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I'm not quite certain who this space belongs to any more.
June 12, 2011 2:47 PM   Subscribe

MySpace was once the big name in social networking, but things changed after being purchased by Newscorp in 2005. An investor group, fronted by Bobby Kotick of Activision, is in talks to buy the beleaguered social network, after several false starts from other interested parties. Want to feel old? A trending topic at Twitter (#WhenIHadAMySpace) has users reminiscing fondly (and not so fondly) about thesite.
posted by codacorolla (101 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Even Myspace seems to prefer Twitter.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:59 PM on June 12, 2011


Who at MySpace could've imagined that a competitor could would along and, by not completely sucking, steal their entire userbase?
posted by mullingitover at 3:00 PM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Who at MySpace could've imagined that a competitor could would along and, by not completely sucking, steal their entire userbase?

The guys previously working at Friendster?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:01 PM on June 12, 2011 [31 favorites]


The thing I loved so much about MySpace was that I was able to peruse the Encyclopedia Metallum by region, find bands that look intriguing and hit their MySpace page for some songs. You'd be surprised how many metal bands in the furthest corners of the world had MySpace accounts and actually had songs to show off. I found some great shit that way.
posted by NoMich at 3:05 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Want to feel old? --- Pfft. That doesn't make me feel old because I was already telling you kids to get off my lawn long before you had a myspace.
posted by crunchland at 3:07 PM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


From twitter: "#whenihadamyspace i would always feel some type when i sent a message 2 a chick and saw that they read the message but didn't write back!"

Hmm.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:15 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The thing is, MySpace was already showing signs of waning when Newscorp bought it. It was starting to be the brunt of mainstream jokes, Friendster was sucking on the same teat, Facebook was ditching its college-friends focus and was on the rise, it was working on re-inventing itself as the go-to place for indy-ish music, film & culture - and that last is what Newscorp was interested in. It had a bit of a kick in popularity after that - mainstream media attention will do that - but, ultimately, it was already doomed to the downward slide that is the fate of all fads.

I remember thinking at the time that Rupert had made yet another bad decision in his many attempts to grab some of the newfangled internet market.
posted by Pinback at 3:17 PM on June 12, 2011


Not just metal, I'd suspect that myspace still has the biggest coverage of the offbeat and obscure in terms of band/artist pages.

I am pretty much constantly listening to new (to me - life is too short, and there are too many out there, to listen to the same band twice!) bands and hunting down more from an artist almost always brings up myspace; though soundcloud/bandcamp/facebook are taking over more and more.
posted by titus-g at 3:31 PM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Don't let the post fool you - I'd much rather that people were able to design their own digital places with MySpace than locked into the drab professional template of a Facebook page. MySpace reminds me of Geocities when I was a kid. I mocked it at the time, but I do dearly miss that kind of DIY, low rent charm. Who needs to learn HTML, or how the web works at any level beyond clicking buttons, when you have a toaster-like appliance to do all the hard stuff?
posted by codacorolla at 3:37 PM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


myspace totally has the music thing cornered still

i don't belong to any of the social network sites and i occasionally end up on myspace checking out bands

i can say i use myspace more than friendster, they must be doing something right still
posted by nathancaswell at 3:40 PM on June 12, 2011


er not friendster, facebook... not trying to seem cool i swear
posted by nathancaswell at 3:40 PM on June 12, 2011


i aint neva use to convo wit othas i use to be tryna find out how to keep my pg on top of da game .stay putn in codes lol.

Good god, get the fuck off my internet.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 3:51 PM on June 12, 2011 [24 favorites]


Six Degrees is back? Whoa.
posted by emelenjr at 3:53 PM on June 12, 2011


Can we just trade facebook in and go back to myspace?
posted by loquacious at 3:53 PM on June 12, 2011


THANKS FOR THE ADD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by mark242 at 4:00 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the most telling part of this is when I went to the HuffPo link above and saw a popup asking if I wanted to connect to Facebook.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 4:01 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


ORKUT 4 LYFE YO.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:01 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Myspace is still one of the most poorly programmed pieces of shit on the internet. That being said, the one useful feature it has is the abilty to put in a city or zipcode and it will tell you what bands are playing in the area. It has come in handy the last few times I've been on vacation and wanted to go see some live music.
posted by chillmost at 4:03 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


MySpace was my one-stop shop for 5mb jpegs of glittering unicorns carrying angels over rainbows with the caption "Just Showin' Some Love." Other than that, yes - utter shit.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 4:13 PM on June 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


I never understood why MySpace didn't offer its users a "force normal stylesheet" option that would make everyone's pages use the default stylesheet. Wouldn't hurt anybody. All the dumbasses could have their glitter backgrounds and yellow-on-white color schemes, and the rest of us could ACTUALLY USE THE SITE.

I swear, half the reason people deserted to Facebook was that it didn't look like the dog's breakfast.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:14 PM on June 12, 2011 [20 favorites]


.... make everyone (else)'s pages (appear to) use the default stylesheet
posted by Afroblanco at 4:16 PM on June 12, 2011


So, as on the end of this month, I will no longer work at MySpace. It's been over five and a half years. It's definitely wrong to say it was waning already when newscorp acquired it, because that was shortly before I started and traffic sharply increased for a couple of years after that - I know very well, because I wrote most of the middle tier systems that supported it. (And I made the effort to open source most of that. The documentation is... lacking..., and I don't want to link it here for fear of it seeming like self promotion, but it's called Data Relay if you're interested in looking it up)

We were adding a million users every few days for a long time. Yes, a lot of them were spammers and duplicate accounts, but growing at that rate was still an amazing challenge. People get up our asses about not using open source software or off the shelf things, but what they don't realize is that none of the current scaling technologies existed yet. We didn't write it ourselves because we wanted to, we did because every piece of off the shelf software buckled instantly. People that came in new or to consult always had a big ego about how they could do better than us, since we had and have a terrible reputation, but once they actually saw the read/write ratios and user experience demands we faced, they generally shut their mouths and got to work.

Yes, myspace was ugly. No, it wasn't easy to use. But I'm proud of the backend work we did, and it's pretty amazing to have been part of changing the landscape of the internet. Friendster was earlier, but it wasn't until MySpace that social networking became a household name. I think a big part of why MySpace got so much disdain was because it was the next wave of Normal People Using the Internet, following AOL and Geocities, but absolutely dwarfing them in size and adoption by the general public. MySpace's users, for the most part, were not Our People; they were not all that technically savvy, and the tech community was not happy about that.

We took over from Friendster because they got unusably slow, and it was my job to keep that from happening to us. I won't say the site always performed well, but for the most part it DID work, and it certainly didn't slow down like friendster did. I worked with some of the best database people I've ever met, and are probably still among the best in the field. At about the time facebook was catching up to us userbase and traffic wise, we had one quarter the number of servers they did. And if you look at their technology talks now, their arc was virtually identical to ours - start using a technology platform, realize it can't possibly scale to your needs, and then write an insane amount of custom code.

Of course, I'm proud of what we accomplished, but I'm well aware that there are a LOT of mistakes made. In my opinion, the short answer to why Facebook took over was that they did a good job focusing on features necessary to users and implementing them well, and didn't spread themselves too thin implementing a lot of shit that didn't matter to anyone but advertisers. The biggest problem I saw from fox's influence was the demand to grow headcount. For a decent chunk of time we were #3 for traffic on the internet, behind yahoo and google. Fox saw them as their competitors, and since they had thousands of employees they thought we clearly needed to grow from the couple hundred, and fast.

There are a lot of reasons I'm leaving, and I don't really want to get into them, but where I'm working next is almost entirely ex-myspacers, and I can't wait to work with them again. There were many reorgs, and we steadily most of the brilliant people that I loved working with and were a big part of making my job awesome. The hate has been hard to take sometimes, but in the end nearly everyone in the internet connected world has used the site in one way or another, or at the very least knows what it is. And that's kind of neat.
posted by flaterik at 4:16 PM on June 12, 2011 [237 favorites]


Funny, I just deleted my Myspace a couple of days ago after realizing I hadn't used it in about 5 years.

I think I stopped using it after everyones pages started looking like webpages from Geocities/Tripod circa 1995.
posted by littlesq at 4:19 PM on June 12, 2011


Pinback: I remember thinking at the time that Rupert had made yet another bad decision in his many attempts to grab some of the newfangled internet market."

Starting with Dephi:
In 1993 Delphi was sold to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. It had 125,000 text-based customers in 1995, but by 1996 was down to less than 5,000 by some accounts, 50,000 by others.
posted by psyche7 at 4:19 PM on June 12, 2011


I never understood why MySpace didn't offer its users a "force normal stylesheet" option that would make everyone's pages use the default stylesheet. Wouldn't hurt anybody. All the dumbasses could have their glitter backgrounds and yellow-on-white color schemes, and the rest of us could ACTUALLY USE THE SITE.

That was implemented. It didn't really take off, and it actually caused user complaints.

Y'all have NO IDEA how much people loved their hideous pages. Any change that had any impact on their carefully crafted cruft would generate FLOODS of messages to Tom. It kind of taught me a lesson that a certain point you have to stop trying to please the complainers and just DO IT. Facebook pissed people off a few times with massive changes, but they stuck to their guns and it allowed them to innovate and implement much more rapidly than we could, because we kept listening to the squeaky wheels.

Oh, and if you were wondering - he was actually reading them. He did have people sifting through them, but for quite a while the most likely person I'd get a bug report from at 2 in the morning was Tom, who would be in the process of communicating with the user to get a better idea what was wrong.
posted by flaterik at 4:21 PM on June 12, 2011 [35 favorites]


Interestingly, I feel like there's still an open market for a good, solid music community site. Pandora, LastFM, and most recently Grooveshark have all missed the boat on this. Facebook doesn't even seem interested, and that's probably for the best. I feel like MySpace could have done a good job at this, had they been solely focused on that use case. I mean, MySpace still where I go when I hear of a new local band and I wanna check out their tracks. But since nobody logs in anymore, it's pretty useless as a community.

I wonder why nobody's solved this problem yet...
posted by Afroblanco at 4:22 PM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I mean, it's weird, right? We have sites that track concerts. We have sites that play music. We have sites for selling tickets. We have sites for selling music. We have discussion forums. We have social networks. But nobody has tied them all together, and from what I can tell nobody's even trying.

Weird.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:26 PM on June 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Afroblanco, if you want to see me nearly explode in frustration all you need is for me to start talking about that subject. I have NO IDEA why didn't focus on the social aspects of music loving.

I'll stop now, unless anyone has questions. I feel a lot more free to talk than I did previously, since most of this is in the past now.
posted by flaterik at 4:26 PM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


flaterik : I feel your pain. If for no other reason than that I wish such an all-encompassing music site actually existed. I would totally use it. It probably will some day, but what gets me is how none of the most likely suspects seem to be putting any serious effort into it.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:32 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who at MySpace could've imagined that a competitor could would along and, by not completely sucking, steal their entire userbase?

There's a MySpace competitor that doesn't completely suck?
posted by DU at 4:32 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the most fascinating things danah boyd wrote about (in 2007) is class differences between Facebook and MySpace. The essay's not long and worth a read, but the nut of it is 'MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, "burnouts," "alternative kids," "art fags," punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn't play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm.' Also this: "Soldiers are on MySpace; officers are on Facebook."

So where did all the alternateens and enlisted military go? One partial answer may be Twitter.
posted by Nelson at 4:34 PM on June 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


As someone who #neverhadamyspace, what does "owning a pic" mean?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:54 PM on June 12, 2011


DU: "There's a MySpace competitor that doesn't completely suck?"

Privacy issues aside, Facebook is a breathtakingly vast improvement over MySpace. The engineering at FB is so completely beyond what MySpace had at the time that it's not even fair to compare them. It's like comparing the Wright Brothers first plane to a 747.
posted by mullingitover at 4:55 PM on June 12, 2011


Yes, myspace was ugly. No, it wasn't easy to use. But I'm proud of the backend work we did, and it's pretty amazing to have been part of changing the landscape of the internet. Friendster was earlier, but it wasn't until MySpace that social networking became a household name. I think a big part of why MySpace got so much disdain was because it was the next wave of Normal People Using the Internet, following AOL and Geocities, but absolutely dwarfing them in size and adoption by the general public. MySpace's users, for the most part, were not Our People; they were not all that technically savvy, and the tech community was not happy about that.

Thanks for the look inside of MySpace, but this comment seems especially on point.
posted by codacorolla at 4:56 PM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I had a myspace for about a week in 2005. I had just moved and it seemed like lots of people were on it. (I guess I never canceled it, so technically I still had it.) It seemed like a good idea at the time.

You should also read danah boyd's Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace, although it was written in 2007 so is almost certainly out of date.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:12 PM on June 12, 2011


I'm never going to go on Bebo again.
posted by Sk4n at 5:27 PM on June 12, 2011


On the topic if MySpace and music, Nancy Baym, who is a well-regarded internet and fandom scholar, has been working on a new project, interviewing (mostly indie, not all US) musicians about their uses of new technology and their relationships to their fans. She recently gave a talk [PDF] with some preliminary analysis of her data (qualitative, not quantitative), and one of the first things she said was that the musicians she has been talking to have overwhelmingly told her that "Myspace is dead for music." Some are using Twitter, some Facebook, some blogging, depending on what they want out of social media, but they've all given up on MySpace.

Obviously, her work is interview based, so it is not a large, random sample of all bands everywhere, but it's still interesting food for thought.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 5:41 PM on June 12, 2011


It's too bad that Myspace is losing popularity amongst musicians. I thought it was crap for social networking, but I was always happy to see a Myspace page in the Google results for a band, and would prefer to click it over some standalone web page. It was most likely the easiest way to get a streaming sample of the band's music, and a list of upcoming tour dates, presented in a somewhat standard form.
posted by grouse at 5:47 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did MySpace have the News Feed before Facebook? I feel like Facebook had that first and that it was one of the main reasons I liked it better. I remember Facebook feeling more interconnected and that being the reason I switched (as a freshman in college).

That feeling of greater interconnectedness combined with uniform layout made Facebook seem like the next generation.
posted by Defenestrator at 5:50 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't remember how I discovered this, but I like that both Walter Sobchak and Harry Tuttle have MySpace accounts, and that they are friends there.
posted by A dead Quaker at 5:51 PM on June 12, 2011


Did MySpace have the News Feed before Facebook? I feel like Facebook had that first and that it was one of the main reasons I liked it better. I remember Facebook feeling more interconnected and that being the reason I switched (as a freshman in college).

I think this was discussed on the Slate Culture Gabfest some time ago (can't recall which episode), but it was suggested that the news feed was a big reason why Facebook prevailed. With Myspace, you had to go to each of your friends' pages to see what was new with them. With Facebook, the news feed brought their updates to you on one page.
posted by good in a vacuum at 6:16 PM on June 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Facebook is a breathtakingly vast improvement over MySpace.

AOL better than CompuServe, experts agree.
posted by DU at 6:22 PM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's always leaving the house. I'm just saying...
posted by jonmc at 6:41 PM on June 12, 2011


Myspace never connected me to anyone I wasn't already in touch with. When Facebook got rolling, it was unnerving how they "found" and presented you with seemingly everyone from your past- it was like when Google appeared with search results of eerie accuracy compared to previous search engines. I'd never found anyone outside of my current correspondance on MySpace. Sure Facebook looked tidier, but like PageRank, they really had some algorithms that seemed like magic at first.
posted by bendybendy at 6:56 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I swear, half the reason people deserted to Facebook was that it didn't look like the dog's breakfast.

That, and Facebook's emphasis on real-world relationships, and early prohibition on anonymous pseudonyms. Facebook is not an "online" community.

Also, Facebook may very well have been several different sites. The current worldwide stream-of-consciousness exchange is very different from the closed-network glorified phonebook that the site grew out of.

I've been a Facebook apologist for a long time. I'd argue that it's been a net positive to society over its short lifespan to date. Right now, it's feeling a bit mismanaged and bloated, compared to the elegant and simplistic site that it began as. The introduction (and monetization of) their APi ultimately doomed the site, in my opinion, because it meant that they were no longer able to ambitiously shift the paradigm of the site every few months (and subsequently backtrack almost immediately).

Similarly, I only very recently began to buy into privacy concerns on Facebook. I always felt like it was adequately clear what I was sharing, and to whom. However, more recently, new features have unintentionally loosened some privacy restrictions without any action from the user, and I swear that there are instances where Facebook does not obey its own privacy settings. This is detestable.
posted by schmod at 7:45 PM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


So where did all the alternateens and enlisted military go?

They joined facebook along with everyone else. danah boyd's essay was hugely relevant for a brief period of time. But after that window of time closed, it turned out that there ceased to be serious class differences over who had a facebook account because everyone did.
posted by deanc at 8:14 PM on June 12, 2011


But after that window of time closed, it turned out that there ceased to be serious class differences over who had a facebook account because everyone did

There are still racial and class differences in social networking site uses, but they are appearing on other sites. New research from Ezster Hargittai and her colleagues finds that African-American college students are more likely to use Twitter than other racial/ethnic groups.

And if you're interested, here is an older study of demographic differences in the usage of Facebook, MySpace, and other SNSs.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:28 PM on June 12, 2011


I work for a music listing/gig guide website and MySpace made my job SO MUCH EASIER. Pretty much every band had tour dates, press photos, and streaming music there. I discovered amazing amounts of music on MySpace.
I use Facebook constantly but you need to use a few 3rd party apps to upload their music. Once they fix that they'll finally kill MySpace.
On a personal note, I recently backed up all my MySpace blogs and my MySpace period seems so much more exciting and FUN than my Facebook period. I was a bit younger and every week I'd post a blog full of hipster bands, neon, and excitement. Now I'm Facebook, posting to ask about when a movie is on or checking in at the same pub I always check in on.
It's amazing that MySpace could be such a huge part of my life and then vanish.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:44 PM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think a big part of why MySpace got so much disdain was because it was the next wave of Normal People Using the Internet, following AOL and Geocities,

Great point. I always wondered why people got so upset at the ugly pages of others. It hardly seems Myspace's fault if your friends have poor taste. I also think a lot of the bashing for "bad performance" Myspace got was totally unfair. I stuck with Myspace for about a year after everyone started switching to Facebook simply b/c FB was staggeringly poor, technically. There was a period of months where I could not upload a photo to Facebook. The Java applet- yes that's what they used- crashed every single time on my totally standard Windows/FF setup.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:51 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always wondered why people got so upset at the ugly pages of others. It hardly seems Myspace's fault if your friends have poor taste.

It wasn't that. At least not for me.

Thing is, most people have no clue about usability or graphic design. And I'm including myself in that group. Your average person fucking around with a stylesheet might think something looks cool, and have no idea that others can't even read it. Has nothing to do with taste.

Great example of this was background images. Background images were the worst! Something about it does a trick on my eyes.... I just can't read content when there's a background image behind it, ESPECIALLY an image that stands still while I scroll the text. Something about it... just fucks with my head. And it wouldn't matter if my friend chose a perfectly good background image. ANY background image makes it hard for me to read the text. And my friend probably just thought it looked cool.

There's something to be said for standardizing user interfaces. I think this is an oft-unrecognized reason why the web was so quick to catch on. Programs are hard to use. Software is hard to use. HTML boiled UI down to about a dozen different ways to input data ... and that was it! Something everyone could use. Forced you to keep it simple. Not everybody understands the latest gadget or gewgaw, but everybody understands simplicity.

'course then people had to go and fuck everything up with Flash, but that's a different story for another time ;)
posted by Afroblanco at 8:59 PM on June 12, 2011


The introduction (and monetization of) their APi ultimately doomed the site, in my opinion, because it meant that they were no longer able to ambitiously shift the paradigm of the site every few months

It's possible I just touched their API at a bad time, but my impression is that they're not at all afraid to ambitiously shift the paradigm of the site and kick things out from under developers in the process. I think they're closing on on half a dozen APIs at this point. It's clear that former New Best Way of Doing Things (like application tabs, which replaced the erstwhile and worthy profile boxes) are regularly deprecated to Sorry We Don't Do That Any More. And sometime last fall, they decided to just blow away their developer wiki -- where a good chunk of the search and tutorial links out there on the internet point -- and replace it with pages embedded with Bing searches of their own in-house and rather incomplete documentation (which is worse than just going 404, as the links still persist and get indexed, but are also generally worthless).

I felt so disoriented with the state of things while I was building even a very simple little application that there's a long list of things I'd rather do ahead of implementing anything important to me which would depend on their platform.

That doesn't mean that they're doing the wrong thing (as flaterik points out there's lots of reasons to just do what you're going to do and not worry about complainers), but I don't think they're particularly being held up by a commitment to their APIs.

However, more recently, new features have unintentionally loosened some privacy restrictions without any action from the user, and I swear that there are instances where Facebook does not obey its own privacy settings. This is detestable.

It is. This is the place where the worm really could turn, I think, if it's going to turn at all. The best tactic with Facebook turns out to be assuming that anything you post there will be public... but a lot of people are very annoyed when something they thought was private is publicized by a change, and also, you can't actually control what's identified with you very well.

But for me, the thing that really activates my paranoia levels is their recent augmentation of the the social tagging process with automated facial recognition hints. I don't see any reason to assume they'd ever intend personal recognition algorithms to be limited to hints for site users; they might well be better positioned than anybody else to build a personal recognition database as a service, and that would be valuable to both big business and would-be big brothers, not to mention the next app developer to get on a kick about augmented reality.

So I don't upload personal photos to Facebook anymore. It's probably a futile gesture against a future where we have to wear sunglasses and headscarves (or scramble suits) if we want anonymity, but it's mine to make for the moment, along with telling other people to be careful.
posted by weston at 9:02 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Facebook is not an "online" community.

Maybe not for you. The only reason I joined up was to keep in touch with my ex-Barbelith friends who were abandoning livejournal. Yeah, the majority of my facebook friends are people I went to high school with, coworkers and family members but the only people I really interact with on FB are my "online" friends.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:13 PM on June 12, 2011


In my opinion, the short answer to why Facebook took over was that they did a good job focusing on features necessary to users and implementing them well, and didn't spread themselves too thin implementing a lot of shit that didn't matter to anyone but advertisers.

heh. Bingo.
posted by GuyZero at 9:21 PM on June 12, 2011


The trouble with MySpace is that because the most avid users are 15-year-old girls, the entire experience feels like endless high school.

It should reinvent itself as the site where Facebook folks let their freak run wild--the place you host the cartoon version of yourself.
posted by Camofrog at 10:17 PM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


It should reinvent itself as the site where Facebook folks let their freak run wild--the place you host the cartoon version of yourself.

I really like this idea. The ads practically write themselves. "Tired of the same old boring social network? Come to MySpace and get your freak on!"
posted by Winnemac at 10:41 PM on June 12, 2011


People are reminiscing about MySpace. I love the internet.
posted by Decani at 1:29 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


MySpace reminds me of Geocities when I was a kid. I mocked it at the time, but I do dearly miss that kind of DIY, low rent charm. Who needs to learn HTML, or how the web works at any level beyond clicking buttons, when you have a toaster-like appliance to do all the hard stuff?

Becaus the things don't last, it seems.
posted by eeeeeez at 1:33 AM on June 13, 2011


Hi flaterik. We may know each other. I once printed an error log at midnight, marked the neccessary fixes and walked it from my office to your office. It was like the ninth time in a month where myspace broke their authentication stuff causing us to bleed thousands od users from our app.

One of my happiest days was when we dropped our app in MySpace. Better than that is when I dropped out of our Facebook app project.

If social community sites suck for users, they make third party developers want to kill something.
posted by Dr. Curare at 2:01 AM on June 13, 2011


It's possible we interacted, Curare, though I never did any direct work on the developer platform or with 3rd party devs so it's a bit unlikely. I tended to stay buried pretty deep in infrastructure.

There are many technical aspects of the site that I will never defend, but this is most certainly not the place for me to discuss those. Find me at a meetup and I'll talk your ear off, if you'd like.
posted by flaterik at 2:13 AM on June 13, 2011


I mean, it's weird, right? We have sites that track concerts. We have sites that play music. We have sites for selling tickets. We have sites for selling music. We have discussion forums. We have social networks. But nobody has tied them all together, and from what I can tell nobody's even trying.
Isn't Last.fm doing this? I don't use it much, mind.

I signed up for MySpace in 2006, because my then-boyfriend used it. I never saw the point of it - there was no simple way of finding other people you knew, the pages were often ugly, and I never really understood the Top 8 business. (Then-boyfriend used to take it very seriously - when we broke up I got moved out of his Top 8 and another girl moved in, and similar would happen with arguments with friends. Life is too fucking short.) At the time I had an LJ and that was so much better for what I wanted to do - write, post photos, find new interesting people. As a personal website, it just didn't really work.

I remember reading the ghetto essays a while back...LJ used to have a community called getoffmyspace, which I read in the days when snark communities didn't make me feel a bit old and angry. It seemed to be 90% laughing at fat people, poor people or teenagers who weren't very good at putting make-up on. Bebo still seems to be hugely popular with teens, particularly in Scotland and Ireland, but MySpace is a ghost town.
posted by mippy at 4:13 AM on June 13, 2011


Facebook also essentially killed off one of the first big social networking sites - FriendsReunited, which was designed for people to find their old classmates. Once Facebook got really popular here there was no need to pay a subscription to contact people and it was sold on for a fraction of its original cost. I suppose the generation that would be getting nostalgic for school reunions for the first time now would probably have grown up in an internet world...
posted by mippy at 4:16 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Friends Reunited was officially launched in July 2000. By the end of the year, it had 3,000 members, and a year later this had increased to 2.5 million

That's not even resembling "big". Not only is that less than a week of new signups for us not too long after, it's about what our average logged in number of users was. Logged in. Not the people browsing music.

Sorry, I try very hard to be polite and not be defensive, but it's been years of people who think they know what they're talking about mercilessly mocking what I poured my twenties into, doing what no one had done before with scaling user generated content... so I claim my 5 minutes to be snarky about anything that wasn't several million simultaneous logged in users being described as "big".

I really want to respond to the people here (hey, you, I'm posting right next to you) talking shit about my engineering, but I can't be even remotely nice about it, so I won't.

But I guess I have to stop calling it "our" soon.

It's amazing that MySpace could be such a huge part of my life and then vanish.

Yeah. You're telling me.
posted by flaterik at 5:06 AM on June 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


As an end-user, I never really cared about the ugliness people committed on their own pages; I lived through the GeoCities era and am pretty well inured to that.

What made me loathe MySpace was how ugly and unusable the UI was by default. Everything is cramped & cluttered with ads, and although I was able to add acquaintances and favorite bands/musicians as "Friends", that never seemed to get me anything other than incrementing the friends counter on my profile; at the time I signed up there was no aggregated activity stream, which I think is really what made Facebook so ultimately successful. I signed up for Friendster way back when and had the same reaction; "Ok, I made an account and added a bunch of people I know as friends. This is different than having them in my address book how?" It made me feel pretty much like Charlie Booker in his essay Supposing ... I'm too old for MySpace.

However, flaterik and Dr. Curare: As someone who has done a fair share of both API and infrastructure work, but never on anything anywhere near that kind of scale, my hat is off to you!
posted by usonian at 5:15 AM on June 13, 2011


That's not even resembling "big". Not only is that less than a week of new signups for us not too long after, it's about what our average logged in number of users was. Logged in. Not the people browsing music

For a website aimed at a population of 60m (this was not a global site in the same way MySpace et al are), at a time when home internet wasn't as cheap/common as it is now, it was big. This was pre-MySpace of course, and in some ways closer to a message board than that site is/was, but for the UK, both for users and media coverage, it was the first social networking site that really took off. Most people had dial-up in 2001, if they had internet access outwith the library or the limited availablily at work.
posted by mippy at 5:28 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mippy, you're right, the time and context matters. I'm just feeling defensive. I retract at least part of that :)
posted by flaterik at 5:30 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


What made me loathe MySpace was how ugly and unusable the UI was by default.
No really, we are just like you and we really wanted to change it, but we were pretty sure our users would get literal, not figurative, pitchforks and torches and storm the office demanding we die for screwing with their layouts or home page interface, which made virtually any UI improvements impossible and/or much more difficult than you think, and oh god if I didn't hate the IDEA of long form writing I would try to write a book because I have so many goddamn stories

posted by flaterik at 5:47 AM on June 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


But nobody has tied them all together, and from what I can tell nobody's even trying.

Not true. But if I don't have anything more specific to show you in a year, I owe you a beer.

That was implemented. It didn't really take off, and it actually caused user complaints.

Nothing turned me off of MySpace more than the cliche' fixed background image. Facebook got this right from the start: don't let users muck with graphic design because users don't know shit about graphic design. The ones that do? They make their own website.

Users complain about everything. What matters is if they actually jump ship. If there's one thing teenagers are good at, it's complaining but then doing absolutely nothing about it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:08 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nothing turned me off of MySpace more than the cliche' fixed background image. Facebook got this right from the start: don't let users muck with graphic design because users don't know shit about graphic design. The ones that do? They make their own website.

But where do complete novices get the idea to make their own website? What's the MySpace or Geocities equivalent that encourages beginners to fool around with the behind-the-scenes stuff of the Internet and begin to realize that they like it? It's this sort of contempt for the user that makes me not like Facebook very much, despite using it - at least you own your MySpace profile a little bit as they're scraping your data for app developers and advertisers.

I guess Twitter gives you customization options, but doesn't impinge your design on other people. You can use Twitter perfectly fine and never step foot on another user's page.
posted by codacorolla at 6:17 AM on June 13, 2011


MySpace was brilliant. Terrible, but brilliant. I was part of the vBulletin forum community in 2005 or 2006 and there was something incredible about the idea that people would rather talk to people they knew rather than to people with whom they shared a common interest. I was part of the Quality Assurance Team for Zoints, which was a start-up from the vB community that attempted to create a collective social network that tied user profiles together between forums. The UI developers were shit and at 15 years old I wasn't clever enough to tell them why nobody liked them, and the company stagnated.

Ironically, the same mindset that sunk Zoints was the one that I think is sinking MySpace now. Zoints tried to copy individual MySpace features and outdo them; they had a built-in CSS generator, they had a slightly improved "add favorite musician/book/movie" interface; they let you move profile widgets around so that you could make things look pretty. But people didn't use MySpace for the profile generators. They used MySpace for the people. And Facebook's breakthrough was realizing that the one thing people like more than seeing people is talking to people. Hence the newsfeed and the wall-to-wall and the poke. I remember seeing Facebook's profile editor, which told you to just write your favorite things in with commas, and telling one of the big Zoints guys: "This is what you're missing. People write down their favorite musicians one time. You don't need anything special. What you're bad at is making people talk."

Of course, then Facebook devised its brilliant Pages system and now writing down your favorite musician is tantamount to letting that musician push his messages to you as if you were his friend. So they were ahead of Zoints there too.

I think the real successor to the fun parts of MySpace is Tumblr. And the more I think about Tumblr, the more I think that the developers' route — they went from being a super-trendy cleanly designed tasteful quiet site to being noisy and communal and rude and immature and ugly — was kind of an awesome one. They saw that they had a community of young people trying to express themselves, and instead of pulling a Facebook and saying "This is how we want you to behave, this is how we want you to look", they started developing systems that would let those people be even noisier and ruder and uglier. Tumblr combines Facebook's newsfeed with MySpace's utter irreverence.

While I still miss the old Tumblr which was a safe haven for smart people who wanted to talk to each other, there's something pretty awesome about the Tumblr we've got now. Down with taste! Up with ugliness and noise! There's a time and a place for good conversation and it's often not with people I know in person. My friends aren't my friends because I want to create beautiful lasting works with them (except for my douchey artsy friends), they're my friends because they're fun.

MySpace was fun. For a while it was the fun capitol of the social Internet. I think I've just talked myself into missing the ugly sonofabitch.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:58 AM on June 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have tried in vain to delete my myspace accounts. I swear to god they make it impossible and fill it with technical errors to maintain a large user base...
posted by Theta States at 7:19 AM on June 13, 2011


It's this sort of contempt for the user that makes me not like Facebook very much, despite using it

(emphasis mine)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:31 AM on June 13, 2011


It's this sort of contempt for the user that makes me not like Facebook very much, despite using it

It's been discussed here before, so I won't go far into detail, but Facebook is easy entertainment, and makes my social life a lot easier. I wish I could quit it, but (at the present) I don't really want to. For me it's a bit like driving a car: I wish I could stop doing it, but it's just not feasible at the moment.
posted by codacorolla at 7:35 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You don't really want to because you can't. You either don't have the time, or the technical expertise, or the money, or any other of a hundred excuses. So you will deal with what is provided. Which was precisely my point: users like yourself can complain all they like, but they're inherently lazy and will not jump ship despite all their bitching, moaning and bellyaching.

They put on a good show, but when push comes to shove, they can't do it themselves so they deal. I hope the future MySpace refugees like flaterik are paying close attention. Make the best system you can and to hell with the complainers.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:02 AM on June 13, 2011


No really, we are just like you and we really wanted to change it, but we were pretty sure our users would get literal, not figurative, pitchforks and torches and storm the office demanding we die for screwing with their layouts or home page interface, which made virtually any UI improvements impossible and/or much more difficult than you think

Oh, I can absolutely believe it, and feel your pain. I've built enough web apps to know that even the smallest feature request is rarely as simple as the end-user seems to think it should be and can cause more problems than it solves, especially once there's an established user base (viz DeviantArt.)
posted by usonian at 9:15 AM on June 13, 2011


at the time I signed up there was no aggregated activity stream, which I think is really what made Facebook so ultimately successful

I still remember when Facebook added the News Feed and people hated it at the time.
posted by grouse at 9:32 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


In addition to my day job, I'm an online music writer, and a big part of why I still have a MySpace account is because for years MySpace was the only place to find current promotional images. You'd go to a band's official website, and the pictures would be from five years ago, but if you went to their MySpace page, the pictures would be current. That's probably not going to be the case for much longer, and that's going to be a problem for me, because I'm not going to get on Facebook. I think that Facebook and the elimination of promotional CDs (one of the only perks I get covering the industrial music scene) will probably be what drives me away from writing about music as a hobby, in the end.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:37 AM on June 13, 2011


me : But nobody has tied them all together, and from what I can tell nobody's even trying.

mippy : Isn't Last.fm doing this? I don't use it much, mind.

Civil_Disobedient : Not true. But if I don't have anything more specific to show you in a year, I owe you a beer


All the sites that I've mentioned -- ticket sites, concert tracking sites, social networks, internet radio -- okay, they're all trying. But they ain't trying too hard.

Nearly every site has a "friending" feature. And really, I just gotta laugh. I thought pitches that ended with "... and we'll make it a social network!" went out of style five years ago. Guess not. Look, a "friending" function does a social network make. That's why the "network" features of these sites are so lightly trafficked. Hell, that's the wrong way to go, anyhow.

All these services exist. What I Would Do™ is just find a way to tie them all together. Hook up to Facebook, Pandora, Last.fm, SonicLiving, Songkick, StubHub, whatever. Ask the user's permission, and then raid the fuck out of whatever the APIs make available. Use this information to deliver relevant information to the user. Not necessarily a portal, but some intelligent glue that makes sense of these sites' disparate offerings, and gives the user a good way to interact with them.

I first started thinking about this with Pandora, who, to my mind, have missed a golden opportunity in this. I mean hell, people go there to listen to music. How hard would it fucking be to offer some decent community features? Just station-sharing alone could be the basis of some really fun apps. But as it is I gotta jump through some ridiculous fucking hoops just to share a station. And really, Pandora has been a huge disappointment in this regard. They have not improved their product one iota in YEARS. Yeah, they've figured out some monetization. Yeah, they were early adopters of mobile -- which is probably what saved internet radio from SoundExchange. But what have they done to improve their product? Nothing.

And then I've seen site after site add relatively useless friending features. And then I saw MySpace -- who nearly had this market captured! - totally fail and lose their lead. And I'm like... fuuuuuuuck.

Maybe I should work on this....
posted by Afroblanco at 10:03 AM on June 13, 2011


a "friending" function does (not) a social network make
posted by Afroblanco at 10:10 AM on June 13, 2011


I think the real successor to the fun parts of MySpace is Tumblr.

Totally, totally agree. I follow a couple thousand people on Tumblr and there are large contingents of Filipino teenagers, Christian rebloggers, fashion police, anti-anorexia ranters, just-pretty-pictures, and folks posting 100+ times per day (or more) thanks to Tumblr's reblog button---all one of the many thousands of (editable) themes. The only difference I can see is that the Tumblr dashboard is infinitely more simple than the relatively complex Myspace profile.
posted by mattbucher at 11:44 AM on June 13, 2011


FB user numbers drop in the US, UK, Norway, Russia, and Canada (almost 10% in one Month for Canada).
posted by Hardcore Poser at 3:21 PM on June 13, 2011


We were discussing the FB user #s data this morning at work. My guess is that we've hit the end of Facebook's hyper-growth period and now they'll be subject to seasonally varying active users numbers like most normal websites.

Basically, school's out, so facebook is too.
posted by GuyZero at 3:24 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Except that I'd expect socializing to increase, if anything, once exams let out. Plus it's the second month in a row of declining North American user numbers.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 4:21 PM on June 13, 2011


So for various reasons I have seen MySpace's traffic numbers. They went through something that was a lot more than a slight dip. Their traffic graph looks like a hill you wouldn't want to ride a bike down. A slight dip in web usage in summer is typical for many, many web sites. My personal interpretation is that this is simply the end of their hyper-growth. Facebook has reached its saturation point throughout the English-speaking world and the monthly actives # will go up and down as I guess there are a lot of users who log on fairly infrequently. IMO the real metric is 7-day actives but we're not seeing that in this data.
posted by GuyZero at 4:28 PM on June 13, 2011


I mean, it's weird, right? We have sites that track concerts. We have sites that play music. We have sites for selling tickets. We have sites for selling music. We have discussion forums. We have social networks. But nobody has tied them all together, and from what I can tell nobody's even trying.
Isn't Last.fm doing this? I don't use it much, mind.


Last.fm is ok, but it seems entirely user-driven so band pages aren't really managed by the actual bands, so they're not entities that you can be "friends" with or really follow. Upcoming concerts are posted by users. In increasingly rare circumstances can you listen to a full song all the way through, and even then only a limited number of times. If Last.fm became something of a band/listener interface instead of (basically) a fan club, then it would be much better.

My old method of finding out about new music would be to listen to Pandora, and then once a band came on that I liked, go listen to their stuff on Myspace, since you couldn't really listen to anything on demand on Pandora. Almost all my friends on Myspace were bands, and music research is just about all I used it for. I'd log in just to see what updates bands had in my news feed.
posted by LionIndex at 6:01 PM on June 13, 2011




So for various reasons I have seen MySpace's traffic numbers. They went through something that was a lot more than a slight dip. Their traffic graph looks like a hill you wouldn't want to ride a bike down. A slight dip in web usage in summer is typical for many, many web sites. My personal interpretation is that this is simply the end of their hyper-growth. Facebook has reached its saturation point throughout the English-speaking world and the monthly actives # will go up and down as I guess there are a lot of users who log on fairly infrequently. IMO the real metric is 7-day actives but we're not seeing that in this data.


Wait... MySpace was still growing? I'm in their demographic and I assume its dead.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:15 PM on June 13, 2011


Wait... MySpace was still growing? I'm in their demographic and I assume its dead.

No, and forgive the metaphor, their traffic has been going over a cliff for over a year. I meant facebook's hyper-growth.
posted by GuyZero at 6:22 PM on June 13, 2011


(I am REALLY wishing I had edited that comment better now that it's been sidebarred. How did I miss the typo in the first sentence until now?! I'm glad people thought it was interesting enough to be put there though, I'm honored!)
posted by flaterik at 6:48 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


No really, we are just like you and we really wanted to change it, but we were pretty sure our users would get literal, not figurative, pitchforks and torches and storm the office

Flaterik, do believe it was the right decision for the company to listen to these users?
posted by ryanrs at 4:11 AM on June 14, 2011


If you're looking for a music discovery engine with limited social features, and don't mind paying, eMusic does all of that. It has a lot of different ways to find similar bands based off of different metadata and social information. It keeps track of who downloads what, and can say "users who downloaded this, also downloaded this." You can find artists you like and then go backwards through their discography, and label, to find similar sounds. Users submit guides and lists that compile similar music together. You can rate albums, and the site will tailor recommendations to those ratings. Songs have 30 second samples embedded with them in the album pages.

Unfortunately eMusic is sort of a shadow of what it was a year ago in terms of price (mostly a bargain against having a broader selection through partnerships with Sony), but it's not bad for 20 bucks a month.
posted by codacorolla at 7:25 AM on June 14, 2011


For me Soundcloud is the replacement for myspace. http://soundcloud.com/ As a musician I like that the music is front and center, not ads or jensaisquoi and you can comment in the actual waveform. It's also truly an international site. I'm a music programmer by day and I've discovered lots of cool music there.

Also as a producer I like that you can share music privately. That's how I got started with using the site. I live in Seattle but one of my best fellow producer/critic friends is in New York. We used to send a heck of a lot of mp3s back and forth via email and yousendit we had to make sure we got the exact timing of our comments right, ie, the snare sound at 0.23 is too trebly or needs more reverb. Now we just comment at the exact second. It saves so much time.

I heartily recommend checking Soundcloud out if you are looking to hear new music or are a producer or musician looking to connect with like minded people.
posted by JamesWhetzel at 8:44 AM on June 14, 2011


If you're looking for a music discovery engine with limited social features, and don't mind paying

But I do. Sorry, music biz. You guys need to hook up with my service provider, cut yourselves in for a piece of his action and stop slowing stuff down. Information may not want to be free but music most certainly does.
posted by philip-random at 10:44 AM on June 14, 2011


I love soundcloud, but I wish it had at least SOME sort of calendar system. There's actually no site serving DJs very well as an all around promotional tool.

Flaterik, do believe it was the right decision for the company to listen to these users?

It was a good idea to listen to their concerns and minimize issues for them, but I think we could've been more assertive about some changes. That said, I don't think that was the worst of our problems, it just contributed to the lack of focus.
posted by flaterik at 2:13 PM on June 14, 2011


Just wanted to say thanks, flaterik, for all the engineering insights. Thank you. Your comments also made me realize, when criticizing web design/programming/engineering, how easy it's to forget the people behind the scenes and all the hard work and emotions they have invested.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:20 PM on June 14, 2011


You're quite welcome, Foci and everyone else who was interested! If you would like to see considerably more technical detail about what I worked on, I spoke at Mix last year. The video of it is up at Microsoft's channel 9 site.

It's always been hard for me to talk about MySpace around here and elsewhere on the internet, due mostly to the amount of hate and such that gets spewed, and also because it was always hard to tell exactly what I was ALLOWED to talk about, especially before I finished open sourcing what I did. It was nice to have a chance to be candid.
posted by flaterik at 6:57 PM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


flaterik, went through your video and haven't had time to look into your source code. How different is your framework from some of the popular CQRS frameworks out there (nCQRS, etc.)? It seems like the architecture is very much the same, with yours being several folds more flexible.
posted by geoff. at 8:01 PM on June 14, 2011


Right now the sln on codeplex is broken because I'm in the middle of checking in a years worth of updates, but it should be fixed tomorrow, so give me a day before you check it out ;)

I'm actually not familiar with nCQRS, but I'll give a look over and try to answer your question.
posted by flaterik at 9:27 PM on June 14, 2011


I won't be deleting my MySpace accounts. One I still use to post my radio show playlists (because it's easy and I have years of playlists there already), and my personal account is where I first chatted with my wife. We're still not sure who asked who to be friends, or why, but we chatted about music and movies, and then we chatted when she went on vacation with her family. Some day, we can tell our kids that we met on a website that no longer exists, or changed so drastically that it might as well be something new.

I remember a comment on Slashdot from some years back, from a father who liked that his high school daughter used MySpace. Because of it, she learned HTML, and some of her classmates paid her to "pimp their pages." MySpace was a way to get into coding for some folks, dipping their toes into the giant ocean of possibilities.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:12 AM on June 15, 2011


And I wonder, at the peak, how many domains forwarded straight to MySpace? So many bands got rid of their personal websites because MySpace provided a fool-proof way of putting in a lot of useful information and connecting with fans. Music on Facebook still feels like a kludge, and the "fan pages" still look like an afterthought.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:14 AM on June 15, 2011


I really like this idea. The ads practically write themselves. "Tired of the same old boring social network? Come to MySpace and get your freak on!"

^^ wins
posted by randomstorenet at 1:09 PM on June 20, 2011


The Rise and Inglorious Fall of MySpace.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:12 AM on June 25, 2011


"Using .NET is like Fred Flintstone building a database," says David Siminoff, whose company owns the dating website JDate, which struggled with a similar platform issue. "The flexibility is minimal. It is hated by the developer community."

That is a load of horseshit. There are arguments to made about the pluses and minuses of every platform, but I don't think David Siminoff has anything useful to say about scaling technologies.
posted by flaterik at 2:43 AM on June 28, 2011


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