Facebook: The ‘burbs of social networking?

Posted by Rob Walker on February 10, 2010
Posted Under: "Good Design" (Tyranny of),"Social" studies,The Designed Life

If you recall earlier posts here and here about MySpace aesthetics, you might be interested in the recent NYR piece about Facebook. There’s a lot in the piece I have trouble with, but there are also some things I found insightful. It is here.

Here’s one passage related to aesthetics:

While MySpace listed details similar to if less sophisticated than Facebook—”Education,” but also “Body Type” and “Zodiac Sign”—a MySpace page could otherwise look like almost anything else online. Every Facebook page, by contrast, was laid out in exactly the same way, painted in an inoffensive if antiseptic palette of pastel blues on bright white. Facebook’s engineers, much abler than their counterparts at MySpace, quickly stifled any attempts to break these rules. To call MySpace “ugly” would be roughly equivalent to categorically denouncing graffiti—to praise Facebook for its “clean” design, akin to celebrating tract housing.

The writer repeatedly compares Facebook to a “suburban” space. (My favorite instance is a bit talking about privacy settings: “One solution: set your privacy options so that no one could see your photos at all—a decision whose wisdom would be confirmed every time a drunken picture of a friend showed up on the News Feed, only to disappear a few hours later, like a Cheeveresque husband seen momentarily wandering, naked, down his front drive.” That’s funny.)

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

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