March 6th, 2015
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
From GeoCities to MySpace to Facebook the trend has been to less customization. Perhaps this is specialization: if you want a website, then go get a website, but if you want social, then let’s stick with a standard UI so that folks can focus on the social bits.
Could they have avoided losing out to Facebook? I think if they created MySpace 2.0 without all the crap (essentially what Facebook did) and made it easy to migrate your accounts and activity, they could have prevented Facebook from taking over social. But they didn’t, and it was crap, and I basically put up a MySpace message saying I was moving to Facebook for all the reasons, and that’s where people could find me. And I think a lot of other people followed suit.
Yeah, first we all had our own Geocities site and then there was stuff like LiveJournal. Then Myspace came along and continued the slow decline of options for the user who was interested enough to customize their page. Still, I remember just as many people not caring how it worked and pasting all sorts of “pimp your myspace” stuff into their page and in the process, opening up all sorts of opportunities for phishers and spammers.
Facebook was a little more “Apple-like” in that they preferred not to even offer you the tools with which you might crapify your profile. The most obvious result has been that your profile and feed are only crapped up when it’s by Facebook themselves but at the same time, I do think it’s a shame that so many younger (or just newer) folks won’t necessarily have the same easy opportunity to start messing around with HTML and CSS and other stuff the way people in the 90′s and earlier 00′s had loads of tools to tinker around with their personal “homepage” of choice.
Not saying there aren’t plenty of chances to learn that stuff still but I know the barrier is a lot lower when that site everyone uses also offers some chance to learn and customize.