I Don’t Get Facebook

There. I said it. Let the ridicule begin. Another old fogy doesn’t understand social sites. As my niece says, “What ‘ev’.”

I started social networking on MySpace. Yeah, I know — I’m a little old for MySpace, regardless of what the experts claim. I signed up to see what my daughters were doing online and to see what all the noise was about. Noise is right. MySpace is awash with clashing colors, huge background images, and tiny fonts. And the noise isn’t limited to visual. I’m blasted with bulletins on whether my teenage friends enjoyed their last kiss, whether they prefer Pepsi or Coke, if they’re double jointed, and if someone’s smacked them in the butt in the past week. Let’s hear it for transparency…

I joined Facebook when it opened to non-college students. I liked the clean interface, no soft porn masquerading as dating site ads, and no Bambi’s wanting to be my friend so I could visit their websites. People use their real names so I didn’t have to remember who “<3 Y0ur Fa\/3 [jk]” is.

Unfortunately, Facebook changed when it opened up for external aps. What a mess! With MySpace, if I find a cool widget, I can put it on my profile. No mess, no fuss. When I add something to my Facebook profile, Facebook wants to spam all my friends with requests to put it on their profiles and then every time I change something, spam them again. What’s worse, most of these “cool” apps don’t seem to work unless my visitors also installs the same apps on their profiles. What?!

Of course, my friends are installing these apps, and I’m getting spammed with requests to compare tastes in movies, be a pirate, and see if someone has clicked “YES” on me (oh boy!). I’m ignoring most of this stuff and probably upsetting my friends in the process. So much for Facebook helping me in the friend arena…

Now Facebook seems to think they can publish my online purchases made on other sites. If I want you to know I bought Rogaine, Cialis or just a new Telecaster, I’ll post it here. I don’t appreciate Facebook making money by telling my friends my secrets.

Guess I’m just unsociable.

P.S. Oh, joy! I just logged on to MySpace and discovered that MySpace is going to spam my friends, too.

Update: Hugh Macleod at gapingvoid posts on the same topic, “Why Facebook Might be Consigning Themselves to the Slushpile of History.”

MySpace Without True.com Ads

I have a MySpace account. As my tagline says, I’m “increasing the average age on MySpace.” I don’t have a lot of MySpace friends, but it’s one more way to watch my kids online. Yeah, I know, they could be sending messages that I would never see…

I’ve always hated the True.com dating service ads. Now, thanks to Firefox, GreaseMonkey and Ad Slicer for MySpace, I don’t have put up with True.com anymore. Sweet bliss. ;)

Democrat Candidates More Wired?

I added networking links for the declared presidential candidates on my Election 2008 page.

The Democrats have more networking links than the Republicans, averaging 3.0 links per Democrat compared with 1.7 links per Republican. I only counted links to Facebook, Flickr, Meetup, MySpace, and YouTube. A couple of the Democrats also had PartyBuilder; I didn’t count those links. If I had, it would only increase this disparity.

For some unknown reasons, the Republicans also make it harder to find their networking links. Duncan Hunter, in an apparent effort to maintain a consistent color theme, camouflaged the networking links in the right column; I found them only after returning to the site for a second time. John McCain hid his networking links two menus down in a press release, and even then they are just text links. Ever the maverick, McCain also posts his videos on veoh.com and reference what appears to be his one and only answer on answers.yahoo.com.

It’s not just the second (or third) tier Republican candidates not trying to do the “networking thing.” Rudy Giuliani (I’ll learn to spell his name before this campaign is over) has exactly zero networking links.

Are networking links necessary? One could argue not. After all, the Internet didn’t propel Howard Dean into the victory circle. Yet, I think that argument is a few years out of date. There’s nothing better than getting buzz going in the voters at virtually no cost. (And there’s probably one thing they’d like to avoid: getting unfavorable posts written about them, like this one…)

So will the networking gap affect my vote? Of course not. My vote will come down to the issues, not whether a candidate is my friend on MySpace or whether I can see pictures of her dog on Flickr.

The “aging” MySpace user base

A recent comScore survey claims that the MySpace “user base” is aging, that 55.6% of MySpace users are 35 or older! If so, that would make MySpace one of the grayest corners of the Internet, right behind Canadian pharmacy sites.

The survey counted “Total Unique Visitors” during August 2006. In other words, a dad who doesn’t have a MySpace account, but who checked his daughter’s MySpace account once during the entire month of August counts as one “user.” And his daughter, who spent more than four hours every single day of August on MySpace, writing blogs, blurbs, comments, posting pictures, videos and bulletins on her blog, and visiting her 347 friend’s MySpace pages, also counts as one “user.” Okay… If I were looking to place ads online, I would prefer a page views by age metric to determine whether MySpace was a good investment.

I’ll continue to keep my headline “Increasing the average age on MySpace” on my MySpace page.

Facebook, too!

A couple of days ago, I “bragged” about finally getting a MySpace page, and worried about getting a facebook account. I thought only college students with active college e-mail accounts could get Facebook accounts. I was wrong. Facebook also supports thousands of corporate networks, including my employer.

So now I have a MySpace page and a Facebook account. Someone stop me before I sign-up again.

MySpace? Yup.

So, I finally got myself a MySpace account. Yeah, I know–at 43 I’m a little older than the target demographic. So what. I’m comfortable with my age. You deal with it. Besides, having a MySpace account allows me to see what my kids are doing (and what’s being done to them). It’s not going to be so easy if (when) my oldest gets a Facebook account.

Looking through other MySpace profiles reminds me of the early years of proportional-spaced fonts, WYSIWYG editors, and color printers. Can you say Ransom Note style? Garishly colored or graphic backgrounds provide a backdrop for tiny, low-contrast text and scattered pictures. Where’s the <blink> tag when you really need it?

I assumed that I could write some CSS to make my own stunning, understated, elegant profile. I assumed wrong: it’s not so easy with MySpace. I’m back to the default look.

Fortunately, I don’t have to blaze a path. Mike Davidson recently fought this battle. Wow!