MySpace is useful for only a few, focused purposes. But mostly, MySpace is a dead end.
MySpace seems to me essentially like baseball cards. You collect them. You share and trade them. But that is about it. If you have friends on MySpace, it can become a locus for sharing ideas, events, and community. But I would like to argue that in the age of Web 2.0 that MySpace is decidedly 1.0. There’s no rss, users have to log in to see the good stuff, the format is incredibly limited, and how much you get out of it is absolutely connected to how many friends you have. No friends=no fun.
Many people talk about using MySpace as a marketing tool. I have spoken to Museum staff who want to create a MySpace page for this purpose. But they seem to be disillusioned about what a MySpace page can do. All the hype has clouded reality. So you make a MySpace page, and people “friend” you. So what? First, those people probably already knew about you–preaching to the converted. Second, what do they get for their friendship? Unless you create a MySpace blog, or add photos regularly, or post to your friends’ blogs, they don’t get nothin’. What do you get? A dead end. You haven’t discovered any new audiences, you haven’t developed any new brand loyalty. (The one good purpose for a MySpace page seems to be for independent musicians to share their music.)
What are better options? A public blog, for one. It’s visible by anyone, searchable through Google, indexed by blog aggregators like Technorati and Digg, and it has an rss feed! This is a much better option for a museum. I am sure MySpace is attractive to museums because it’s a one-hit task– build your page, and it’s there, then you can forget about it. But this is exactly the problem. Web 2.0 requires work. It’s not about free content!