So, if I have a MySpace page, it seems only natural that I join the Facebook crowd, too. And in just a short few days, I have concluded all on my own that Facebook is light years ahead of MySpace in terms of form and function.
Form: None of the MySpace DIY webpage formatting that creates graphic abominations. True, Facebook pages are boringly identical in layout, but you CAN READ THEM! SInce they are easily read and navigated, it seems to be a lot easier to find people and for them to find you in Facebook than MySpace.
Function: Aside from the clear navigational aids, I was most impressed by Facebook’s “import a blog” feature, which I immediately enabled on my page there. It’s not a particularly complex feature, so I wonder why MySpace can’t do it, too. Blogs have feeds (RSS, Atom, etc.), so you give Facebook your feed URL and you get to post in two places at once. Result: wider audience and more traffic to your site (perhaps).
That being said, I feel like somewhat of an interloper on both sites. The vast majority of Facebook and MySpace users are less than half my age! So I definitely stand out in those friends lists. (Actually, on MySpace, Sir Sean Connery is standing in for me. ) Then there is the fact that many of my students use either or both sites, which is probably kind of weird from both our perspectives. People tend to be remarkably frank on these sites, so I see a side of my students (and former students) that I don’t usually see at school. My own sites are kind of bare right now, so the sharing is a tad lopsided. Give me some time, kids!
My cursory involvement in both sites has enabled me to see why they are so popular. They’re fun! You meet new people and keep in touch with old friends. Sure, there is the possibility for abuse — creepy guys impersonating teenagers and luring real teenagers away from house and home, cruel insults, flames, etc. — but any medium lends itself to both good and bad uses. (Look at cable TV!)
Case in point. Back in the day, prank telephone calls were (still are, I guess) an isolated, but common occurence. Kids made some of them. Creepy adults made others. No one suggested then that we limit telephone usage to users over the age of 14, or ask telephone users to confirm their identity before placing a call. To do so, would entail taking on the monolith, the Bell Telephone Company — the ONLY phone company — which could do pretty much anything it damn well liked. Instead, parents instead were cautioned to coach their children how to handle strange phone calls, and kids were urged not to run off to meet some sweet-talking man on the phone. Somehow, in the intervening years, politicians and parenting uber-experts now expect the media operators to do the policing, instead of encouraging the intelligent and responsible use of the media by their users.
Now if we could just teach MySpace users what decent, readable graphic design looks like, all would be well.