Myspace and the Curse of Success
June 29, 2011

Today, Specific Media, a digital advertising company, announced that it has purchased Myspace (remember Myspace?) from News Corp. Just five years ago, News Corp paid $580 million for Myspace, but since then, the once-powerful social networking site has shed users and been overtaken by Facebook. In January, Myspace laid off nearly half its staff, and Specific Media, according to a number of reports, paid just $35 million for it. How could Myspace have fallen so far, so fast? According to one 2009 study, the website may have been a victim of its own success.

Just Friends
July 21, 2010

The idea of an online social network is simple, even obvious—Kirkpatrick cites an article from 1968 expounding the idea long before it was technologically feasible. Such networks were already up and running—MySpace was the biggest—when Zuckerberg started Facebook. A user has a profile page on which he posts whatever information about himself he thinks might interest people with whom he has—or would like to have—a relationship.

Just Friends
July 21, 2010

The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World By David Kirkpatrick (Simon & Schuster, 372 pp., $26) Facebook is a phenomenon. Its founder and principal owner and chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, is another phenomenon. The rise of these linked phenomena is well narrated in The Facebook Effect, written by an experienced technology journalist who seems to have been given total access to everyone connected with the company, including Zuckerberg. The book is not entirely uncritical, but it is apparent that Kirkpatrick is awed by the twin phenomena.

The O-List
November 19, 2008

In the spring of 2007, long before Sarah Palin became a feminist icon, before Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers reared their unreconstructed heads, before Hillary Clinton ever questioned his readiness to be president, Barack Obama's greatest nemesis was a 29-year-old paralegal named Joe Anthony. Anthony had attracted tens of thousands of fans to a MySpace page he'd set up for Obama—a testament to the legions of new voters the candidate was inspiring. But, back in Chicago, all Anthony's site inspired was indigestion.

The Fatal Handjob
October 22, 2008

Indignation By Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin, 236 pp., $26) College students today, showered with condoms and tastefully preserving their drunken, tonguetapping escapades on Facebook and MySpace for future in--laws and employers, have no appreciation of the sacrifices made by those who came before, the lusty pioneers of the sexual revolution. They take for granted the blowjobs and easy lay-ups made possible through the guerrilla activities of forgotten combatants in the early, undeclared stages of America's war for erotic independence.

Instant Gratification
March 06, 2006

A SHAMELESSLY GOOFY BAND of street musicians performs in and around the subway station at Union Square in Manhattan--a banjoist, a washtub bassist, a percussionist who plays cookware, and someone doing something else, as I recall. Not long ago, I took the group's business card, which says "No Music, No Party," and then gives a phone number. I wondered if the phrase was the name of the ensemble or a terse statement of philosophy. If it is the latter, the fellows have a point that is borne out through cultural history.