Or so the CEO's think...
I have to say that when I read all the hand-wringing stories about Friendster, and the supposed "stupid features" (to quote Caputa) that Friendster keeps adding like horoscopes and little "We miss you!" email reminders I have to give myself a "wow! I could've had a V8!" smack to the head-- because Friendster's new features are very old features of successful adult-oriented social software sites such as Alt.com.
There seems to be little understanding of the ways in which adults have used social software for special interests (to use a term,) and how Friendster had set itself up. Friendster, from my Oldster p.o.v., seems alot like an offshoot of sites like Alt.com. Around since '98, Alt had a chat feature as far back as '01 (if not earlier), and other interactive features. It makes me wonder if there's not a chicken-egg effect here. I never really thought that much about the paralells between Alt.com and Friendster, but as I've looked at them side by side this a.m., it seems that Friendster reflected much of ALT. Perhaps Friendster had the blog feature well before Alt (I'm not sure on that) and perhpas Friendster's members were/are more adept at customising their pages, but that could very well be where the differences stop.
ALT's members were often quite open about their proclivities--far more open than the folks on Match.com--which, within the fetish community, is very, very important. Although there were indeed times when there would be Fakesters of a slightly different stripe--not necessarily profiles of pets, but profiles of people who didn't really exist (happened to some friends of mine...) It was also not uncommon for ALT to have adult entertainer/professional Dominant profiles that, unless you knew the covert language of professional dominance, looked as if they were personal ads. ALT, however, makes no bones about booting a member off the site for spamming or actively soliciting its members--if other memebers report the offender. And there is nothing wrong with posting in covert language a particular kind of personal adult entertainment, as long as cash is not mentioned. Chances are, unless a spam email lead to a virus or something that messed up a personal computer, no one reported the offender. Getting a mass emailing from a ProDomme was considered by some male members just a consequence of being on a fetish lifestyle social software website
So, Rafer's comment about Hundreds (at least) of soft-porn actresses and pinup girls also jumped in and were running informal fan clubs on Friendster might be attributed to the fact that bunches of them had already set up little fan clubs, or had professional ads, on adult sites. Friendster probably looked like a cheap and easy way to extend their influence into a younger male audience (who, in fact, are often in the same peer group as the porn queens and wannabees.)
I further wonder if folks like Caputo and Rafer have taken time and seriously observed MySpace.com, which oftentimes looks like Alt.com lite--a place where young people experimenting with fetisistic behaviors can act out without getting involved with people they'd consider hard-core freaks. As a "let's pretend we're fetishists" site, MySpace.com allows for young people to show off their piercings and tats, dress like schoolgirls, and post girl-girl kissing pics or amateur fetish photos immitating performers like Dita Von Teese (sorry, I won't post links as I will not ask permission from persons with these types of photos--ethics, you know. And a motherly desire not to encourage behavior that might have long-range consequences) It also allows fetishy bands and events to reach out and make friends with new members. Check out Dark Millenium's MySpace page and scroll down to see some band spam.
So, it's not just the audience-participatory factor of Gen Y that makes a site like MySpace.com successful and Friendster.com dead in the water, but also its party-hearty, erotic free-expression and rebelliousness that is evident within the first few click thrus on MySpace. This is not evident on Friendster, if it exists at all. I would conjecture that the interface of erotic entertainment, no longer the provice of Adults Only and often interwoven with alternative music subcultures like goth, is also a part of MySpace.com's success. If Friendster was so active about purging the kinds of provocative people and quasi-adult types of events that MySpace.com allows, then it's not just about the desires of Gen Y to be creative, but also about Gen Y's need for open, erotic expression. MySpace.com, because of its appeal to a certain demographic, keeps out the older freaks that are viewd as preditors by Gen Y, and thus gives its members a sense of safety to be as nasty as they wanna be (even though there probably are preditors among their own ranks.)
It is a different generation indeed! Too bad the CEO's are too old to get it.