"Late last year, while preparing for a lecture on politics & online communities for a 3rd-year module Communities On-line (which I taught on with Janet Finlay) I had a look in MySpace and did some searches on political terms. I searched for the major UK parties and found a small number of Lib Dem and New Labour MPs, all with derisory numbers of 'friends' . . . The term 'socialist' was a cracker, though, turning up the Socialist Standard page with around 13,000 friends (as of today, ranking it behind only Obama and Clinton on the technpresident table). Socialist Standard is the organ of the rather wonderful Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB) who, as well as arguing for the abolition of money, only have one form of political intevention - the debate. (I've had a soft spot for them ever since one of their number engaged in a year-long correspondence with a rather spotty 16 year old who had written a letter to the local newspaper in the 1970s. The letters I received weren't formulaic, but long, detailed responses to the points I had raised in my letters. ) This raises the question though: what is it about the SPGB and MySpace that generated this number of 'friends', and what might it signify?
It's good to know that as well the page reaching out to a new generation of readers, it also has cause to occasionally drop into the cyber-lap of the former subscriber/last century reader/yesterday's political adversary.
As the author of the quote, Steve Walker, teaches at Leeds Metropolitan University, perhaps he has been known to break biscuits with that well known ex-SPGBer at the other ivory tower in Leeds?
And, in answer to his closing question: "What might it signify?"
Probably sod all . . . except that with the innovation of publicising the Standard on MySpace, we've hopefully pushed the average age of the magazine's readership down to 71 years . . . and, for the casual peruser of the myspace page, forever associated revolutionary socialism with an impeccable taste in music.