If MySpace’s fresh promo video is any indication, I think the veteran social network is finally sick of 187th place on the Internet. Now the site – preparing for a relaunch “very soon” – is offering something I don’t think many other networks have planned or thought of. Myspace is placing itself – and quite relentlessly so – in the center of the social networking panopticon, and it’s just so crazy, I’d sit in on this hand if I could.
Myspace has posted a GIFFED-up dummy site, announcing that its about to be the next big thing — again. After Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation emulated one of my amateur outings to Atlantic City and flipped the site for a horrendous 16-times less the purchase price, Tim Vanderhook, the CEO of Specific Media, and Justin Timberlake walked off with pieces of the traumatized real estate, wrapped in plastic and dangling from their arms, for the meager San Francisco sum of $35 million. That was 2011.
Facebook traffic surpassing Myspace in April, 2008
At first glance, I thought the ex-N’syncer was merely snatching up some pre-frayed internet memorabilia; the questions concerning Specific Media and Timberlake’s strategies for the site that dropped another 10 million users in the early 2011 have come from every last corner of the web. Now that the site has unveiled its new look, I personally am quite astounded, Buzzfeed seems impressed, and The Verge is apparently reprising Paul Giamatti in Sideways. Point is, everyone is hoping that this is going to be really good, because what other options do we have? And because the Internet likes a comeback, and it likes a throwback, and how poetic would it be if the site that did it was the one everyone left for dead.
What’s Myspace – no longer, mind you, MySpace or My_____ – doing? Taking hints from Pinterest and Tumblr, in terms of image presentation, accommodating people who take vertical pictures on their smart phones. Sprinkling on some Instagram filters and feeds. And let’s not forget the importance of personal music playlists. Hat tip to Spotify. Log-in with your Twitter or Facebook credentials (everyone’s doing that), see who’s around. Take every basic innovation of social media that has taken off since the ‘place for friends’ broke an ankle and fell under the cart, smoosh these components together and rub gently over a basic McDonaldsian branding identity of multiculturalism.
It’s all so precious and neck-breakingly obvious, so why hasn’t anything else more formidable than Badoo attempted this? Is social media and the Internet stuck in some guilded age of steam punkery? Here are some questions I have about the recent cultural affair with online specialization.
- Why is Instagram just pics?
- Why are Facebook photos all from Instagram?
- How is bit.ly it’s own thing? WTF is that?
- Why is this Spotify shit on my Facebook timewall? (I don’t want people to know I’ve been listening to Shania)
- How is Pinterest more than a conversation about someone’s Tumblr?
- Btw, what the fuck is a ‘note,’ Tumblr? Why don’t you have real interaction?
- Why is Twitter just status updates?
Zinger questions, but sheer numbers suggest that netizens concur with this type of web-compartmentalization. The fragmentations that allow users to emphatically assert what it is they do like about social media, and what it is they hate and refuse to like. However, if there were a place to mix it all into one crazy birthday cake, I think we could all agree that would be a good thing. Facebook isn’t an epicenter: it’s a background layer for the web now, behind these factions that try and develop a better way to do something that can be incorporated into Zuckerberg’s dictatorial regime. Everyone hates how Facebook evolves. Remember timeline? When Zuckerberg begins a sentence, “Now you can…,” users wax accusatory like Émile Zola. It’s the opposite of Steve Jobs’ “one last thing.” While Facebook is the land of friend-to-friend communication and image-perving, the corporate necessities of its design makes it just pathetic in terms of customization and beauty. How weird that we’re banking on MySpace to refresh our social media aesthetics?
Classic Myspace profile
On the other hand, Myspace, the OG of pic-commenting, indie-music promoting, and html crafting, appeals to prospective users, “We're hard at work rebuilding our site, entirely from scratch. But we're staying true to our roots in one important way—empowering people to express themselves however they want.” But what does this mean? Feels like a blatant stab at the — yes, I’ll say use it again — McDonaldsian you-can’t-order-the-breakfast-menu-after-10:30am approach of Facebook. The dictatorial ways of Facebook have for the most part, seemed to work; teaching the world about a passive-agressive little thing called love-hate.
The goal of MySpace’s redesign will be to disrupt the homogeneity of web-based driver’s licenses, and to pass out pieces of multi-colored construction paper to make name-tags. Hamburger or hotdog, I can’t wait to see who shows up on the first day of class. And oh, the places they will go from there.