by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & Music Networking & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & here's nothing like being dropped in a foreign land to make you find value in those things you take for granted. The foreign land -- for me, this week -- has been the Midwest. The thing I'd taken for granted is musical communion.

I've gone eight days with no musical freshness of any kind. The friend I'm visiting -- as good a communalist as any -- has been experiencing the same problem since she got here six months ago. Having thought, and having written, that the Internet was going to democratize information -- making good pop easily available and findable -- this is troubling to me.

The Internet ain't working.

MySpace has failed, a victim of its own success and laissez-faire attitude to the way bands and people can solicit one another. The site provides no firewall, and the onrushing flood of friend requests has me hitting deny as soon as I figure out if a band's local or not. In terms of developing critical, directed peer communion -- you have your friends, they can dedicate things to you -- iLike is a good start, but it's set up to be inclusive. Cool to a point, but like all social sites, friend creep waters down efficacy.

There's no musical freshness in my life this week because I'm not around my (flesh and blood) network of music fiends, those people I trust to comb through their little corner of pop-topia and deliver unto me the gems -- as I deliver gems unto them, biblical-like.

In this brave new world of social networking, where's the site that lets music geeks create an inner circle of pop fiends -- people they really trust to tell them what's hot, holding others at arm's length? It doesn't exist. Facebook began as a way to share photos inside an exclusive core of trusted people. We need a Musicbook. Until that happens, there'll be nothing on the leading edge that compares to the old school. Nothing like hanging out (albeit perhaps via e-mail or IM) with friends, listening to records (digital ones, most likely), getting sage advice and being turned on by the unexpected.

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