Thursday, 27 April 2006

The popularity of the MySpace web design train-wreck

Commenting on Web 1.0 vs. Web 2.0: User Content and Lock-In, I think maybe Web 2.0 vs Web 1.0 is not necessarily the best scenario. Maybe it's simpler, maybe web standards is a waste of time, when you see how popular myspace is right now, and yet it's a web design train-wreck.

Somewhere between the popularity of MySpace and the simplistic usefulness of Basecamp lies the future of the Web. At least the near future, as trying to see too far ahead is becoming difficult as technology and software develops and mutates ever-quicker.

I've seen some disgusting looking MySpace sites, not just from a technical web production point of view, but visually the colours and layout are awful. But on the whole it obviously works, and as we all know people rarely actually complain about stuff they don't get or can't use online, they just go somewhere else and find what they want.

I couldn't survive at work without my Basecamp, to-do dynamic lists and email reminders saving me from searching through pages of written notes, ideas and lists.

But to those that don't work inside the web industry daily, something as simplistic as a MySpace page speaks - particularly younger web users - to them in a simple voice. Here is a wake-up call for all web designers of large and small-scale sites alike, the importance of engaging with your audience, in terms of not only the content, but the layout and visual structures.

Journalism meets blogging

How does the print journalism world adjust to the new media age of "citizen journalism", bloggers from all corners suddenly having a voice, opinion, a say on local and national issues and stories?

A columnist at the Philly Inquirer writes: “...the biggest evil of blogs is that first flaw, blogging's original sin: the discounting of news-gathering in favour of news analysis. Bloggers are forever telling us how easy journalism is, yet very few of them have ever really practiced it...but opinion writing is a tiny - and let's be honest, inconsequential - corner of the journalism world. Real journalism - the practice of adding to the store of public knowledge by reporting news - is a difficult, thankless, and often unpleasant task. Bloggers want no part of it.”

Bloggers without journalistic training or experience are no less worthy of reading. Coherent and articulate arguments and opinions are all valid. But surely the myriad of bloggers will not overrun the trained journalists backed by experienced news teams.

Writing regular articles and thoughts takes time and mental energy, as well as background reading and research to produce quality content. But not everyone has the time or inclination to do this for free.

True, some bloggers have made some money out of it, but it has to be almost a full-time job to be churning out lengthy quality writing at regular intervals.

For journalists and news teams it is an opportunity to break into new avenues of writing. Adding depth to articles there would otherwise not have been space for in the print world alone.

Speaking to the audience in more personal ways, taking a second look at stories with the benefit of hindsight and feeding the instant desires of those online readers who do not want to be tied down by waiting for the next days newspapers or the next weeks magazines or supplements.

The new journalistic age is still finding its feet, but the opportunities - providing some revenue streams can be found - could be rewarding for those currently inside journalism and those speaking from the blogosphere.

File under: newspapers and blogging.