We’ve been talking a lot about social networks lately. I’ve said many times that I don’t get MySpace. A few folks have tried to explain it to me. Nevertheless, when I look at MySpace, I still see the worst of ugly Geocities and walled-off AOL all rolled into one. It’s worse than Prodigy. It’s GEnie on crack.
It’s a gallery of bad web design, user unfriendliness, intrusive advertising and dead end links. I don’t care if the whole world is there, it’s ugly. Horrible, I tell you.
And I ought to know. I just got back from wandering around MySpace for a couple of hours. My header hurts, my feed stinks and I most certainly don’t love MySpace.
Here’s how it started.
I noticed the other day that a musician buddy of mine has a MySpace page. His looks like everyone else’s, so I’m not picking on him when I use his page as an entry point to the many things I dislike about MySpace. Go to any MySpace page and you can follow along, because they all look the same. Bad.
First, music starts to play automatically. If it were a MIDI file instead of a good song (my friend is a great songwriter), I’d think I was back in the nineties. It’s the same on the MySpace pages of two other people I used to know, whose MySpace pages I found in the chaos that passes for Friends and Comments at the bottom of my buddy’s page.
There are blog-like elements to a MySpace page. Clicking on “subscribe to this blog” is not one of them, however, as that leads to yet another page stating that you have to be a “member” to do that. Stalwart potential subscribers can click over to the “View All Blog Entries” page where there is an actual RSS link- where you get short partial feeds. A lot of work for very little return.
Friends and Comments. Where to start. There are a ton of pictures at the bottom of the page. Some of them are called Comments, but the format screams Guestbook. Then there are the Friends, that mythical connection that is supposed to make MySpace the great community. Leaving the cubist-like formatting aside for a moment, you can only have Friends who have MySpace accounts- a symptom of the AOL-era closed system. And based on the lists I saw on the pages I visited, the only requirement for Friendship is fame or asking to be listed.
Jimmy Buffett has 106,637 MySpace “friends.” If that’s a social network, then the phone book is a social network.
It makes Twitter seem like a family reunion.
I also spent some time on the MySpace pages of another songwriter I know. His page is slightly less ugly and less user friendly.
There’s a pictures link. That leads back to the main MySpace page.
There’s a videos link. That leads to an empty page.
There’s another jumble of Friends and Comments. For me to poop on.
Let’s summarize the devastation. Horrible layout. Ugly design. Music playing automatically. Hundreds of so-called Friends, many of them famous people who happen to have a MySpace page. I’m not feeling the community.
Particularly when you can go to any number of blogging services, get a free blog with a template that is not migraine producing and be up and running within minutes. No html required. And if you want to link to famous people, you can still do it. Here’s a link to Roger McGuinn. Here’s one to Lloyd Cole. Here’s one to Steve Rubel.
I think the social networking closed site as online Mecca story is a myth driven by people who want to keep the content producing public behind the walls so they can make money off of the content they produce.