The downfall of MySpace

Image representing MySpace as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Just as empires throughout history and around the world have risen and fallen, to be replaced by new ones, so have social networking websites in recent years. Five or six years ago, MySpace was perhaps the biggest in the world, but it has declined greatly, and now Facebook has taken its place.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=myspace-sold-for-35-million-2011-06-30

Myspace sold for $35 million

Thursday, June 30, 2011
ISTANBUL- From online dispatches
Myspace was purchased by digital ad network Specific Media on Wednesday for $35 million, a fraction of the $580 million the company’s previous owner News Corp paid for it, according to several news sources.

A past leader of the social media world, Myspace’s usership has been steadily in decline as other social media sites, such as Facebook, have developed. Specific Media CEO Tim Vanderhook said in a written statement to CNN that he plans to use Myspace to “drive the next generation of digital innovation.”

As Specific Media specializes in advertising, the company offered a revamped vision for the website as a space where advertisers can use the social network infrastructure to promote their campaigns.

“[We plan to use Myspace] to deploy socially activated advertising campaigns, enabling brands to turn their campaigns viral by allowing users to share their favorite ads with friends,” a representative from the company told CNN.

Pop icon Justin Timberlake has joined the Myspace team as part-owner and will supposedly play a major role in the company’s changes, reported the New York Times. Timberlake said in a statement that Myspace could still be a spot where “fans could go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect.”

When media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s company News Corp purchased Myspace in 2005, the website enjoyed 20 million new visitors each month from the United States, making it the fastest-growing social network at the time. But News Corp has been trying to get rid of Myspace since last winter.

Michael Nathanson, a media sector analyst for Nomura Securities told the New York Times that Myspace was not just holding News Corp back. “[Wall Street] just wanted [the sale] done, because it’s been a real drag on growth.”

The Myspace company has experienced significant cutbacks in employee numbers this year. In January 500 employees were laid off and another round of cuts is expected since the acquisition by Specific Media.

Most employees [former or current] will argue that it was poor management, or a need to hit revenue targets once News Corp. took over that set the course of MySpace’s downfall, said Lee Brenner, former director of MySpace’s Impact section and current publisher of HyperVocal.

Myspace currently has 35 million visitors per month, the New York Times reported.

It infuriates me that Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp empire also includes FOX News, was ever allowed to take over MySpace. I’m glad to see that it was failing. The last few times I visited it, many of the things I liked about it, including its discussion groups, were gone and without them I had no more reason to bother with it. I wonder now if the executives and engineers who run MySpace were deliberately trying to destroy it so Murdoch would give it up later.

Note to owners of media outlets everywhere: Do not sell your properties to Rupert Murdoch or anyone else running News Corp, no matter how much money they offer you! That sort of selling out to a media and corporate tyrant just sickens me!

A case of false advertising for atheism

Take a look at this chart, a “Periodic Table of Atheists and Antitheists”:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Bay4lTZyHTE/TgYmEIFDbbI/AAAAAAAAAEM/uk50wWHaofw/s1600/tableofatheists150.jpg

One of my basic principles is Truth in Advertising, that whenever you illustrate something or state something, that depiction or statement must be as accurate as possible. This is one of those cases in which that principle has been violated.

Carl Sagan is on the list, at the 11 position. So is Neil deGrasse Tyson, at position 3 and Charles Darwin at position 38. But all these are or were  NOT  atheists, but agnostics.  To understand the difference, just look here:

https://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/misdefining-terms-for-purposes-of-propaganda/

But there are striking omissions from the table. Where is Ayn Rand??? By all accounts and appearances she WAS indeed an atheist. She should have been listed among the philosophers for her founding of the Objectivist movement. Likewise, there are no leaders of the Communist movement either, not even Karl Marx!

This chart is a lie and it needs to be taken down and replaced with a more accurate one!

Making a case for Universalism

Universalism is the other half of the religious tradition known as Unitarian Universalism. I already dealt with the first half by denying the Trinity as a self-contradicting assertion:

https://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/there-is-no-trinity-period/

It is understandable that some people want to feel like they are better than others or more loved by God than others, but that is an appeal to the human ego that is destructive to human spirituality. There is nothing more vile than the idea that God would condemn anyone to eternal damnation in hell for believing in the “wrong” dogmas. Such extreme punishment could only be justified if there was some empirical way to discover the truth in religion, thus making it beyond dispute. But if that was the case, it wouldn’t even be religion at all; it would be SCIENCE.

In the late 1980s, I was a Christian and I was perfectly sincere about it. Then at the turn of this Century, I was a Baha’i and just as zealous about that. And in both cases, I have turned away from those religions because I found them to be flawed and unworthy of my allegiance, perhaps even completely false, as many do believe. But if I had died at either time, would it have been fair for God to condemn me for following a false religion?

Even if Christianity was the only true religion, the fact that it has been divided into thousands of competing sects, despite the fact that Christians are supposed to believe in one God and one savior, is enough to show that there are no “true” Christians. No matter what position you take, you are part of a minority in the world; Christians only make up about 1/4 of the population of the world. Is it logical to assume that God would condemn the vast majority of the world for not being Christian, especially when there is so much evidence that it is defended by outright fraud?

1900 years ago, Christians and Jews were a tiny minority in the world. In places like India, China, Japan, and the American continents, there was virtually no chance for people living there to hear and accept the teaching of either Bible based religion, while there were religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, or the various Pagan religions. Who could blame the people in those lands for following what they knew? It is easy to assume you have the only true faith when you have only that one faith in your community and do not know followers of other religions except through crude stereotypes. Once you get to know those followers as people, those stereotypes tend to break down. Exposure to those people breeds tolerance quite naturally.

Since there is no way to know what truth in religion is, there is no justification for the dogma that God damns anyone for what they believe or disbelieve. That claim is bigotry and thus is evil.

An unbalanced view of doing business

The basic goal of all businesses in a free market capitalist system is to make as much profit as possible. Of course, there is nothing wrong with making money, as long as you are honest and fair about it. But sometimes companies look at only ONE issue of making a profit and fail to see the big picture. Consider these  stories:

Micheal was hired to be a delivery assistant for Southside Deliveries in mid-November, doing what he was told would be a temporary job that would last until Christmas Eve.  Unfortunately, he was terminated after just two weeks (early December) and the excuse the company gave was “You are too slow.” Micheal was so disgusted at being tossed so quickly that he vowed never to even use Southside Deliveries as a customer. Thus Southside Deliveries, by firing him to save profits, actually lost profits they might have made from him over the next few years.

Mary was a loyal customer of Blue River Energy for years, so she reasoned that she would be an ideal employee for it as well. She was hired to be one of its Sales Representatives  and was sent to public places like shopping malls, grocery stores, convention centers, and electronics stores. At these places, she set up her booth and tried to persuade people coming there for other things to switch to using Blue River Energy as their electricity retailer. Despite her going by the book over a two month period, she never sold enough policies to satisfy management, and she was suddenly terminated by her supervisor when she went out to do another day’s work. He simply took her materials and table from her and left her in shock. Soon afterwards, she switched to another electric company, AP Power, because she felt totally betrayed.

Henry signed up for employment with a temp agency, and was sent out a week later to do work at a factory owned by Masters Manufacturing. He worked hard all day, and never got the impression from the supervisors that anything was amiss. But the next day, he got a call from the temp agency that Masters Manufacturing had rejected him. “They said you were too slow, ” was all Henry was told. Henry felt that was unjust, since he’d only done as he was told by those same people who rejected him….and vowed never to buy another cell phone or other electronic device made by Masters Manufacturing.

Now, there is nothing wrong with firing a worker who commits acts of direct insubordination or disrespect for either management or customers,  vandalism, assault of another employee, theft, drunkeness or drug abuse on the job, or some other illegal activity. In my opinion, those should be the reasons to fire employees and nothing else. Terminating someone because he is slightly less productive than someone else is a form of discrimination. What if this is due to a mental or physical disability, rather than laziness? What if the employee is new and just needs time to get used to his job? What if the employee’s contributions still count for something, as does the decision of the former employee to boycott the business after his termination?

Workers need to get together and stop letting companies bully them into ruin. They can do that by boycotting any company that treats them as disposable. Maybe if enough people start doing that, then the companies will start treating workers with more respect!

Why peace activists (and critics of religion) sometimes fail

I just read something interesting in this article:

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4749/why_liberal_religious_arguments_fail/

I participated for a time in a Los Angeles-area peace and justice group, an interfaith group filled with good and righteous people. Following the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, it was decided that we should be reaching out to area congregations to ask if we could provide them with guest speakers who would then tell the members of those congregations just how wrong and pointless the war and occupation was. There were few takers. Meanwhile, but on a separate track, this same group was establishing relationships with returning soldiers and military family members who opposed the war. I suggested that we might ask congregations whether they would care to hear from a service member or a military family member, someone who would simply tell their story, rather than hear from one of the well-briefed peaceniks. My suggestion was rejected, as this would have deprived the peaceniks of a chance to sound off about how wrong (how very wrong) George W. Bush and Don Rumsfeld had been in regard to principles of international law. I withdrew from the group shortly thereafter.

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A good reason not to be Libertarian – Classical music

As a lover of classical music for decades, I have been dismayed by its gradual decline in our society. In most record stores today (at least in north Texas), it is increasingly difficult to find a section of the store dedicated to classical music, or even new age music for that matter. Instead, I find our culture swamped constantly by rock, country, and even rap music. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with those genres, since I listen to plenty of rock and even some country myself  (indeed, I grew up only with country since that was all my parents would listen to). OK, I don’t like most rap. Want to call me elitist for that? Be my pest!

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A clear case of internet FRAUD!

Read this outrageous story:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110613/wl_uk_afp/syriapoliticsunrestgayinternetbritainus

Blogger admits ‘Gay Girl in Damascus’ hoax

Mon Jun 13, 4:20 am ET

LONDON (AFP) – Rights campaigners reacted furiously after a US student based in Scotland unmasked himself as the author of the “Gay Girl in Damascus” blogs, which charted the security crackdown in Syria.

Tom MacMaster, a 40-year-old Edinburgh University masters student, admitted Sunday that he was “Amina Abdullah”, who had described “herself” as a Syrian political blogger.

The Abdullah character rose to fame with her reports on the pro-reform movement, posting as “an out Syrian lesbian’s thoughts on life, the universe and so on”.

Then last Tuesday someone claiming to be her cousin wrote on the website that Abdullah had been snatched off the street by three armed men and bundled into a car bearing a pro-government window sticker.

The report sparked a wave of alarm among her online followers. Supporters even set up a “Free Amina Abdullah” group on the social networking site Facebook, attracting nearly 15,000 followers.

MacMaster finally came clean in a posting on his blog Sunday, after doubts began to emerge as to whether Abdullah really was for real. He admitted that he was the sole author of the posts.

“I never expected this level of attention,” MacMaster wrote in an “Apology to readers” posted on the blog.

“While the narrative voice may have been fictional, the facts on this blog are true and not misleading as to the situation on the ground.

“I do not believe that I have harmed anyone — I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about,” MacMaster added.

“I only hope that people pay as much attention to the people of the Middle East and their struggles in this year of revolutions.”

The Guardian newspaper said that in recent days, bloggers had uncovered evidence that pointed towards MacMaster and his wife Britta Froelicher.

MacMaster is a Middle East activist, while his wife is studying at Scotland’s St Andrews University for a doctorate in Syrian economic development.

In his apology, MacMaster said he had been touched by the reaction of readers.

But the revelation of the hoax has sparked fury among some former followers of the blog, particularly those who had been campaigning for Abdullah’s release.

“This just makes me so angry,” said one comment on the Facebook group set up to press for her release.

“The situation in Syria is too dire for this sort of gameplaying!”

“Time and effort was taken away from other vitally important news stories happening in Syria,” another contributor protested.

As an Honorable Skeptic, I took little notice of “Amina”, but find the case of someone pretending to be her intolerable! Now the voices of REAL Arab political activists, gay rights activists, and others communicating via the internet will be less likely to be taken seriously, for how do we know they are not fake? Tom McMaster (or perhaps I should call him McBastard) should immediately be arrested, tried and either heavily fined or imprisoned for fraud. If Amina had been a real person that McMaster had been impersonating, he would have been committing identity theft. How can making up and portraying a fictional person, but claimed to be real, be any better?

Indeed, one of my basic principles is that it is NEVER acceptable to do bad things for a good reason or cause. The long term credibility of the cause is more important than any possible short-term gains from the deception.

Incidentally, this relates somewhat to what Rep. Anthony Weiner did with his Twitter account and the aftermath of that incident. Putting a picture of your crotch publicly on Twitter, intending it to be a private message to a woman not your wife, is stupid, but it can be overlooked. What CANNOT be tolerated or ignored is that Weiner LIED afterwards about the matter, claiming that a hacker had broken into the Twitter account. He should be condemned for that and made to resign. Back in the 1990s, I was appalled at that Bill Clinton did, having affairs with women, including Monica Lewenski, and then lying to everyone about it. He should have resigned too. But I also recognize that the attempts by Republicans to get rid of him were self-serving as well, and they have had too many of their own scandals among themselves to be taken seriously when they condemn people like Clinton or Weiner.