I somehow missed the birth of networking sites like Friendster and Myspace but all of a sudden it seems like this type of site is almost ubiquitous with casual internet use. Specialty sites have come up to cater to specific audiences. There isn’t one for anthropology yet so I’ll write about two that cater to the other two-thirds of this site’s theme.
1up.com is a networking site for gamers. I usually go there for the news, though I’ve visited it less as less since it is so complex. I just want my gaming news! The news sits in a little block of text surrounded by links to blogs. I don’t want to see what Joe D. Gamer says on his gaming blog. I have my own! Why read the World of Warcraft Blog when I can just play it with the other eight million people who have it? Anyway, I wanted to see how the networking part of the site was going so I went profile hopping. I even found someone I know! So I set up my own little profile and tried to invite him to be a friend. And… nothing. I have no idea how to do it! The site is just so cluttered. The obvious “Invite Friends” button is actually for spamming my friends who don’t have a profile so they will join. But how do I send and invite to someone who is already here? I still haven’t figured it out. The help link, buried in the lower right of the page, leads to a single page that only shows me how to sign up for this monstrosity (using outdated screenshots no less). I give up. My reunion with my friend will have to wait until I get some more patience. On to other things, like writing this post.
I’ve dumped on 1up.com a bit now so it must mean I have a solution for all of their flaws. Well, to show an example of a networking site that works in its simplicity, I present Comicspace. Yes, it’s a blatant name-ripoff of Myspace, but it is so much better in execution. Just compare the two home screens. Comicspace has a tasteful row of ads at the top, and the rest of the page are large blocks of information. there is a lot of information here but it is given room to breathe. And once you start clicking links and filling out text boxes, it works flawlessly. Comicspace is run by one person with volunteer programmer helpers and it just plain works. Myspace has all kinds of money backing it and it fails. There are errors that show up for the most mundane tasks like sending a message or seeing someone’s profile. It’s shoddy while Comicspace is expertly designed. Just look at it! It’s, dare I say, a beautiful site.