Saturday, October 08, 2005

Making the Most of Online Communities

(MF) -- Online communities like Friendster and MySpace aren't just about finding a date or meeting new friends anymore. More and more technophiles are finding new ways to take advantage of these online social networking sites - making them a hub for everything from finding jobs and concerts to playing games and selling cars.

"I first used these sites so I could keep in touch with my friends," said Rosanne Raposo, a Friendster and MySpace user for the last two years. "Now, there are so many more uses for it. I discover new bands, buy things I can use around my house and I've even found concert tickets through it."

These sites work by allowing users to create their own web pages and inviting others to create web pages as well. As more and more people create pages, a growing network of mutual acquaintances develops, making users more comfortable contacting a stranger for a date. Now, users are finding even more creative ways to use their connections.

"I organize music festivals every month and post ads on these sites' bulletin boards," said Melissa Cruz, organizer of the CNBCN festival. "These sites let me reach thousands of people instantly - and because they know I'm connected to their friends, a lot more people are comfortable coming since they know other people there."

Web surfers aren't just using online communities for play either. Some have even found work on the sites.

"I was looking on all the job sites such as HotJobs and Monster, but had little luck," said Vanessa Quintana, an aspiring music promoter.

Through her online network, a friend of a friend posted a bulletin about a music label looking for interns. She replied and was hired after being interviewed.

"Without the online connection, I would never have had this opportunity" she said.

While it seems these online communities are the new classified ads for this generation, some people still don't see the point of logging online to meet others.

"It just further depersonalizes our society," said Sean Bergin, an actor. "Who are you interacting with? I think you're interacting with a machine, not a person and I think its left a lot of people very isolated."

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On the Net:
MySpace site: http://www.myspace.com
Friendster site: http://www.friendster.com
CNBCN site: http://www.c-n-b-cn.com
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