Saturday, March 22, 2008

MySpace and Facebook

#12 in the 23 Things/Learning 2.0 training focuses on the two preeminent social networking sites, MySpace and Facebook.

I've explored both sites. MySpace allows the unregistered visitor greater access than Facebook. I tried searching for Desert Mountain High School students and alumni. I found up-to-date news in MySpace on a number of DMHS grads. I also learned more than I wanted to about some of them!

Students in the library where I work seem especially drawn to MySpace, although school administration prohibits the use of social networking sites during the school day. I wonder how many of them would find visiting a library's MySpace a draw? I checked Denver Public Library's MySpace for eVolver, the teen program. The profile claims eVolver is single, female, 18, and a Capricorn. "Lite" rap music played as I perused the page.

Sorry, but this is L-A-M-E! Most of the friends are either authors promoting their books or other libraries trying to pass as fellow cool entities. I connected to "nobody's home because this was a phishing attempt" error messages when I tried to link to the Find a Good Book or Good Music or Movie Reviews by Teens pages. The page hasn't been updated in five weeks and the program links are outdated.

At the Internet Librarian conference, Aaron Schmidt has promoted libraries having MySpaces and Facebook accounts. He recommended having a teen design these pages to add authenticity and design chaos. He poohed-poohed concerns about online safety by claiming teens realize the difference between real friends and MySpace "friends." However, I know that MySpace has been used by students to harrass and embarrass other students.

If one of the coolest teen programs in LibraryLand looks lame there, it doesn't bode well for the rest of us. Are libraries on MySpace the online equivalent of the person who attends a party only to make contacts and pass out business cards? Or perhaps they're the middle-aged person who's trying to be cool by wearing teen fashions. Will teens give us credit for trying -- or avert their eyes? I'd be interested in knowing how many teens frequent the library pages on these services, but I haven't encountered any counters yet.

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