When I first signed up for Facebook I didn’t quite know what to expect. I’d come from starting off using MySpace and instantly getting frustrated with it – excessively heavy modifications by people who didn’t really know what they were doing meaning you’d open up a page to have 3 separate flash videos try to play, 2 songs, and a slideshow of pictures… blegh.
It was clumsy and got to be unusable, especially when trying to do anything with it on a system without flash installed. Everything took ages to load and it seemed to become more of a huge advert-fest than anything else. The only thing that kept me holding onto the account was the fact that it gave me the chance to actually download MP3s of the bands I liked from it – provided I had flash installed and working properly. In the end I gave up – the frustrations easily outweighing that one benefit.
At around the same time, Facebook ‘opened its doors’ to allow non-Uni types to sign up. Figured I’d give it a try seeing as I knew a lot of people who’d just started off to Uni and figured it would be an easy way to keep in touch with what people were upto. I half-expected to see a MySpace clone and was pleasantly surprised at the smooth layout, lack of customisation, and straight-forward approach to everything: All the information was where you want to find it. Photo Albums (while not strictly necessary) were easy to access but tucked out of the way, giving you the choice to access them if you want. Anything else you liked you could link to easily in the form of Posted Items, be they videos, news articles, external galleries, games, whatever. Again, it gave folks viewing your profile the opportunity to view these things if they want rather than just shoving it in their face all at one time. You could use it as your blog, or could import your blog posts from another site. It was simple. It was clean. And it worked.
Then Applications started to arrive. iLike, Movies, Grafitti, Fortune Cookies, god knows what else. The layout stayed the same and fairly clean, but already it starts to load slower and look overly clustered with things that can be described as little more than gimmicks. They don’t aid the application in any way and make the main page load up slower.
Perhaps they’ve got application, thinks like the grafitti segment could be really nice, but why not make it a separate page, like the photos with a big white board people can doodle on and the owner can wipe-free at will. That could be quiet fun and doesn’t clutter things up.
iLike, whilst I tried it, seemed a complete waste of time. And, again, pure gimmick.So far the only application I’ve seen that’s worthwhile (and perhaps this is because I am a Last.fm user already) is the Last.fm application, which can display latest information about who and what you’ve been listening to. However, this could be better tied in by being less flashy and simply replacing the music interests section of the profile, rather than basically adding an extra lump that effectively repeats the same thing again. Still, there’s time.
I don’t know, it just seems to me that with the introduction of all these Applications and the number of people jumping on to have these extra gimmicky sparkley bits to their profile, Facebook is transforming, day by day, into MySpace. And I’m not sure I like it.
Just my two cents.