Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Inspired / MySpace vs Facebook

It's always when I'm busiest that I am most inspired for some reason. I made a post back at the beginning of school saying the same thing. Right now is finals time (CRUNCH TIME) (CRUNCHCRUNCHRCRUNCHsorry inside-joke to an outside-audience) and I've got ALL these ideas, not to mention Christmas gifts to plan out. One of the ideas is the blog topic idea I talked about yesterday, which, like I said, probably won't even happen til I'm done with finals.

The other two ideas I won't talk about, because I wouldn't be able to say much about it, and I don't want to feed you just a little bit if you're never gonna get the rest ;P So if you're interested in hearing them at all, feel free to contact me about them. My AIM screen name is theJollity. I should probably put that up somewhere on the right, like a little contact corner or whatever.

Because I'm feeling inspired I think I'll talk about something, like social networking on the internet. Generally speaking, the entire point of a social networking site is to connect with people who you either know or don't know. Given this foundation, people use social networking sites for either of the following:
  • To stay in touch with friends and family
  • To network within a specific group (locality, company, school, etc.)
  • As an advertising platform for a company, organization, personal service or product, stuff like that
Either way, we can all agree that connecting with others is the basis of social networking.
But what makes an efficient social networking site?
Let's look at the top two, MySpace and Facebook.

I personally think Facebook wins in the more efficient category, in that it provides the ideal setting for social networking: the layout is plain and simple (pro-newFacebooker, right here), its 'feed' almost forces you to stay in touch with others, and the inability to customize your individual page makes you and others focus on the information that really gets people connected, such as posted pictures, videos, 'notes', and basic things like interests.

So what makes it any better than MySpace?

For one thing, I believe it's the layout.
Let's take a look at MySpace's first:

While the whole boxes thing was a popular Web2.0 feature, I think MySpace misses the mark here. I didn't even bother screencapping to the bottom of the page because it was all so unnecessary. It tried to fit so many things in, each into boxes, and the end result was several boxes, God knows how long each of them. I permanently minimized the "friend update" box because it took up so much space.

Now look at Facebook's:

Yes, the screencap is, too, quite long, and to be honest I didn't even screencap the entire thing, I cut off a good chunk of the middle to show the bottom bits. But the thing is, the only thing that was cut off were a bunch of notifications. All the notifications, from who wrote on whose Wall, to who posted what Note, is all lined up single-file, just like they taught us in elementary school. There aren't separate boxes for notifications dealing with just pictures, or just videos, or just fanpages, or whatever, because that makes it cluttered. I really love how all the controls are in very simple and, for the most part, stable positions: you have your Home, Profile, Friends, Inbox, Your Name (which directs to your profile), Settings, and Logout there all the time, and a nifty toolbar below from which you can access any of your applications, wherever you are on the site. The bottom toolbar also features the Facebook chat, which stays there unless you want it to pop out.

Two of the main problems people tend to have with Facebook are the numerous applications and the notifications. Let me just kill that last one first by saying that you can completely adjust your privacy levels so that certain people can see certain parts of your profile, certain things can or can't be fed into others' "Site Feeds", etc. As for the applications, the old Facebook had a problem of the boxes that MySpace now has... when someone added too many boxes, the Wall disappeared (it used to be at the bottom of the page, like MySpace's Comment box). The new Facebook fixes this problem with tabbed profiles:

You can see how things are divided up nicely without cluttering the page. Now the Wall is ALWAYS there! :D

Remember what I said the point of social networking sites was? To connect to people, right? In order to do that, people will obviously share information about themselves. I think Facebook's limitation on page customization makes it so that you actually think about what you put on your page instead of slapping on the coolest premade HTML you can find. I'm sorry, but that does not impress me, MySpacers. If I really wanted to get to know you, I'd find all the important stuff: your info, maybe some pictures and notes in which you write your thoughts, etc. MySpace's cluttered layout, also littered with awkwardly placed advertisements, makes page-surfing chunky and difficult by comparison. Yes, I said chunky.

Site-wise, Facebook is more efficient as a social networking site because it focuses more on actually connecting people, whereas MySpace tends to put its focus on the individual. I guess I can't rag them for not being true to their name.

And yet others will argue that both sites are unnecessary; if you really wanted to connect, you'd just do it the old fashioned way: phones, actual meetings, etc. To that, I say you can work with both and have a beautiful connection. It's all a matter of balancing, and knowing how to use the site as a means to an end (assuming you actually wanted to be friends with all, or at least some, of the friends you added).

I have friended people on Facebook after only meeting them once. Their updates then scroll across my Site Feed, and I can comment on them as I wish. It's like Facebook puts you out there for you... but really, you're the one publishing the content. Anything you post on the Internet is made public, let's face it. On more than one occasion have I striked (stroke? stricken?) up conversation with aforementioned people-whom-I-just-met-once, and by the time we met next we had something to talk about — yes, even if we do start the sentence with "So I saw on Facebook..." But the thing is, that's just a launching point. You want to connect, and the Internet helps. It's a means to an end, ideally, at least to me. Sure, there will always be a few friends who I for the most part ignore, but when I get the urge to reconnect, I know they'll be there.

Oh, not to completely diss MySpace, I will admit that it is very good for advertising your company, band, or whatever. It is very much into that sort of media thing, and it's better to get people to see a certain page for music, videos, art, TV shows, movies, or whatever, on MySpace than it is on Facebook. Again, this leads back to customization and the opportunity to really show off what they've got.

So to conclude, I'm thankful for the Internet in general. It's a wonderful tool and, when used properly, can enhance human interaction rather than hinder it.


Chelsea said...

Awesome entry!

I enjoy having both Myspace and Facebook. Some friends have only one of those sites and refuse to get the other, so I find it easier to have both.

Also, a lot of us started on Myspace first, so we know the crummyness it had. I got tired of the customized backgrounds and color schemes and music on myspace profiles really fast.

I really like the fact that the people I WANT to keep in touch with on Facebook, I can. All I have to do is add them to the setting where I want to be notified more about what they do.

Facebook wins with its simplicity and newer layout, although I was confused about it at first when the change came, but the change is good.

I'm thankful for the internet too!

Lauren Ashley said...

Not a fan of new facebook - the wall to me is not so much a wall anymore, so much as it's an all about me news feed. It looks more cluttered than before. But that's just my opinion.