MySpace and Social Tools

I have had to lobby this week to have the IT people that manage the computer filtering at the school I work with to give adults access to MySpace. In fact, I don’t even know if any of the adults that come to computer drop-in time at the hich school ever even try to access MySpace, but I know if they try, they can’t.

The larger problem is that the filtering software they use to keep kids off of a ton of different sites during the school day (Surf Control, if it matters) behaves … erratically. I have computer logins specifically for my adult students and every now and again I go to help them do something and find that Google is blocked. Not Gmail, just plain old Google.com. So I call the IT people and ask them to fix it and they usually do. However, since I actually need to be able to access sites like Google during my evening classes, we’ve reached a compromise where they turn the filter off between 3 (after school) and 8 pm. However, they also track all the traffic that goes through the network during this time. They noticed, they said, that people were accessing MySpace. The implication was that 1) MySpace is against the rules and 2) MySpace has no value whatsoever and 3) even adults don’t have the right to use the computer networks to access social software sites.

So, I went to work and explained that the adults who come to drop-in time shoudl pretty much have the right to look at whatever they want, that MySpace is fine — I hadn’t been looking at MySpace but I had a page on MySpace that I might want to look at — and that the reports of MySpace’s dangers have bee greatly overrated. Read the article. Fewer teens are receiving unwanted online solicitations than they were in 1999. Despite this, we get laws like DOPA. That’s lousy.

6 Responses to “MySpace and Social Tools”

  1. Emily Says:

    Yes, that’s definitely lousy in so many ways. I’ve seen so many libraries (in my area at least) that have had such knee-jerk reactions to the MySpace is evil stories that have come through the media. Sometimes it seems like such an uphill battle to convince folks that social networking is not the bad guy. And that we can’t act in loco parentis for our patrons… especially when they are responsible adults. What we can do, however, is promote information and media literacy. But we need to convince our own libraries before we can being to work with the public!

  2. Leo Klein Says:

    In Chicago, the radio stations routinely air a commercial along the lines of:

    “While Mommy is away, little Mary is in her room with 5,000 strangers….”

    When you get to that level of argument, you’ve left the world of reason behind you.

  3. Jeff Says:

    Our library allows Myspace. Our argument for keeping it is that its another communication tool, just like email. Recently our Youth Librarian had to cancel a SPARC meeting (our teen group), but she couldn’t get a hold of anyone. Later, when the group showed up, they asked why they didn’t just bulletin them through MySpace (we didn’t think of that). This is the message, if you don’t have a MySpace, you don’t exist. This holds true for people AND organizations.

  4. lyra Says:

    i think myspace is a bad communication tool, but i also think that it is a legitimate communication tool. my school blocks it, and some of the students try to get around it, and some of them succeed..im unsure how. but i think that considering that i am at a college, and we are all (supposedly) adults, its a little bit of an overreaction.

  5. John Gehner Says:

    This has no doubt been articulated elsewhere many times … But as a librarian and music hound, I cast my vote in support of MySpace as a place to find music that’s NOT being squeezed directly from the corporate poop chute. For this reason alone I will defend access to the site. Thus: http://www.myspace.com/thesword and http://www.myspace.com/melodiousowl

  6. John Gehner Says:

    A MySpace footnote: Musician Kate Walsh’s album TIM’S HOUSE is a Top 10 iTunes download in the UK … and Walsh is not signed to a record label. “The classically trained pianist from Brighton said she built up a fan base by putting her music onto her MySpace page and eventually persuaded iTunes to sell it.” See: http://cultofmac.com/?p=452