Sunday, March 14, 2010

Misty Watercolour MySpace Memories...

A few nights ago, "myspacemories" was a Canadian trending topic on Twitter when I did the above screengrab. It was interesting seeing people wax nostalgic about a site that has ceased to be relevant to many. Things that people recalled {among others}::
  1. Who made the cut of users "top" 8/10 friends
  2. Befriending large numbers of people
  3. Meeting random people
  4. The "anarchy" of HTML formatting

While I've been hoping that MySpace and its brand can make a recovery as an entertainment social portal, loss of their CEO who was only in charge for a year doesn't bode well, but I know the site isn't going away any time soon.

I've been thinking about the decline of MySpace and the rise of Facebook. Was it the spam, the usability, white flight, or the fact that Facebook was just a shiny new toy circa 2007? My take is that it didn't respond to the challenge of Facebook in a timely or adequate manner. I think it makes sense to parse the effects of MySpace decline and Facebook's rise::
  1. MySpace wasn't innovating and had a relatively poorer user experience
  2. MySpace was troubled with spam and media stories of sexual predators on the site
  3. Facebook offered a more structured user experience that was particularly appealing to those who were later adopters to social networking
  4. Facebook offered a more "legitimized" presence that was more amenable to organizations and institutions, fueling its growth and perceived relevance
  5. Facebook's growth was enabled by its structure and the zeitgeist of the Internet, where users created social networks built upon past and present real-life contacts, not random strangers
  6. In the competition for users' time, Facebook's momentum and activity level made it more relevant for users
In late December, Facebook offered some insights into their users and the site's diversity. While I can quibble with their methodology, I'll set that aside. One of the graphics they offered showed how Asians and Whites have have been historically over-represented, while Blacks and Hispanics have been sizeably underrepresented until fairly recently::

At the end of the day, Facebook offers a very conventional and sanitized user experience that's based on one's social networks and these networks will tend towards homophily and isomorphism. In terms of its appeal, I would surmise that it would be the strongest for the socioeconomic {SES} and racial categories who were on the site first. Gradually, over time, as more users from lower SES categories, blacks, and Hispanics obtain a relative critical mass, the more appeal it will have for these groups. The interesting question will be what the narratives of class and race will be on Facebook, as it becomes increasingly mainstream.

Twitterversion:: Thoughts on Myspacememories as a trending topic & the fall of MySpace & the rise of Facebook. @Prof_K

Song:: Barbara Streisand-"Memories"

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