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February 24th, 2006

I Don’t Get MySpace

I have to admit it: I just don’t get the appeal behind MySpace. I’m not sure if that makes me old, cynical, or a combination of both.

MySpace is pretty hot with the kids nowadays, it seems. I see a lot of people with MySpace profiles and pages there, but I haven’t ventured to the site much because I haven’t signed up for it. It seems to be nothing more than crossed with a basic blogging tool, with a bit of Friendster thrown in. Sure, sure, there are bands and stuff on there – but I still prefer to visit an actual website by a band versus a profile page with a player on it.

Plus, News Corporation owns it. That’s not so hot.

I’m okay with not being on MySpace – I’m just unclear on what the appeal is.

Posted in Technology

Marcus Mackey September 24, 2006, 6:12 am

I have a MySpace, and I think part of the allure is that it’s like a blog site where you can have your friends come visit, post bulletins, chat, post photos, and have forums for specific groups all in one place without spending a dime on hosting space, using a proper blog app., and without having to have the level of know-how (or time/dedication) in making a snazzy blog site. While some of us are technical enough to tinker and make a quality site ::raises hand:: with another product, some people want something prefab and a few script sites to monkey with and drop in a generated theme and be done. They also want it for cheap or free, and MySpace meets that criteria.

The reason I got it, wasn’t to get 30,000 friends… the reason I got it was a few friends and even a family member of mine got it so I figured with them having it, it made sense to get it to keep in touch and horse around with. I have used it quite a bit (and still only have around 80 friends, even after having the site for almost a year; many of which I know from online racing, from real life, or friends of friends, etc.) because while it’s not the most intuitive product out there, it’s a fairly intuitive free product that offers some customizing while being able to link up with friends and encounter other people with similar interests’ or tastes. I will admit that Blogger is much better at blogging, but it doesn’t offer the bulk of what MySpace does on top of it’s ability to blog, nor is it built around a community (better or worse) nearly as much as how MySpace is.

I can safely say that yes, it’s very poorly written and devised even as I see some good in the idea myself. Not just the Coldfusion aspect, but the lack of validating xHTML, the lack of using DIV’s for the layout of a product that has become this big and most certainly is causing a performance slowdown, the weird CSS names for various cells and divs.

I also find the band inclusions and the lack of breadth of choice of songs by the bands to be a problem, as marketing new/old songs by various artists is a positive and I think more bands should include more of their library. Having other songs accessible for personalization of ones’ profiles still do the artists a service, esp. as long as the songs posted aren’t linked for download. Then again, even some artists’ MySpace sites have inadvertently posted content for download and later corrected their mistake, likely giving 1,000’s of people a free copy of a song or songs. Error or not… with the RIAA cracking down on illegal downloads, it’d be hard to justify anything of this nature as illegal when it’s posted with the download link active, making it seem like a kindly posted freebie.

I can also understand if it started out as a pet project and became huge that some of this would be things that would take time, but as huge as MySpace has become as a sort of “phenomenon”, you would think rather than patching the massive crud codebase to advance it (which often seems like one fix breaks 20 other things)… that they’d go through the ground-level rewrite and give MySpace 2.0 or 3.0 or whatever it’d be called to the public and right all of the wrongs. The longer they wait with the various aspects that hamstring it, the longer the chance another rival will step up and offer all that they offer and more. Microsoft has stated they plan on offering their own product similar to it, and while I’m never one to hedge on Microsoft succeeding at anything… as much of a conundrum as MySpace can be, I am not sure that Microsoft could execute that much worse, sadly.

The problem, as with anything, is that there’s also not sufficient counter-measures to prevent the good attributes of the service from being abused. Considering the infrequent spam cycling of porn “friend requests” that the site is plagued with, it reminds me of the problems group chats on AIM have suffered almost since the start. With no moderators or little counter-measures, comes mass exodus. None of that helps the user level experience, which like AOL… will shrink in userbase as more and better options are made available, or more from the disgust people endure from things that shouldn’t happen.

I can think of other apps. that offer similar capabilities’ in some aspect (Community Builder for Simple Machines Forum comes to mind), but they require user-level investment, require a user buying a host and installing the applications, and they don’t offer nearly the customizations per user. I think that, that is a key part of the service… is this seamless unity and ability to hunt around and check out what other people do to set themselves apart, but also the ability to find people of like interests in one way or another, and to check out musicians, artists, etc. It’s not something that is for everybody, it might not really succeed at all that it’s designed for (i.e. it’s networking leaves a lot to be desired, it’s platform support isn’t great, it might be too big for it’s own good, etc.) but for some people it’s enough of what they need combined with more features than the competition, and presents the right balance. It just could use to be executed a bit better IMHO and provide greater flexibility, options for administration on your page, and well… more features but streamlining as well.

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