I have avoided it for as long as possible, but with my defences fully depleted, I have conceded and created myself a Facebook profile. After my previous article about MySpace some months back my readership have encouraged me to give Facebook a try but despite my hopes it was just a passing fad and that it would be possible to keep my social networking activity down to just MySpace.
Social networking is the current 21st century buzzword as it allows computer users to keep in constant contact with friends and family both quickly and easily. It works by getting you to create an online profile of yourself and from here you can then search for people that you know. Once located you request that they add you as a friend and then when approved you can then view their profile and just as importantly, their friends. The ability to see friends who are already added to their profile results in a pond ripple effect as you’ll often find others that you know in this fashion and before long you have a huge group of socially intertwined people all communicating together.
Naively I hoped that things would remain simple and that the established and popular MySpace would continue to reign supreme to avoid my having to set up another profile and search for my friends again from scratch. I assumed that with such a relatively simple concept that there wouldn’t be any real difference between the two but remarkably, there is. I’m now one of the converted and this week I’ll be giving you reason to follow me:
Whilst MySpace does offer the user a larger degree of customisation due to the fact that HTML code can be used to create a truly individual page unfortunately this is also its undoing. If everybody in the world was a natural web developer with programming skills then web design companys would be pretty short of work however luckily for them, this isn’t the case. MySpace pages are extremely inconsistent and often poorly designed; for the record choosing to put black italic text on a dark purple background makes for extremely hard reading.
Because Facebook doesn’t allow this degree of customisation, pages are always black text on a white background – the way they should be. Facebook does allow a large amount of non visual customisation by allowing users to add and share small applications which can enhance your profile page and these range from the genuinely useful to the completely pointless.
I am sympathetic to the fact that people need to make money, however, MySpace appears to have turned in to one great big advert just recently. With Facebook there is one advert which is always in the same place and as such it doesn’t affect the user experience or make you feel constantly targeted.
Unfortunately MySpace appears to now be a breeding ground for spammers; practically every day a random scantily clad woman requested to be my friend. Whilst I would sarcastically say this kind of behaviour is normal in my life when I’m around the opposite sex, these women were all blatantly advertising sites of an adult nature and so I was forced to reject them all. Since Facebook doesn’t allow users to add friends in bulk you don’t tend to suffer this problem and the focus appears to be more on connecting to, and staying in contact with genuine friends rather than simply winning an online popularity contest. Facebook keeps you up to date with anything that your friends have added or updated whereas MySpace relies on you laboriously checking each and every one of your friends profiles individually in order to stay up to date.
I haven’t been able to go over all of the reasons for switching to Facebook, so please sign up for free at www.facebook.com to see what is on offer. I still like MySpace as a social networking site but unless they make some serious changes and fast I imagine many others will be converting in the coming months.
Chris Holgate writes a weekly article of all things tech related. He is a director and copyrighter of the online computer consumables business Refresh Cartridges who sell cheap ink cartridges, toner cartridges, computer hardware and other computer consumables online. An archive of his work can be found at www.computerarticles.co.uk.