Azure Jane Lunatic (azurelunatic) wrote,
Azure Jane Lunatic

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What is it good for? LJ vs. MySpace, a rambling on the differences between them.

lj_feedback had a "questions" session the other day, and is now making with the "answers" part. Rah answers a question about LJ vs. MySpace, and then there is commentary.

You see, at work the other night, I walked into a monitor room and found that whoever had been in there had not only left their Windows logged in (naughty naughty!) but had left a browser up and MySpace logged in.

This just could not be let go without comment of some form, so I clicked the comment place of the homepage it was on and left a friendly "Remember to log out when you leave work!" message. ...Except of course it wasn't the homepage of the careless login user, it was one of the buddies. Who could have done with the reminder anyway, so no harm done. (And, I checked up on the profile of the person I was commenting as, and there's a ">_< thought I did log out woops my bad!" comment from the person I commented at. So, two MySpace users admonished with one comment, hee hee.

That being said, here's the question and answer that Rah was dealing with:

somefan asked, "Has the rise of MySpace hurt LiveJournal at all?"

Only in that every time we announce a change, people in News comments invariably complain that we're turning into MySpace ;)

Seriously, though -- we're not MySpace. They're very good at what they do, but what they do and what we do aren't the same thing at all. MySpace is a social networking site, and LJ is a journaling site with some social networking features. Social networking isn't our primary goal, just like journaling isn't theirs. So really, it's like comparing apples and oranges -- people want to compare LJ and MySpace because people want to compare everything that looks even vaguely online-communityish with MySpace these days. The sites are totally different, with different goals and different ideals, and there's absolutely room for both approaches on these crazy internets of ours.

The subsequent commentary got me thinking: What does MySpace do? How is it different from what LJ does?

MySpace is more of a "homepage" site -- it has one user-page that is the main focus of the whole site, and has a whole lot of content and features shoved into that space. People cram their whole main content into the -- well, it actually is called the "home" page. If I were to draw a site diagram of the user-facing content of MySpace, I would draw the home page as the center of all that content, and then octopus-branches off for the pictures page(s), the blog, and then all the links to the friends.

On MySpace, one can totally pimp out one's home page. On LJ, one can not totally pimp out one's profile to that extent. If you are reading someone on LJ, you may never cruise into their profile at all. I find that I visit people's profiles a) when I don't know them and I want to see what they have to say about themselves that they need everybody to know up front, b) when I am curious about some aspect of a friend's existing social network (which leads me into the gripe about large numbers of people showing up as a search, and not as a list -- that is the #1 thing I LOATHE WITH A BURNING PASSION about LJ) or c) when I am feeling too lazy to type it in, or unwilling to guess-and-check on someone's username, but I know that they are a friend of X, and therefore can be found off of X's profile.

LJ's main focus, by looking at the user URL ( is the journal itself. The friends page is perhaps some people's entire focus on the site, but it is still not the thing of #1 importance according to the URL. The URL says that LJ focuses on the blog, and the blog content. On MySpace, one can pimp out one's journal, but it requires a bit of doing. Most people that I've seen have not done so. LJ makes it really easy to pimp out one's journal, and the benefits extend to the friendspage.

If LJ were to attempt to duplicate MySpace, LJ would not just make the profile look shinier, but would add hella customization capabilities to the profile. There's no plan that I know of to do that!

MySpace does not have a full equivalent of the friends page. It has the following things that I would consider similar, but it does not duplicate it with:
the "friend space" (which is slightly equivalent to the section of LJ's profile page with the mutual friends)
the "blog subscription" area
the "my bulletin space"
the comments area
the groups

LJ's friends page is a shiny RSS aggregator. MySpace has nothing like that. To read your friends' blogs, you have to subscribe to each and every one, and that's a bit of a pain in the ass. On LJ, you have to go through pain-in-the-ass steps to not read people's blogs. You have to clicky linky in order to read your friends' blog entries on MySpace. On LJ, you get them served up on one page. LJ lets you subscribe to outside blogs via their RSS feed. MySpace doesn't, that I can see. LJ lets people with OpenID-compatible outside accounts validate that they are the outside URL that they claim to be, and leave comments under their own OpenIDs -- it's not necessary to take up LJ namespace or duplicate posts to LJ if you're your own outside blog.

I don't think I said the part about the friends page loud enough. I have a friends page that generates over 200 entries on a daily basis. I can read the whole thing in the spare time I have. I do not have to have 50,000 browser tabs open to do this. On LJ, I only open things in new tabs when a) It's just a link from an RSS feed, and the real content is over there on their site, b) It's a news story and the headline tells me I need to read the whole thing, c) There's a cut tag and I want to see what lies beneath, d) I want to leave a comment, or e) I want to read the discussion I know is in the 100,000 comments that are on the post already. Right now I have two tabs other than my standard ones open. One is MySpace, since I am poking around over there for the purposes of this essay. The other one is a comment in my own journal here that I am replying to.

On MySpace, I open every single damn entry in a new tab. 200 tab-opens in a day, for content that I can read in less time than the time it takes me to open the tab? Not only no, but fuck no. MySpace may be good for networking and maintaining interaction with friends, but it is not designed for the kind of journal-reading that LJ specializes in.

MySpace is not designed for the kind of journal-writing that LJ is good for. MySpace has a billion third-party tools for pimping out one's homepage, but I have yet to be able to find a MySpace blog client. That looks weird written down. How many of y'all update your LJ from the update page on the site? How many update it from e-mail? How many post by text message from phone? Voice post? A client like Semagic? An Excel spreadsheet? (Go ahead and laugh, but it is possible to do that.) There are so many ways to update LJ.

LJ is good at threaded conversations. With third-party tools, the massively-multiplayer threads are even readable! Things like message boards do a half-decent job at this. Using LJ comments like message boards is, um, not clueful; you want to click the reply link to the comment you're replying to, not the top-level comment to the entry thing. That's one data point that imports from message board environments don't pick up on right away until someone tells them. (Hmm, do I smell a FAQ-type-thing on "how to use threaded message boards" brewing?) MySpace blogs have threaded comments, but the comments that people use to each other do not thread -- a conversation starts on one person's board, bounces over to the other person's board, and back and forth; it's OK for person-to-person conversation right then, but forget attempting to include another party or re-read it later.

Then there's the matter of culture. MySpace is a social networking site, and has a lot of that desperate teen and post-teen-trying-to-stay-young energy. As far as LJ goes, I don't have enough distance and exposure to a random sampling of the userbase to get a feel. I can sum up the newspost comments, I can comment on volunteer/staff-internal feelings, but I know my friendslist isn't the whole of LJ. But that's the beauty of it. There are communities -- not just the actual community communities, but groups of interconnected blogs. Try and find something like that on Blogspot. Try to find that much content to be connected on MySpace. Not going to happen. LJ is the win.

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