Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Space vs. Face

In “Hot Social Networking Site Cools as Facebook Grows” by Tim Arango, Erin Polley captures MySpace’s decline:
“To me, it was kind of a precursor to how Facebook is now, where everyone is on it, and it’s almost a necessity,” said Ms. Polley, who added that she had not logged on to MySpace in years because it became “amateurish” and “boorish” and too focused on celebrities and music.

“Every time I logged on it was just messages from bands I barely heard of,” she said. “Facebook allows you to actually connect with real people, rather than bands or celebrities.”
The corollary is that, because MySpace site is klunky, slow to load, and focused on promoting minor musicians that few young people and fewer older people know, there just aren’t that many people I know on MySpace to “friend.” Many who began on MySpace gravitated to Facebook, where the focus is on a clean interface and shared status updates, photos, videos, and links—the very things people might discuss if they were face to face. Even my favorite musicians moved over to Facebook, which now faces the challenge of staying ahead of its base without mucking up its interface. Facebook does show periodic signs of trying to alienate its users through functionality and design changes and alterations to privacy settings, nearly all of which seem to upset a large number of users who prefer consistency and seamlessness. Those who don’t learn from the competitor’s past are just as doomed.

It’s easy to forget early starter classmates.com, which still charges an annual fee just so you can see who signed your guest book and have access to other weakly implemented features that Facebook offers freely. How that model survives and how long it will continue to do so is a mystery to me—more of my classmates are on Facebook than ever signed onto Classmates, paid or unpaid. Not that Classmates has been bad for me—I’ve reconnected with a few people through it. But that’s the key—only a few, and we quickly took the conversation off Classmates and its awful interface.

As for the unknown person (possibly not a classmate) who recently signed my guestbook—find me on Facebook.

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