Virtual Communities: From Geocities To MySpace

The following is a post on the history of virtual communities by Patrick Mackaronis.

Long ago and far away, there was a quaint little cyber village called Geocities. Geocities was, for several years, one of the most popular virtual communities on the Internet.

Known for its topic-specific neighborhoods, Geocities offered web users a creative and interactive way to find like-minded cyber buddies through chat rooms and yes, good old-fashioned web pages. There was Area 51 for science fiction and fantasy buffs. Heartland for those looking for hometown values and HotSprings for the more health-conscious surfers. (psst… any ex-Capitol-Hillers out there? Its me… Kate(jpo)!) With 41 neighborhoods in all, Geocities was THE place to be, whether you knew anything about creating a web site or not.

Virtual Communities: GeoCities

Today, Geocities is long gone, although its spirit of “community on the web” continues to stay strong. With forums, instant messaging and a whole host of chat rooms, building community has become one of the web’s biggest accomplishments. Geocities would be so proud. But perhaps the most impressive community builders of all is MySpace, the “Geocities” for the next generation.

MySpace.com is a sort of web page/forum hybrid, also one of the most popular virtual communities, complete with graphics, templates, blogging capabilities and email system. Doesn’t sound like a big deal? Don’t be so sure. Just as I never missed a night of chatting on Capitol Hill, MySpace users are taking full advantage of this new instant communication tool.

Founded in July 2003 by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe, MySpace was originally created to give aspiring musicians a place to promote their music and connect with potential fans. A musician himself, Anderson had Hollywood contacts and as word spread, MySpace quickly became a profitable venture, projecting a $200 million in revenues.

Virtual Communities: MySpace

So, just what do you do with a MySpace account?

Plenty! Upon registration, each user is given a “Profile” that they can edit, manipulate and customize to suit their needs. The Profile is the equivalent of a one-page website within the MySpace domain and consists of two basic sections: About Me and People I’d Like To Meet. In addition to these two sections however, users can add extra sections such as personal info, music and movie players, books, etc. As 17-year-old Michael Edwards stated in an interview with USA Today, “your page is like your personality.”

But the possibilities of MySpace doesn’t stop at self-promotion. Remember, MySpace was designed to be a social networking website so user interaction is key to its success. In addition to personal customization, users can also post messages and graphics to other users sites by joining their “Friends” list. MySpace also has an internal email system allowing you to contact other MySpace users without the need for a personal email address. Create your own blog (private or public), send announcements to your friends or add pictures, graphics and random thoughts when the mood strikes you.

Think this is just another fad for socially curious teens? Think again. According to a count, MySpace boasted almost 50 million members, including such notables as Hillary Duff, Peyton and Eli Manning, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Halle Berry.

Patrick Mackaronis is the CEO and Founder of Brabble, and can be reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

Myspace Mobsters Secrets: Mission Mastery Rewards

Different missions are unlocked as players progressively level up through the game. There is a wide variety of missions and some have to be performed in order to obtain items that meet requirements for other missions.

Each mission has four different Mastery levels, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Reaching each level of Mastery rewards an item, some are quite valuable and others leave players wondering why they wasted their time and energy. The rewards listed below are Platinum level Mission Mastery Rewards.

Da Bronx Missions

The most rewarding Mission Mastery in Da Bronx is the Raid National Guard Armory mission. The Platinum reward is an Experimental Rhino Tank.

Although it sounds silly, the Expresso Maker that is received from the Residential Burglary mission is one of the first things players need to acquire because it speeds up the Energy regeneration by 5 percent.

Other notable missions in Da Bronx include: Mob War that rewards 1 Battle Hardened Capo and Grand Theft Auto which results in 1 Perimeter Watchman.

Downtown Missions

The mission with the highest energy requirement of the Downtown Missions, Elect Capo to Mayor’s Office, rewards a Mayor’s Private Jet. The Federal Gold Reserve Heist rewards 2 Crooked Accountants, while the Bank Robbery Mission rewards 1 Crooked Accountant.

The Infiltrate a Hospital and Loot a Weapons Cache Missions both reward a Perimeter Watchman. Infiltrate the Police Department Mission rewards a Crooked Cop. The Negotiate a City Sanitation Contract rewards a Garbage Truck.

Jersey Missions

The rewards for the Jersey Missions are not spectacular when compared to some of the other Mission Mastery rewards. However, the most useful reward is the Swiss Bank Account rewarded by the Credit Card Fraud mission because it increases the frequency of the cash flow payout by 10 percent.

  • Sell Counterfit Rolexes – 3 Crooked Accountants
  • Infiltrate a Rival Mob – 2 Battle Hardened Capo’s
  • Engineer a Prison Breakout – 2 Banditos
  • Pimp My Ride – 1 Pagani Zonda F
  • Credit Card Fraud – 1 Swiss Bank Account

Outta Town Missions

The Revolution in Central America Mission and Raid Lockheed Research Missions are unique in that they both reward valuable items for both Gold and Platinum level Mastery.

A Presidente’s Pleasure Yacht is the Gold level reward and a Generalissimo is the Platinum reward for the Central America Mission. An Experimental Exoskeleton and 2 Drug Lords are the Gold and Platinum level rewards for the Raid Lockheed Research Mission.

  • Take Over a Former Soviet Republic – 1 Former KGB Director
  • Reality Speculation – 2 Crooked Cops
  • Take Over a Catskill Resort – 1 Saratoga Springs Spa
  • Locate a Foreign Safehouse – 1 Bandito
  • Unregistered Weapons Procurement – 1 Winchester ‘94

The other Mission Mastery rewards for Missions not listed here reward either Cash, Skill Points, Favor Points, items already attainable, or hired guns. Hired guns increase player’s mob size allowing them to fight with more mobsters. If enough Favor points are accumulated, players can use them to purchase special limited edition items that regularly become available.

As most missions in the game require large amounts of energy, knowing what each mission rewards will allow players to distribute the energy they attain in the best way possible. Energy is very hard to come by in the game; the best way to acquire it for missions is to take advantage of the Top Mob Energy Feature.

Viewing Images on MySpace: Using HTML Scripts to Link Images

Each MySpace user has his own default Profile image displayed on the page but may choose to “place” his own images in various sections of the Profile page, such as:

  • About Me
  • Interests
  • Who I’d Like To Meet
  • Anywhere else on the general page

Before users can do this, images to be viewed on MySpace need to be stored somewhere else on the Internet. Luckily, there are free Image Hosting websites available, such as Photobucket, which also creates HTML code to import into the MySpace Edit Profile page. The Photobucket website has been found to produce efficient results and is very popular among the MySpace community.

Steps to create the image code

  1. Photobucket is a free signup. Figure 1 shows the user’s page opened at the “my album” tab.
  2. To upload a single image stored on your computer (or use the Bulk Uploader to upload many files), click on the Browse button, select the file and when done, click on the upload button.
  3. Add an image title, description and tag
  4. Click on the “my album” tab to view the installed image thumbnail and click on it. A new page with a larger image will open up and the right hand menu will contain the HTML code for copying into MySpace (see Figure 2)

Steps to Transfer the HTML code into MySpace

  1. Open your Edit Profile page on MySpace.
  2. Copy the code shown in Figure 2, indicated by the red arrow and located under the heading, “HTML CODE – Websites and Blogs”
  3. Paste into MySpace in the desired location.

Editing the HTML Code

Once the HTML code is imported into MySpace, parts of the code are not required. For example, shown circled in Figure 3a is the rollover effect (text appearing when the mouse is moved over the image) for the alt tag text “Photobucket”. This needs to be deleted, or changed to something suitable.

Another redundant inclusion in the HTML code is an image link, which causes anyone clicking on the image (now viewed in MySpace) to take them to the Photobucket website. This link is highlighted in red in Figure 3b and needs to be deleted.

This article features the Photobucket image hosting website for storing images that can be viewed from a MySpace Profile page. Once images are stored on Photobucket, simply copy and paste the generated HTML and paste into MySpace, in a location of choice.

Is MySpace Safe for Children? How They Work To Appease Parents

With the continual growing popularity of social sites like MySpace and Facebook, an added concern has become evident to parents who are trying to keep their kids safe from yet another threat in the cyber world. Online predators continue to take advantage of the lack of restrictions on social networking sites, where children can easily fall into their traps. Even though MySpace has announced their plans to step up their security, it doesn’t seem like enough is being done to protect the young individuals who access this site.

MySpace has millions of users all over the world, most of whom are in their teens or early 20s. While the site was set up with preliminary guidelines regarding who can create a profile, pedophiles, criminals, and other adults can still set up accounts. This gives them virtual access to the many young, unsupervised individuals who can’t tell that they’re really communicating with someone who has ulterior motives.

The site’s set-up to create an account is ridiculously easy. All that’s needed is a first and last name, an email address, country, region, zip code, date of birth and gender. Each and every one of these required aspects could be untrue if the user wishes. If these facts go unchecked, users could fabricate their entire profile.

MySpace’s Origins

The site was intended for young adults and college students to connect with friends and classmates. MySpace has expanded greatly with its impressive reputation to include access to local comedians, bands, and even support groups for teens struggling in various areas. However, instead of serving the purpose of connecting individuals mature enough to make safe decisions, MySpace has become a breeding ground for sex offenders and bullies.

According to The Los Angeles Times on January 15th, 49 state attorneys met with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (he purchased the site in 2005) to discuss changes they wished to see implemented in order to make the site safer for adolescents. A deal was struck with every state (except Texas, who still believes more needs to be done) stating that although MySpace cannot strictly guarantee users will submit their real ages or identities, they are more than willing to devote more manpower and technology to protecting their young users.

The deal states that MySpace will create an email registry that will allow parents to block their children from registering on the site. They will also be enforcing the minimum age limit of 14 by using stricter technology to monitor new users. A hotline for police inquiries will be instated, and porn stars will be required to have their profiles viewable only to users that are not minors.

Do MySpace’s Technology Changes Offer Enough Protection?

Although MySpace has confirmed they will have more of their employees verifying ages and identities, there is still a great risk for young people to be approached by predators. Unless young individuals are in tune to the dangers of this site, they will not truly learn the threat of social networks. Without necessary adult supervision, it seems that MySpace has still not promised to make enough changes to ensure that more protection occurs on the site.