A BOOK ABOUT SOCIAL networking is like suspended animation: Remember those old cartoons in which Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner would suddenly be suspended mid-air, right at the most dramatic moment of the fastest action of the entire episode, the Coyote within millimeters of (and yet so very far from) the ultimate attainment? Of course, in the case of this book, the ultimate attainment is enough public understanding of MySpace and teen social networking to allow for just the right balance of free expression and safety.
Our challenge is that not only are MySpace, social networking, and the Web moving targets, but so is public awareness. By its very nature the user-driven Web is unpredictable. It's a collective product, process, experience, and experiment. So all of us are determining where the Web is headed, and ideally we're safety-trained, critically thinking participants. But despite this inherent unpredictability, there are some things we're pretty sure about from close observation since the early days of the Web.