Myspace: What went wrong?

View of the homepage of the MySpace social networking website in Washington 15 May 2007.

Besides laying off a huge chunk of its staff, Myspace is up for sale and has been for quite a while. There are rumors that this expected round of layoffs may be tied to a sale that may return as little as $20 million. That's a far cry from the $580 million paid by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp back in 2005.

Since that time, of course, Facebook has risen to Internet ubiquity while Myspace has become something of a punchline about Internet phenomena that become outdated.

Alice Marwick is a post-doctoral researcher with Microsoft Research. She says that while Facebook's rise certainly hurt Myspace, Myspace itself must shoulder plenty of blame too: "I think that Myspace felt a lot of pressure to monetize quickly after it was sold to News Corp. And I think as result, they added advertising, they added things we might consider to be spammy, things users found intrusive, and I think that the fact they proliferated customization without control made the site feel like a place that wasn't necessarily safe. It felt like somewhere you might go that there might be a virus and content you wouldn't want to see."

We also talk to artist, pioneering blogger and Internet personality Ze Frank. Ze kept a close eye on Myspace during the company's heyday and said that users' ability to customize their own pages is what made Myspace popular but hurt it too: "It looked terrible and it was this kind of awful rainbow of attempts to define different aspects of your personality. But you can't forget that it was really hard to do. You had to paste lots of different pieces of cff and java all over the place. People didn't know what they were doing but they went through incredible amounts of effort. In some ways, it was the most glorious hacking adventure that's ever existed online."

Also in this program, we hear about a new way to experience art. The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has worked with Google on a new feature for the Google Goggles app. Take a picture of a picture, get instant information and audio commentary.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

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