Social-media Frankenstein

Categories: Tech

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Every day, I use multiple social media services to work, stay in touch with friends and keep up to date with what's going on in the world. Half an hour on MySpace here, twenty minutes of Facebook there, and a quick look at Twitter every hour -- it adds up.

So, until the future I predicted here comes to pass, I've been tinkering in my lab (which is to say, my imagination, because I don't code) with the perfect mad-science amalgam of the services I use every day. Here's the pieces I want in my perfect social media beast.

MySpace: The only thing I use MySpace for is seeking out new bands. That still eats up a good chunk of my time since a) I'm a fanatic and b) I get paid to write about music for this fine publication. So from MySpace, I'd take the simplicity of setting up a band page and the functional, if ungainly, music player. It's far from perfect: I've chatted with too many bands that hate it to think otherwise. But the truth is, a new band can have a page set up, with songs ready to play for potential fans, in a couple of hours. I guess I'd also need the installed userbase of people, like me, who go to MySpace for exactly that reason. But I suspect that if the bands were to migrate wholesale, the fans would follow.

Facebook: The main thing I want from Facebook is the global reach. I mean, everybody is on Facebook. Everyone you went to school with, your in-laws, your first love, your third-grade teacher -- all of them use Facebook, which makes it the best place to go to, you know, be social.

I'd also take the web interface, but I'd want the one from two or three or four variations ago (I lose track, since they change it every twenty minutes). Everything all in a nice little column -- videos and pictures previewed inline, very clean and neat (maybe even a little sterile, but I prefer function over form) and all in chronological order, so if someone told you they posted something online three days ago, you can find it by simply going far enough back.

Oh, and I'd ditch all the "wall view"/"profile view" bullshit. The way people use social media, we all look at our personal feeds, not anyone's profile. A simple info page is all we need for new visitors trying to confirm that we are indeed the douchebag that lived across the hall from them in the freshman dorm before adding us as a "friend."

Speaking of friend, I'd also take that terminology from both MySpace and Facebook. It's not totally accurate since I have many, many "friends" on both who don't exactly qualify in real life. It is better than the creepy "followers" of Twitter or some bullshit neologism that would sound even stupider. Eventually we'll evolve a new word for real-world friends, and then we can full redefine the word friend as "person I interact with online semi-regularly."

Finally, I'd take the "like" function, which allows you to essentially comment on something you like with a single button push. But I'd add a "dislike" button, too, because I dislike more things than I like. In all honesty, I am a bastard.

Twitter: Twitter is my current social media of choice. The main thing I want from it is its API, which is open and allows people to access, extend and customize the service easily. To the basic shell of Twitter, developers have added pictures, video, media players, etc. More importantly, they've made it easy to access via a dedicated desktop or mobile app, so you aren't chained to the web interface if you don't like it (and I don't, personally). That's the real reason for its success, rather than its cutesy name and enforced brevity.

Okay, the enforced brevity helps, too, so maybe I'd keep that, but push it to a nice neat 200 characters, just for the hell of it. You've got more to say? Start a blog and link to it in a 200-character-or-less update, like the rest of us do.

Elsewhere: I like LiveJournal's flexible profile picture sets, which allow you to keep a half-dozen profile pics and assign them at will to posts. That way I could have my grumpy pic for bitchy posts, my confused pic for WTF posts, etc. A Reddit-like recommendation feature that would auto-pick things "liked" by a lot of people and stick them into my feed could be cool.

And I'd definitely put some bolts in its neck, because you can't have a Frankenstein-like monster without some kickass bolts in its neck.

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