MySpace: Needs work

By Steve Outing

I have to say, I don’t really get it with MySpace. Why is it SO popular? It doesn’t seem deserving of its millions and millions of users. No, I’m not talking about why its brand of social networking is a hit. I get that. It’s just that MySpace seems so, well, lame in many ways.

I went to the site yesterday and had forgotten my password. Asked the site to send me my password, then waited … and waited … and it finally showed up an hour later. Most competent sites manage to fulfill a password request in seconds, not minutes. … And on the e-mail containing my password was this footer:

©2003 MySpace.com. All Rights Reserved.

Umm, this is a site that Rupert Murdoch paid more than a half billion dollars to acquire and it can’t even do basic stuff right like get the correct year?

More MySpace irritations from when I’ve used the site: 1. Content and ad blocks that fairly regularly show up blank (probably due to overloaded servers); 2. the flashing banner ads that go on your personal page by default; 3. the difficulty in finding other people you know (I find its search functionality to be really poor); and 4. how many users’ profile pages extend wider than normal screen width.

Most of my complaints are stuff you might expect from a small beta site. How does MySpace get away with such poor performance and quality control while still succeeding? I don’t get it.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

3 Responses to "MySpace: Needs work"

  1. deb
    deb 10 years ago .Reply

    I doubt anyone, even Tom, ever imagined that MySpace would become such a mega-site. It hit its tipping point without the functionality. Why should it change when Murdock tosses his dough into the trend? Why spend money to make it more functional or tweak any of the little details?

    And, by the way, were people over 30 ever suppose to get this site? Seriously, it hit it’s tipping point by promoting bands to a kids in the 18 to 34 range. (You could probably push the age range lower, say 15, and realize that really any age over 25 is pushing it.)

    Even more fun, the kids learned that with a little knowledge of CSS they could tweak their “space” just about any way they wanted. Then, they could pick exactly the friends to whom they wanted to post messages, bulletins and blogs. So the site, essentially, is all about expressing oneself exactly the way one wants and staying in touch with “your special circle.” With those two concepts alone, Tom became the pied piper of the Internet.

    Once MySpace captured the majority of its youthful audience, which is by far the ones with the most throw-away cash, the rest just rolled. (I wonder how many people join just to see what all the fuss is about.)

    Now the question is: how long will this ride last? Some say the site has “jumped the shark.” Plenty of competitors are out there too, so who knows, right?

  2. whetstone
    whetstone 10 years ago .Reply

    Slashdot has a good thread on this subject–it’s interesting reading the opinions of hardcore computer geeks on MySpace. This, however, really stood out (can’t figure out how to link to the comment, but it’s called “Like the BBS” from user inKubus):

    “I just finished watching the BBS Documentary [bbsdocumentary.com] and it reminded me about why BBS’s were so cool. I mean, besides bringing the power of global communications to the common man at a low expense, it brought about this whole new online community.

    “Many of the interviews talk about how impersonal the internet is, the fact that you might be one in 50,000 people on a newsgroup versus one of 100 or 200 on a BBS. The fact is, before myspace-type sites, it was pretty difficult to create a small online community of your friends without some decent computer skills. Sure, there was IRC, but it was difficult to create static content there. Sure, there were search sites like Classmates.com but no one ever went to them.

    “Myspace is really quite primitive, as everyone knows. It’s just a simple database blog. Where it shines is the search feature in combination with the ease of custom publishing. You can search for old friends, search by hometown, etc. And with the inclusion of music and video clips, it’s a whole multimedia experience. I think that it’s the closest thing to the old personal community feeling the BBS had than anything else.

    “Sure, there’s a lot missing, but I think that if someone were to look at the sucessful old BBS’ and modeled a new “Social Networking” site after them (real time chat, files, message boards, multi-player games based on login, just more areas and features), it could be real successful in a hurry. MySpace just doesn’t do enough. It’s all anyone has right now, of course.”

    I think his point is extremely well-taken. MySpace is a killer combination of pure social networking (ie Friendster) and blogs–it combines the benefits of the former with more flexibility, and the benefits of the latter without the need for technical expertise.

    True, it looks like crap, but so do high school yearbooks; it’s inconvenient, but so is text messaging. Young people flock to structured–but not too structured–means of self-expression and communication. On some level, MySpace isn’t all that different from a mall–an aesthetically horrifying agglomeration of noise, garish design, inappropriate clothing, and prepackaged modes of expression. And it works great, depending on what you mean by that.

    I guess what I’m saying is–there is a weird logic behind MySpace’s aesthetic, even if they didn’t intend it that way.

  3. alan macleese
    alan macleese 10 years ago .Reply

    Steve Outing:
    I have spent much time of late checking out MySpace in concert with L.A. blogger Trent Lapinski; indeed we have been “on the case” since late March. For perhaps a different slant on MySpace, check out Lapinski’s blog and my posts on BuzzMachine, Scobleizer, Konspiracy Korners. Check out first, for clarity’s sack, my first post on ‘Wiederhorn Coleman Murdoch MySpace’ on April 8 on the Catbird Forum of the Elephant Nest. A lot of untold — by the MSM — stuff went on and is still going on, or at least that’s the take fromHallowellMaine. Regards, al macleese

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