When I first signed up for Myspace in 2003, I was reluctant. I wasn’t too sure how I felt about social networking sites, but after a bit of peer pressure, I signed up. After only a few minutes, I knew this was going to be my newest obsession.
Now, more than a decade later, I realize there are a lot of things about Myspace that were really innovative. Many of these things helped define our social media experience today. Partially out of nostalgia, I asked a few of HootSuite’s designers and copywriters what they loved about the pioneering site, and we came up with this list of things we miss:
1. Myspace taught us basic coding
Of course we all wanted the coolest custom profiles… and the only way to get it was to start messing around with HTML code. This was an awesome outlet for kids to get really creative, and ended up getting people interested in web design before they even knew what it really was.
Daina Lightfoot, one of our designers, explained “I learned basic coding skills so that I could have an awesome profile. It took some time, but soon after I was making money by building pages for my friends.” She went on to say “ this was what gave me even more of a push in the right direction when it came to my career.”
Cruising through different profiles also meant seeing a lot of ugly profile pages. This may have helped us realize what we liked about good design, which in turn we strived to create. To sum it all up: color codes.
2. Music Accessibility
Myspace was a place where we turned to to find new music or band information. Many of us feel as though Myspace was one of the few places that Indie artists could showcase their music and customize their page in a way that represented who they were. Like Soundcloud today, Myspace was one of the first platforms that let absolutely anyone publish and showcase their music.
These days, we turn to different places to learn about new music. Whether it be YouTube, Vevo, Vimeo, Soundcloud, rdio.com, Songza, iTunes, pitchfork, blogs, band websites… I could easily keep going. HootSuite copywriter Sam Milbrath explains, “I find music today is spread out across so many different places that it’s hard to keep track (pun intended).”
3. Tom’s Smile
The friendly, reassuring smile from Tom when signing into Myspace was always a warm welcome. Although he never returned our PMs, we sure do miss that guy.
4. Creating the Perfect Playlist for Your Profile
Myspace playlists were basically the last mixtape. This was first thing anyone heard when entering your page, and instantly told the visitor something about you. The hours spent choosing the perfect playlist was all worth it, when the person heard music that showed how deep, intellectual, and cool you were. Ya know, you’d include some Death Cab For Cutie or Taking Back Sunday.
5. Making it into a Friend’s Top 8 (and ranking your friends in your own Top 8)
One of the things that makes it hard to be a teenager these days is all the ways that social media ranks and quantifies relationships: likes, comments, shares, and myriad other ways of measuring. During the Myspace days, it was brutal but simpler. We ranked our friends, and put them in a Top 8, which showed up on the front of your profile. Wait, Ashley is at a number two spot while Jenny is number 5? You know that is starting some drama.
You know that feeling when you crack 500 connections on LinkedIn, hit a new milestone of follower numbers on Twitter or have a big klout score bump? Now multiply that by infinity and you can imagine how it felt when you made it onto a friend’s Top 8 list.
7. It was the First Time Many of us Blogged
We talked about how Designers saw the first glimpse of their career through learning code on Myspace; those of us who are professional bloggers feel the same way. We got our first taste of blogging courtesy of the Myspace Blog. It was here that we could share thoughts, videos, images and links with all of our friends. We were also able to comment on friend’s blogs, which is not to be mistaken for Facebook’s wall—it’s just not the same.
Myspace didn’t end with just blogs though; they also had bulletins, where teenagers spent hours filling out surveys. Filling out surveys was one way for us to stealthily admit our deepest, darkest secrets to the entire internet world. This says something about the essence of social media—the impulse to share, reveal and confess… I wonder where we picked up those habits.
6. The Original Selfie
Myspace was where we learned how to perfect the mirror self-portraits. This was one of the first steps to toward what the selfie has become today. Now we are seeing selfies from space, selfies with The Pope, selfies with Presidents… we just can’t get enough of the selfie. Selfie even became Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year in 2013.
While these days we tend to cut out the mirror, one thing that has stuck around is the duckface. Some may say that Myspace was one of the first places the duckface ever surfaced. This might not be something we miss, or we really want to see anymore- but worth a mention nonetheless.