee with a living legend."-Old School

Facebook has doubled its users to 26million between September 2006 and May 2007. It was first popular among college students in the US when Facebook required you to have an email from an institution in its network. It later was available to high school students and now you can use any email address to join. Some of the key features are the ability to "poke" your friends, give gifts, and add video to your home page.


About Me: I'm creative. Check out the new look and format to my page!! J Check out the SouljaBoy video. I just posted-totally hot!

MySpace details:

College: None

Age: 18

Music: Amy Winehouse, Peter Bjorn and John, Beirut, Athlete, Feist, Sigur ROs, Willy Mason

Movies: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Me and You and Everyone We Know, Lost in Translation, Empire Records, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Quote: "Art is anything you can get away with" -Andy Warhol

Friend's Comment's:
Cool Song dude! Check out this band: _________

Friends: Tom Anderson

Who I'd like to meet: People with interesting profiles.

MySpace has over 200 million accounts as of September 2007. Many of its original users were originally on Friendster. Its users range in age but when Facebook required its users to be in college high school students were active users on MySpace. A key feature of MySpace is that allows musicians to upload up to four songs on their profile pages and the site allows users to change the appearance and layout of their profile page.

Future Outlook:

The point of this exercise was to better understand these social networking sites. We can't deny the popularity these sites are having. It isn't simply a fad. These sites transcend time and space, educational backgrounds, culture and language. Anyone with an email address can join and connect to other people.

We seem to be at the beginning of an era-where not only MySpace and Facebook will continue to reign, but also where new sites will allow us to have more game-like experiences. New SNS such as Cyworld and XuQa make social networking more game-like. Hopefully, we will see sites that also mimic a key characteristic of games such as being able to create multiple identities through one account.

Other sites abroad such as Bebo, Faceparty, and hi5 may become more popular in the US as more Facebook and MySpace users make more connections abroad through gaming or by meeting in various spaces on the Internet. I'll be tracking the innovative trends that emerge among these sites.



I add that MySpace seems to be saying "anything kitsch goes": superhero backgrounds, pop music, unicorns etc. And sex. Myspace is about booty too, and one can prowl, meaning one can look at anyone else's pictures and profile if they permit it. Thing is, all the media (music, slideshows, giant pictures) takes time to download and slows MySpace down.

MySpace has tried to have everything by providing music, video, lots of design potential. It even has a lame blog service. But MySpace has ended up being sort of a cesspool like suburban sprawl -- bowling alley here, ice cream shop there, not much sense to it.

FaceBook seems to have set out to keep things under control. There is no prowling, because one can't look at a profile that is not one's friend already. One can't post pictures or videos willy-nilly, but must keep them contained in specified areas.

FaceBook excels at interaction with the site itself. There are all those quizzes one can take, the compatibilities with other FaceBookers, the cute apps like Magnetic Words. FaceBook titillates with lots of cute things to do. I guess FaceBook is kitschy too, but instead of allowing users to import pop culture kitsch like MySpace does, FaceBook provides its own kitsch in the form of these apps. And since these are unique to FaceBook for now (as far as I know), one could maybe say that FaceBook is creating its own kitsch while MySpace is serving as a clearing house for others' kitcsh.


Elrond, interesting points. I guess you do have more control on the information you leave in your trail on Facebook, even if Facebook allows it to become even more precise than MySpace, through the "stalker crawl" or whatever other pejorative people put on it. You can block that, though, and what you will see is that most people don't mind sharing it. I have seen some people choose to lock down photo albums that were once public, as some pictures in Facebook that were originally taken by others of my friends have disappeared from my view eventually, if I am not also friends with those others.