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2/24/2006

My Space

MSN printed an online article recently that shared a startling statistic...

"Just over 2 years old, My Space now has 2 1/2 times the traffic of Google."

To me reading the figure was a wake-up call that we (as libraries) need to take notice that among the younger set, Information is no longer the king of the Internet, social-networking IS!!

As I did my exploring on MySpace this past weekend, my "parent-side" emerged like a lion. Fortunately for me (and my momma-lion instinct) my girls are still too young to have "spaces" of their own, but I realize that this future is not too far off. So, after absorbing the initial shock of just how much personal information kids (and adults- yes, they use it too!) are putting out there, I calmed down a bit and began to approach the site from my information-seeking "Library-side."

From a social networking perspective, My Space is fascinating and clearly demonstrates that the today's youth have completely adopted the Internet as their third, second first (?) space or comfort zone. And although I may not share this same comfort zone level, I think libraries can't just ignore this change. What's inherent to this generation is comfort zone that although we may not quite be ready for, we need to at least be open to. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating that we automatically go out and start creating personal public profile spaces for our patrons on the web, nor do we use the thier ILS information to let them hook up with other patrons who circulation history points to common reading interests. But what I am saying is that this trend shouldn't be ignored by libaries, but rathered studied. After all these current My Space users are our future.

Along these same lines, Stephen Abram (yup, I know --this my second reference to SA this week) had a great post this past week about My Space as well and he makes a great point, "(Libraries) spend too much time focusing on Google and its ilk as a competitor or model" With stats like the one posted above, perhaps it's not Google we need to worry about driving traffic away from library resources, it's My Space instead. **stepping off my soapbox now**

BTW: If you haven't taken a look at My Space yet, do so... but just one word of caution, leave your parent-hat at the door. :)

PS: For a good short overview of the history of MySpace and what is it, see Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace

What are your thoughts on MySpace? Is it different if you have your "library hat" on?

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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

My "librarian hat" says it's still scary. But I see your point about being aware of it.

J. Magelaner said...

Speaking as a MySpace user, I love how easy it is to get in touch with people you know and connect with people you'd like to know. It can be dangerous if you're not careful with the information you give out, and I can't stress how important it is for parents to monitor their children's use of sites like this, but over all it's a fun place to post and read blogs, show off your favorite pictures, and connect with like-minded folks from just about everywhere. I know from my time in the computer lab that MySpace is huge with teens and adults, and I think it would be wonderful if the library could find a way to be a part of this growing trend.

Puneet Gupta said...

...couldn't agree with you more.
Building on, and foreseeing these emerging (or in same cases as you point out - already entrenched) trends - we built CourseCafe.com. A social bookmarking and collaboration Web 2.0 application to help with coursework related search/research, for students, faculty, and librarians.

TechnoLibrarian said...

My "librarian hat" is the only one I can wear, I'm not a parent. But I see too many kids coming into the library and using places like MySpace and BlackPlanet in a manner that puts them in danger. Falsifying thier age, putting up suggestive pictures, and offering far too much personal information. I'm a blogger and have been on the net since I was a freshman in college back when the 'net was young. The kids at my branch are far too reckless with these sites.

Unknown Librarian said...

this is a huge wake-up call but so many librarians are so risk adverse that it is going to take a lot to get past the negative press of MySpace. I really believe teens today have less boundries and expectations for privacy in their everyday life than in the past. As a librarian, I have to remind myself that we don't have to act in loco parentis. And we have an obligation to be relevant. Social networking is here to stay. I'm on the bandwagon, just have to figure out how to get the library to jump on too. The library as community forum is one of my goals, but we have to make our digital space as welcoming and functional as our physical space.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to learn more about what's meant by 'traffic' here... How do the numbers of unique visitors compare? It seems to me that google probably has many more unique visitors each day, even if myspace's visitors are hitting many pages within the site. And factor in gmail and adsense and the number of people who come into contact with google each day goes through the roof. Obviously social networking is a big deal and will continue to be, but I think this point about unique visitors is worth making.

Anonymous said...

why exactly does a library have to figure out how to jump on board with myspace? I'd sort of like to challenge that assumption before we start building on it . . .