• The new Myspace at a glance

    I screamed when I finally got the email invite I signed up for, something I had been dying to get since first seeing the preview video two months ago. The preview was fluid and creative and beautiful but I was very curious as to how the revamped social media platform would actually work.

    As a disclaimer, I’m on the lookout for new social platforms, I obviously self selected into this beta trial and I have been disenchanted with Facebook for some time, so I may be more forgiving of the new Myspace’s flaws than most. I’m viewing the site on a PC using Google Chrome. This acrostic below represents my first impression and is not meant to be a definitive analysis.

    The new Myspace from Myspace on Vimeo.

    Music: Where Facebook failed miserably, Myspace triumphs as it always has. Circa 2007, Myspace was a medium where you watched your favorite “little known” bands get famous. Right now the new Myspace is mostly dominated by the big names like Beyonce and Taylor Swift, but there are some surprising smaller artists like T. Mills and Big Chocolate making an appearance. Facebook made music a hassle through the use of outside apps like Bandpage, but every inch of the new Myspace is designed intuitively with music in mind. On top of being able to create custom mixes that you can assign a photo to and choose the privacy level of, you can queue up music or radio stations to listen to continuously while moving throughout the whole site.

    You: The new Myspace is a blank canvas just for you. It’s not the place to reconnect with old friends, but it is the place to reconnect with an old favorite song and people who also have an affinity (even though I’m still trying to figure out how it’s calculated myspace measures affinity now) for that song. It’s cool and very confusing to use, so hopefully this will keep the parents and grandparents away. The problem is that to truly get the full experience, the new Myspace will suck up a lot of your time as well. From remembering how to get to things to endless amounts of media to “discover”, it’s definitely not the place to take a quick study break.

    Streamlined: Your “stream” on Myspace is equivalent to your newsfeed on Facebook or your home on Twitter. It collects bits from all the things you connect to (we’ll get to that part later) and displays them. At first glance, what makes the Myspace stream so different and in my opinion better than its counterparts is the horizontal scrolling feature. Scrolling through the content from left to right is a very natural way to read. It reminds me of the way reading is typically done on tablets, especially on apps like Flipboard which consolidates your social networks into a feed that’s visually appealing and well as the name denotes something you can flip through like a magazine.

    People: This will obviously make or break the new Myspace. If it is invite only for too long like Google+ was in the beginning those only slightly interested or simply content with the social networks they currently maintain may not have the attention span to wait for it. It incorporates a lot original elements that mimic other tools people use like the music steaming on Spotify, video streaming on YouTube, posts that have a 150 character limit similar to Twitter’s 140 character limit, and feed that lets you scroll through it all. The question is, does Myspace master each of these elements enough to convince you to save time by ditching your other tools and consolidating it all on one site. At this point the answer is no, partially because there is a definite learning curve that comes with the new platform and partially because it is doing so many things that it doesn’t take the time to perfect each like the individual tools do.

    Affinity: When you hover over a person, artist, song, etc. a Venn diagram appears with an overall affinity percentage and percentages broken down into the categories of music, connections and activity. I have affinity percentages with artists I haven’t connected to. Does this mean that connections of connections can also determine affinity? Or connecting to similar types of artists can determine affinity?

    Connect: Connect is the new Myspace’s verb. It serves the purpose of both the “add friend” and the “like” on Facebook and the “follow” on Twitter. It is both ambiguous and impersonal. You use the connect feature to connect with your best friend, Jay Z, the song “Call Me Maybe”, and a Michael Jackson music video.

    Enigma: I still have a lot of questions like how exactly uploading photos and creating photo albums will be and how the old Myspace, Myspace Classic as they’re calling it, integrates with the new Myspace. How will the mobile experience change? Will there be a tablet app with similar new features?

    I simply created a new account instead of facing the shame of my old one, and the invite only status makes for a lonely site so far. For now, I’m simply swimming in the vast sea of media the new Myspace offers because I’m not too sure how the friend, you know the people you actually know in real life, part will work yet.

    It’s definitely worth a try. Request an invite. Friend me! If that phrase is still applicable. There’s a lot to work with here. Let’s figure it out together.

    Goodbye Tom. Hello Justin Timberlake.

  • Texas football and Twitter: Natalie Portman ventures into new territory

    Natalie Portman, the non-Texan, non-Longhorn, #twitterless actress created a buzz at the University of Texas at Austin's Darrell K. Royal stadium during the UT vs. Baylor football game.

    Though it may seem like a strange PR move, some celebrities are simply not active on social media. Luckily, loyal fans did Portman's work for her on Twitter tonight.

    Read a social media mashup and interactive analysis of the Natalie Portman sighting on The Daily Texan's Storify.

  • Texas State grad uses social media to inspire students to dream big

    Russ Garcia, 25, set up boards on the UT campus to promote his project, theworldonmyback.com, and encouraged students to write down their wildest dream. He plans to follow his dream of traveling around South America with nothing but a backpack (Photo Credit: Angela Bumstead).
    Russ Garcia, 25, set up boards on the UT campus to promote his project, theworldonmyback.com, and encouraged students to write down their wildest dream. He plans to follow his dream of traveling around South America with nothing but a backpack (Photo Credit: Angela Bumstead).

    Dance in the Boston Ballet. Play in the New York Philharmonic. Cure cancer. Become the first woman president. Write a book. Open a restaurant. These were few of the hundreds of ambitions that were scrawled across a board by UT students last week. Many hesitated to write down their deepest passions, maybe in fear of receiving judgmental looks or believing that their goals were simply ridiculous and unreachable.

    On October 3 and 4, 25-year-old Russ Garcia visited the UT campus in hopes of encouraging students that their dreams were in fact obtainable. He presented four 4’x8’ boards that displayed the quote: “If you could pursue your dream with no fear of failure, what would you do?” The board, which took Garcia nearly two weeks to construct, encouraged students to write down dreams and visions of their ideal future.

    “The boards are just a way of sharing the message that whatever it is that is important to your dream and passion, then that is what you should make sacrifices towards pursuing,” Garcia stated.

    Over the past month, Garcia visited Texas State, where he graduated from two years ago, and UTSA to promote his project, theworldonmyback.com. The website was launched in May shortly after he decided to drop everything—his marketing job and long-term girlfriend— to pursue his aspiration of volunteering and backpacking across South America.

    “I’m not going to do something that doesn’t allow me to grow and challenge myself and be the person that I would like to be,” said Garcia. “I knew I had the desire to do something else for a reason.”

    Last week, Garcia’s project was also featured on two San Antonio morning news shows, San Antonio Living and Great Day SA.

    Garcia plans to post video and photo updates on the website of his backpacking trip, which will begin in Lima, Peru on October 11. For the first month and a half, cameraman Darren Fitch, a graduate of the USC film school, will accompany Garcia on his expedition. After that, Garcia will be traveling solo.

    Garcia lives by the motto, “Sometimes, you just gotta jump”, which is also featured on the website as well as his T-Shirts that people can buy to help support his dream adventure. Garcia hopes his example will be an inspiration for students to take risks to achieve their ultimate goals.

    “I would rather have a life of ‘oh well’s’ than a life of ‘what if’s,’” Garcia said.

    Garcia also plans to type up the thousands of entries that students wrote on the boards across the three campuses and turn it into a blog series titled, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,” after the John Lennon song.

    Garcia has faith that his trip will help him grow both personally and creatively. He is eager to learn Spanish and Portuguese, be immersed in new cultures, and volunteer with those who are in need.

    “I believe that being out of one's comfort zone forces them to grow, just out of sheer necessity to adapt,” Garcia said. “That type of growth can only be achieved by pushing one's boundaries.”

    Garcia had one final message that he wanted to get across.

    “Life is too short to not pursue [your dream]. You’re going to be doing something, so you might as well do what you want to, risk, and take a little bit of a leap. If not that, then what?”

  • Vaccaro defends comments about DKR

    Did you like our social media mashup about The Daily Texan news boxes last week? Similarly, a Daily Texan article in which Longhorn safety Kenny Vaccaro was asked whether he likes playing on the road better than at home has gone viral. What started as an honest opinion by Longhorn safety Kenny Vaccaro ended up as a Twitter rally.

    To see how the story unfolded on twitter view "Vacarro defends comments about DKR" on The Daily Texan's Storify

  • Digital media fights for its roots

    News of the new media building outcasting old media was spread Thursday morning perhaps ironically through new media.

    After a request to put a Daily Texan box in front of the Belo Center for New Media was denied, an online firestorm resulted in backlash for the College of Communication. The Dean announced Thursday afternoon the college would design and place a Daily Texan box somewhere on site.

    But first, Twitter blew up with hundreds of tweets. The story also got more than 4,000 hits before noon of the morning it was published and was picked up by Poynter, College Media Matters and JimRomenesko.com.

    Patrick George, reporter for the Austin-American Statesman, first tweeted the story from The Daily Texan:

    So The Daily Texan's Twitter account asked its followers what they thought of the Belo Center for New Media not placing any news boxes in front of the building that houses the School of Journalism:

     

    The issue was not just about news boxes. College of Communication administration had cited concerns that the presence of news boxes would attract litter to a building that was striving to be as enviornmentally friendly as possible. However, faculty from the School of Journalism found it to be a mistake that there were no student newspapers outside the building that houses the School of Journalism.

    Meanwhile, people online at Facebook, Twitter and The Daily Texan's comment section debated the greater significance of this issue:

    Soon, users expressed varying degrees of disapproval:

    College of Communication administrators' concerns about the environment stemmed from the fact that the Belo Center for New Media is striving to get the "silver certification" from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. People weighed in on the environmental impacts:

    And the College of Communication was further concerned the news boxes would take away a "certain look" from the plaza. Some supported the effort for mantaining the aesthetic:

    And others did not:

    The College of Communication further argued that there are boxes right across the street, which some people sympathized with. Others also believed physical papers are no longer relevant in today's world of journalism.

    But while some people think we should stop old media and kill it in its tracks, others believe we should nicely help the old guy across the street. Glenn Frankel, director of the School of Journalism, said the support online shows a support for print media.

    "It does not surprise me that people react strongly when print media is taken away," said Frankel. "I think there is still a lot of support out there in the world of journalism and news for traditional legacy media, and legacy platforms like print."

    After several hours of online backlash, the Dean of the College of Communication emailed The Daily Texan that it would place a newly designed Texan news box in front of the Belo Center for New Media.

    Following the announcement, Twitter users celebrated the "power of the press" that restored print media and kept a strong bridge between digital media and its roots:

    At the end of the day, the story was printed in traditional journalism. But it was spread most heavily via digital media, i.e. new media. Instead of leaving him behind, new media fought for grandpa.

    Additional reporting by Bobby Blanchard.

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