Thursday, 3 December 2009

Bye Bye Myspace?

I remember when I first started using MySpace. I was chatting to a friend from Australia, we were both bored and he said I should check out this thing called MySpace. I set up a profile and filled in some simple information. After browsing through a selection of other profiles I soon learnt that with some basic html you could personalise your profile in any way you wanted. I spent days playing around with my profile and adding new friends.

MySpace was big when I was at school, everyone had a profile. Most people checked their profiles several times a day and eventually the school blocked MySpace access (along with anything else of interest.) Fast forward a few years and MySpace is only ever mentioned with disdain and Facebook is the only social networking site that any of my friends use.

When Facebook first arrived on the scene, no one was interested. It was all very clinical and bland, it lacked any personality. Your MySpace profile was a reflection on your personality and made a big statement about who you were. Facebook on the other hand had the one size fits all approach and wasn’t the creative outlet that we demanded.

As time went on however MySpace slowed down. It was full of spam, pages took far too long to load due to excessive images, videos and flash plug-ins. Communicating with friends was slow and difficult and this allowed the once bland Facebook to launch its attack. Facebook became the easiest way to find your friends, send messages and post comments in a very effective manner. Communication was now the key, with no easy way to find particular friends in your friend list it just didn’t give the fast results you wanted.

When I started university, the only reason we used MySpace was to listen to music on band profiles. It was a legal way to check out a bands music before you saw them at a gig or bought the album. It was also a great place to discover new bands. Facebook use increased because it was an easy and informal way to chat with people you had just met in halls or at social events. MySpace was about individuality and personal expression whereas Facebook focussed on communication.

I think MySpace appealed to a younger audience who cannot go out whenever they want, it allowed them to create a persona, much like with role playing games such as World of Warcraft, and talk to people that they may not ever know in the real world. Older users, who are more independent and actually know most of the people on their friends list, just need a method of communication and something to help them procrastinate, avoiding work at all costs.

Today I check my MySpace profile every couple of weeks if I am bored just to see if I have any messages or comments but cannot remember the last time I actually had any. There is an amusing article on Platform Magazines website where the writers look back at their profiles. It is like visiting a former self because as they discuss, no one has changed their profiles since 2006 and it is a chance to take a nostalgic visit down memory lane.

With founder Tom Anderson now shafted, Rupert Murdoch has set out a new direction for MySpace. It is weird that just a the day before The Independent published it’s article, The Telegraph recieved some information on the new direction that MySpace will be going in. The new vision is that of a creative outlet for all young people’s talents, not just the focus on music. Only time will tell if they can restore themselves to their former glory. MySpace will also be playing catch up in the free ad based music streaming services. With its launch being delayed once again, services such as the hugely popular Spotify and have even longer to attract new customers and with MySpace’s somewhat tarnished reputation, I find it hard to see how they will be able to regain the lost ground.

It’s strange to think that something that was so important just a few years ago is probably now going to slowly disappear in to the ether without anyone really caring, I guess it’s a reflection of the ridiculously fast and continuously evolving world we live in. I am not really sad to see MySpace go; the only question that its disappearance leaves unanswered is, who will be next?

P.S. Perhaps in a few years all that will be left of MySpace will be this wonderful spoof clip, MySpace the Movie.

This blog was originally written for Face Youth Lab

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