Social networks are - or were - media darlings, and all are part of a new wave of Internet hyperbole. Though millions of dollars may not have been invested and lost on these enterprises, untold hours of airtime, pages of text, and human effort have been and continue to be wasted on each of them. Each site approaches the social-networking paradigm differently, yet they all share a common thread: overreaching ambition and impossible expectations. They live, to an extent, inside the second Internet bubble.

MySpace could be the first to collapse. It has now suffered the same fate as the millions of personal Web sites that sprang up in the mid 1990s: It's huge, ugly, unmonitored, unrestrained, and pointless. Unlike those sites, however, MySpace offers an overarching organization and a search engine to find all kinds of content and, of course, new MySpace friends. Unfortunately, it's filled with untold numbers of mostly empty site shells that will never be completed. In the 1990s, we called these "ghost sites." You would occasionally bump into one via search or, more often, through a cross-link from another personal Web site that was never updated. Today, these MySpace shells are like the garbage in an Internet landfill. There are so many that you can barely get to the good stuff?if there is any.

The other big problem?and the surprising connection between MySpace and the personal Web sites of the first Internet bubble?is that they all look like garbage. Seriously, have you ever looked at a MySpace page? The frames are ugly, the backgrounds even uglier, and the overall look is more random than a critique by Paula Abdul.

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