Darren asks this question in response to the recent article in Wired.
He says it compares very closely to the hot, then not, NY club scene, but I think there's a big difference. Clubs have a pervasive atmosphere to them... a culture. Certain clubs appeal to certain types of people at certain times. They trend younger, older, hipster or homeboy, and among these groups you want to have the best of the bunch there. When younger people "invade" a more mature club, or older, less cool, people invade hotspots for young people, the strength of the club's identity and therefore the brand declines.
MySpace, however, isn't the same club to everyone. Its flexibility allows groups to form on their own. Its what danah refers to as "glocalization"... bringing together your world, not the whole world. I can discover other Mets fans, other Lacuna Coil fans, people in Bay Ridge, or other Italians. No club can do that in real life, and so the idea that "whatever you want" might go out of style is something I disagree with.
However, that doesn't mean that MySpace can't fail. The site is very slow and buggy and has serious scaling issues, like Friendster before it. It is full of a lot of spam, and as a development platform, its like the Wild West. Plus, its still pretty closed. Are these fixable problems? Definitely.
Here's what I'd love to see MySpace do to secure its future at the top and avoid some social network pitfalls:
- Fix the spam problem or at least open up and let someone else fix it. I'd sign up for any service that blocked any new female with only one picture and no profile bling and mostly male friends to invite me or message me. Its a very easy algorithm to detect fake profiles.
- Innovate around your core strength: Upgrade music. Music is the backbone of the network and the functionality of the player hasn't changed at all. I'd love to see a MySpace/Pandora or MySpace/Last.fm integration.... anything that enables more radio station like functionality. Discovering songs one click at a time is not as fun as being able to let it play for an hour or two. Plus, why can't I break the player off the page and play it on my blog?
- Scaling issues. Hopefully, Google will lend MySpace a few PhDs to help the "MySpace Technical Group" which gets a bug report every ten seconds I use the site when a page doesn't load right away. No reason why they can't get enough servers and bandwidth and fix the code to make the site run smoothly. I mean, the "check my address book for contacts" thing has never worked!
- MySpace Developers Network or Whitelist: If they keep approching widgets with this cat and mouse game, we'll never see integration with other services reach its fullest potential. Innovation is what will keep people on the site, and creating a healthy platform for trusted developers to work with will benefit everyone.