Myspace, “worse is better”

Skimming through a blog about the Cannes Film Festival, I came across this movie website URL. Movies have long had web sites, but a myspace page ? This is new.

Let’s be honest : myspace is the new geocities. Back in the early days of the web, geocities was a huge heap of ugly, boring personal web pages, generally very badly designed and using every single dumb javascript trick in the book (that, and the <flash> tag). It was the place where bright pink text on yellow background would wrap around blurry holiday pictures scattered at random. And your mouse cursor would be followed by a trail of cute little stars. Geocities was the haven of thousands of vanity sites. Now doesn’t that make you think of something ?

Why was geocities so successful ? Because it offered free and easy to use hosting. Forget about quality, the “worse is better” principle applies. Why is myspace so successful these days, even though just about 99% of its webpages are eye-piercing demonstrations of ugliness ? I can’t see any other reason that it’s because it gives all the tools a home site needs in a nicely wrapped package : blog, photo gallery, audio and video playback, and… hyperlinks. Because, really, what are “friends” in myspace if not a reinvention of hyperlinks within the realm of myspace ? Yes, hyperlinks within a text are used to offer a way to “more info”, but in a blogroll for instance they are an endorsement. Much like myspace “friends”.

Then of course there’s also the critical mass factor, which myspace has reached long ago. It’s sheer weight makes it mandatory for media marketing droids to set up camp here whenever they have something new to promote. And so myspace becomes a fac simile of the Net, except centralized.

This is actually a global trend as Nicholas Carr says. First were centralized, disconnected networks (AOL, Compuserve, Genie… my first online steps where on a system called Calvados, which later became Calvacom). Then Internet wiped them out. And now we see them growing back, within the Net.

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