I always secretly hoped I’d never grow old and unhip, but every few months I’m reminded that the world is passing me by.
It all started with the askew hats. Two or three years ago I was walking down the street and saw some guys wearing baseball caps with the bills pointed off at crazy angles, like their hat was making a left turn but their head hadn’t caught up. Every time I see a kid with his hat all akimbo I want to grab his arms, smack him in the face, and straighten his hat out. It’s irrational, I know, but drives me crazy in a “get the hell off my lawn you crazy kids!” sort of way.
The online equivalent of this is of course, Myspace. Chalk me up as another early adopter design geek that thinks he knows users inside and out. I have almost a decade of experience running my own communities and Myspace baffles me completely.
I know there are millions of young people using it, but I can barely figure out what people use their profile pages for. Sometimes there is a blog, most often it’s blank. Most all of them look like 1997 guestbooks filled with pointless me too testimonials from people with equally baffling profiles. When you click from one to another to another, you are transported back to Geocities back before Yahoo bought it, flaming animated gifs and all.
I can see how Myspace looks more attractive than Friendster because you have so much more freedom with your space, but if we give users flexibility, is this really what they want?
Apple has made the iPod the most popular music player on earth, but it’s clean as a whistle. How could the same people love their super sleek music player and also love the gaudy oversaturated flashing/pulsating monstrosity of their Myspace profile?
I know I’m not alone in this, but it’s good to see people smarter than me are making sense of it because I’ve been thinking about Myspace for months and I’m still baffled as to its success (I know the social component is the biggest part, but as a designer I’m mostly focused on the membership’s design output).
Next time I see Clay Shirky, I want a hug and a story of how it all makes sense somehow.