Jason BlockDesigner and Front-End Engineer

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by Jason BlockDecember 10, 2012

To The New Myspace

I joined The New Myspace as soon as I possibly could. I decided to leave the following message in their feedback forum after a few days of use.

You've created something beautiful. Your interface is incredibly well-designed, and besides the side-scrolling catastrophe, your UX is spectacular. Everything is performant and lean. A great example of 21st century web development done right.

Now you have my attention. Do something with it.

You guys have succeeded in building an application that exists in many places on the Internet. "Crowded market" is an understatement. You have all the ephemera and connections of a social network with the music playback engine of something like Grooveshark. But is that what I want from Myspace? I'm not sure. I never used the old Myspace (I started using social networks after the "if you share anything on Myspace, someone is going to rape you" fervor of the mid-2000s. I went right to Facebook).

Facebook is successful because it caught onto our base social desires as hormonal college students and gave the world that experience. They then succeeded at perpetually building out the platform using eagle eyes (and machine learning) to understand more about our behaviors than we know ourselves. They grew exponentially because they gave us something to do. Facebook isn't a blank canvas when you get there. It's filled with activity and gossip and people to talk with and photos to view and people to grow jealous of.

I'm an engineer by trade, and the pragmatist in my head appreciates the simplicity of the product you've created. At the same time, there doesn't appear to be a client. It feels reactionary. The Windows 8-based aesthetic is clean and better executed than most people that try to emulate it, but while it lacks superficiality, it also lacks character. It's a blank slate. It's a canvas for users, which I get. But what do I put on there?

What is my purpose for coming here? Facebook is about sharing my entire life. Twitter is a firehose of mental gobbledygook. Instagram is a brief way to express myself visually. What is Myspace here to do? What do I get for my content?

I get the focus on music. It makes sense. But like I said before: do something with it. Take the music offline. Put it in my life. Give me a better music platform than Spotify and Rdio. Create a community that the artists respect. Give the unknown artists a venue to rise amongst the big stars. Sponsor concerts, and stream them to those that cannot attend in person. Create a ubiquitous social music service. Get me to stop playing podcasts in iTunes or finding new music in Spotify and bring me to Myspace. You have the investors and engineering power to crush and change the music industry if you tried. Listen to the artists that grow frustrated with the bureaucracies at hand and the users that don't appreciate being condescendingly fed the same fads.

If Myspace can become the shining beacon of 21st century musical advancement and change, I will happily use it. Until then, the app will feel hollow. I know you guys can do it, and I'm hopeful that Myspace can have a triumphant comeback. You already have the technical team on hand doing amazing things, but you need the creative direction to focus them and create an experience that will live on forever.

On a side note, I appreciate some of the comments I see on this board, and it reminds me of Tom Anderson's honesty on Google+ talking about the trials and tribulations of Myspace 1.0. Good on you guys. Keep at it.