Colonizing MySpace

Brooklyn College Library MySpace

During the New Web seminar at the University of Victoria, Jim Spadacinni talked a bit about the potential for museums to colonize popular social sites for both exposure and networking. Logic being, regardless of how much one may hate how a site like MySpace looks and feels -why not go where everybody is?

This whole idea seemed a bit gimmicky to me at first, but pretty soon I started wondering how many colleges and universities are on MySpace. So I did a quick search and … the search function on MySpace sucks! It was extremely difficult to find anything when I entered the keyword university or UCLA or Mary Washington. So I searched by groups, but mainly found student clubs, individual pages, and assorted school toolbars.

I had read about a librarian at Brooklyn College who created a profile for their library on MySpace, so this time I did a google search and found it. How about that, a MySpace profile from a library that “colonizes” the virtual spaces where students hang out. Effectively making the Brooklyn College library a different place for some, i.e., a hip, cool place to hang out, research, or even get online and check your myspace account.

Given that colleges and universities are premised upon bringing people together around thinking critically about ideas, interests, and beliefs (making these institutions particular kinds of social networks) -can they ignore these communities (MySpace being just one example) that are developing virtual models that also center around people’s interests, ideas, and shared belief? What might colleges and universities add to such environments? What might they lose by joining them?

I would have immediately dismissed the question of whether or not educational institutions should have a presence on a site like MySpace a few months ago, but as of late I am not so sure. What has me re-thinking my earlier assumptions is that at least 2200 people have found Brooklyn College’s Library profile on MySpace interesting enough to befriend it. This library, without compromising its mission in any way, has reached out to at least 2,200 people who have responded in kind. Very, very interesting …

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6 Responses to Colonizing MySpace

  1. Charlotte says:

    Librarians—both academic and public—have indeed been talking about whether and how to create MySpace and Facebook pages. There are conflicting schools of thought. Some say: absolutely, meet users wherever you find them. Others wonder if having an “institutional” MySpace page doesn’t just prove how out of it libraries are! These folks say that the whole purpose of social network sites is to bring people together, not to try to gain their business. But judging from the MySpaces pages created for movies, for example, it appears to me that like almost everything else on the Web, MySpace hasn’t just been colonized, it has been commercialized. It’s very intriguing to hear that 2200 people have “made friends” with the Brooklyn College library. Hmmm. Thanks for blogging about this.

  2. jimgroom says:

    Excellent point, Charlotte. MySpace, with its umteen million unique visitors monthly, has become a lot more than a place to bring people together, it has become a place to lure people in! Commercialization is certainly one big offshoot of this, but I think that the Brooklyn College library experiment suggests the need for an online community for libraries more generally. Hmmmm, now that is something we might want to think about after the Simpson library blog gets rolling, a MySpace page that leads UMW patrons (students, faculty, and staff alike) to a Simpson library community site.

    Thanks for visiting bavatuesdays, Charlotte, your patronage is greatly appreciated and your comment is spot on! I wish I could trackback to your blog 🙂

  3. Charlotte says:

    Coming soon to a computer near you. Honest.

  4. Michelle says:

    Here you go:

    I was researching Google to find universities on MySpace. Most of the articles that came up were about administrators deciding to ban MySpace or laying down rules about how students should use MySpace. They are so out of touch! That’s like telling kids in the 50’s to not listen to rock-n-roll. Come on baby boomers… wake up!

  5. jimgroom says:

    This is excellent, Michelle. Thanks! It is a very short list of Universities and Colleges on MySpace to say the least., I would love to find out how each of these schools made the decision and why -for as you suggest banning MySpace is so 1950s! I am gonna have to explore the school profiles more and report back. Great find.

  6. Pingback: Colonizing Social Sites: It’s Fun & It’s FREE! at bavatuesdays

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