Product & Startup Builder

Messy is the new clean

Added on by Chris Saad.
I have long held a strong personal dislike of MySpace. I don't think they really care though - it's not targeted at me - it's targeted at a totally different demographic.

That won't stop me airing my grievances though.

One of the main reasons I dislike it is how messy it is. How utterly useless the user interface is and how much worse the users make it with their colors and backgrounds and embedded music tracks. It drives me crazy whenever I find myself accidently stumbling onto a MySpace page.

I have always been a fan of clean lines. In fact, I have just been working on the secret, yet-to-be-revealed, Touchstone user interface that will be revealed with the all new Touchstone Beta and it is all about clean, simple lines.

Over on BubbleGeneration however, he explains that clean lines are just old fashioned. They are part of the 20th century's Modernism movement. To quote:

Re-engineering was about streamlining: about cutting the fat; about removing "resistance" and "drag" created by superfluous processes, whose near term returns were non-existent.

The result, as we all know too well today, is a commercial landscape both bleak and bland: homogeneous, robotic, synthetic, and hyperrationalized, where the Barista's or burger-flipper's value is timed, measured, studied, and analyzed to death.

He uses mySpace as the prime example. He states that mySpace beats LinkedIn as a real social platform because, unlike LinkedIn, mySpace allows its users to get messy - to hack up the page and distroy any trace of consistency.

Touchstone, of course, is very different from MySpace or LinkedIn. The primary setup/status windows are not about personalization, self-expression or social networking. So we can get away with clean, simple lines. That's what I tell myself anyway. I don't want to make a messy interface that people can hack up. I want it to be clean and slick.

I take comfort in the fact that Skype seems to have the same philosophy and they aren't doing too badly.

Am I the only one who thinks that MySpace chaos and CraigsList's complete disregard for aesthetic quality is disturbing and concerning? Someone save me...

Update: Daniela suggests to me on Skype that perhaps I don't like MySpace because Murdoch bought it just to drive traffic to his Fox TV sites.

This is probably a topic for another post but I don't mind that Murdoch, being an old school media guy, recognized (in some small way) the volume of traffic that MySpace could generate and purchased it to keep his media company relevant. I do, however, have a problem with the fact that the platform itself didn't necessarily deserve the popularity it received/receives (for reasons mentioned above and many others) and the fact that people like Murdoch, in general, don't understand the real power of social platforms beyond the old 'eyeballs to monetize' paradigm.