Myspace and Facebook
I've been playing with the two titans of social networking sites the last couple of days. I've avoided both for several years basically because they've seen remarkably adept at slurping down rivers of time, at least that's what seemed to be the case when watching my children using the services.
And I was right. I've just scratched the surface of building profiles, adding pictures, video, audio, images, thematic presentation and such for both. And I've noticed that each, including Twitter, wants status blurbs as frequently as possible, which create responses from friends, increasing email and scribblings on walls.
Fortunately, I've found an effective shortcut to status/what are you doing? postings by using a ping.fm iGoogle gadget that allows me to write one posting that is sent to all three.
My first impressions of the two web applications are that Facebook is easier to send comments to others, while Myspace is easier to find schools/colleges (no, Facebook, I did not attend Concord High School in Australia!!!!!) . And call me crazy, but would it have been that difficult for Facebook to make their wall actually look like a wall?
So time consuming, and yet millions have flocked to these social networking sites. I wonder if the generation that grew up on video games (those under 30), where working on a game often takes days, finds it much more natural to work for hours filling out their niche in the social networking world because thy have grown up spending hours before a screen making Mario run/jump/hop from platform to platform to avoid or destroy goombas and koopa troopas until they've perfected the sequence and beaten the level?
Now it's true that the fastest growing population groups on Facebook are young (26-34) and middle aged (35-44) professionals, and older folks are picking it up in significant numbers as well (see http://radar.oreilly.com/2008/09/facebook-growth-by-age-group-s.html). But I bet the time spent on the web site is much higher with teens and college students. Part of it may simply be having more time, and yet I would defy anyone to support an assertion that contemporary college students have much free time, especially those attending community colleges.
Instead, I think it's a mindset that they've grown up with that those of us who remember playing Pong on a 19 inch video screen in the back of a beer bar did not develop--the investment of time in building something--video character skills, solving puzzles, gathering clues--in front of a glowing screen.
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