Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

31 August 2007

Facebook and MySpace: Batting for Two Different Teams?

When Facebook opened its back-end to outside applications in early spring, it gave users the power to act on preferences for how they'd like to interact with others.

Suddenly, you didn't have to wait until Facebook felt like offering you a functionality; you could just code one up yourself and disseminate it.

MySpace also gives users a freedom they don't have on that other site: they can "pimp out" their profiles. Some, like Tim Gunn's Guide to Style, don't even look like MySpace pages. For this reason, MySpace can be thought of as a personal Web publishing tool for those advertising either themselves or a product. Many do both.

Spacelift, a new Facebook app, suggests there's a bigger difference between MySpace and Facebook.

Spacelift enables users to import their MySpace profiles onto Facebook so they don't have to deal with the MySpace interface. (Check out before and after shots of a transitioning profile on Mashable.)

What once may have been written off as a "lifestyle preference" -- your love of a pink background versus a green one, and that MySpace lets you exercise that preference while Facebook does not -- may betray the reason why Facebook is increasingly the preferred site for social networking.

MarketingVox notes Spacelift could inspire "[others] that move regularly between MySpace and Facebook [...] to leave one in complete favor of the other."

That's a scary statement. The question is, why would users on the fence actually leave MySpace for Facebook? Don't they want access to a profile page that lets them be as individual as possible?

For one, the sheer simplicity of Facebook's design probably works in its favor. While MySpace may still boast the largest number of users, last April Facebook grew 106 percent to MySpace's 70 percent.

And in the UK, Facebook has already overtaken MySpace in terms of Internet searches.

The advent of Spacelift, however, suggests to me that maybe we've been comparing apples to oranges all this time. The users leaving MySpace for Facebook are probably not the same ones that significantly manipulate their MySpace pages, then use those pages to generate sales or draw attention.

Because that's another difference: you can't look at a Facebook profile unless you're part of a user's network, or already friends with that user. It's a walled garden. MySpace, on the other hand, gives you the option to make your profile visible to non-MySpace users.

Facebook's decision to keep a tight grip on its form, while letting users experiment with its functions, is a formula that forces users to focus less on the appearance of their profile pages and think more about collaborative opportunities.

If you're a social networking site, that's what you want: for users to interact with one another on your platform. This keeps them coming back.

That MySpace users spend less time networking than self-promoting may mean it's less a social networking site than a personal publishing tool. And if that's the case, this puts it in a completely different competitive realm.

Maybe in the future we'll be holding MySpace up to blog/community hybrid sites like Xanga or LiveJournal.

Originally published on

28 August 2007

I Just Bought a Pair of Mary Janes. With AIR BUBBLES!

As a very young teenager, I had a pair of Penny Hardaway signature Nikes. This made me Officially Awesome on the social playground, mainly because the shoes boasted a high price tag and because, off a basketball court (if they even made sense on one), these were insanely impractical shoes.

But that didn't matter, really. What mattered were the air bubbles. At the time, air bubbles were the most innovative but least practical aspects of a solely-for-vanity pair of Nike sneaks. The more bubbles, the better, and if you could run, jump and play in these shoes for at least a year without popping one or stabbing a stick into one for your own amusement, you were Awesome.

I'm not really sure what practical purposes air bubbles serve. Supposedly they add more cushioning to an otherwise flat and uncomfortable sole, sort of like the difference between a mattress and an air mattress.

Anywho, I was in New York this weekend and I happened to walk past a Cole Haan store when I noticed a pair of pumps I really liked. More strangely, I noticed they were on a clear platform branded Nike Air.

"OMGWTF?" I said. I double checked to see if this was indeed Cole Haan. It was.

So I did some homework (talking to an elderly and well-coiffed employee, who told me my name sounded "festive"). Apparently Nike purchased Cole Haan more or less six years ago. Intrigued, I made it my goal to try one of these fabled Air pumps to the chagrin of my companion, who nonetheless acknowledged I need "sensible" shoes anyway, for the Ithaca terrain.

Why are guys so fond of the phrase "sensible shoes" when referring to an item of footwear women lack? I never hear a guy use the word "sensible" in any other context.

An hour and a half or so later, I walked away with a pair of Air ankle boots (they're so cute!) and -- more importantly -- flat (though slightly elevated) Mary Janes for the Ithaca terrain with thick rubber soles and AIR BUBBLES.

Air bubbles!

I padded around in them most of today and concluded air bubble technology has much improved since I was 13. You actually feel a bit of spring in the heel. And upon closer inspection, these much airier bubbles are next to impossible to pop with deviant behaviour alone.

It's possible that none of these things are true, and I've just become a self-deluded adult who needs to justify a (more or less) extravagant purchase that revolved mainly around two (beloved) married brands and some hype about an aesthetic element that was cool all of 10 years ago.

But that's okay. I'm okay with that.

Nike took running/jumping/hiking shoe technology and thought, "How could the everyday sharply-dressed run-to-worker benefit from this without looking like an asshat?"

Or else it thought, "How can we break into the non-sporty luxury shoe market without falling flat on our faces? Let's buy Cole Haan and put Air Bubbles where no one would ever think to find them."

Either way, that Nike can take its "if you have a body, you are an athlete" philosophy, and apply it to a pair of relatively attractive little shoes that belong on a pair of feet that aren't keen on contact sports or knee-scraping in general, says a lot about Nike's cradle-to-grave elasticity.

Because now I can walk about in a pair of "sensible" shoes, sporting the luxe attractiveness of Cole Haan tailoring, without divorcing a comfort brand I actually wore on tarmac as a wee lass.

And that's 1) really touching or 2) a really serious case of arrested development.

Either way, it was very good for Nike.

15 August 2007

On the Meaning of Occupation

"Should men and women, after all, be defined in any important way by their work? The answer, of course, is yes, otherwise the activities that largely support our lives and consume our time would be unfriendly, foreign, and irrelevant to us.

"Our occupation should not be something we visit like the seashore in summer or a prisoner in a prison, despite the fact that the work may be unpleasant [...] Even if it is like speaking a foreign language we haven't learned, that incapacity itself is totally defining."

-Foreword by William Gass, Stanley Elkin's The Franchiser

13 August 2007

Joost: Fast Adopting All the Crap It Left Behind

It's been four months since I nailed my Joost beta invitation, and I think by now I'm in a fairly decent position to review the offering that either puts television to bed, or marries television to its longtime nemesis, the computer.

Cool things about Joost:
  • The occasional brand-spankin'-new music video
  • The occasional good show
  • Throwback television (remember Ren and Stimpy? Hell yes)
Less than cool things about Joost:
  • The ads, however short and occasional, are getting to be a drag. I don't know how many more times I can look at a Ballpark Frank
  • The ad logos in the lower right-hand corner are not much better and, to their misfortune, remind us a lot of the logos that appear on the right-hand corners of daytime network TV
  • The 'occasional good show' leaves room for improvement: I Hate My 30s was pretty funny at outset, but increasingly looks like it'll go in the same direction as That '80s Show: the bin. It's a cute idea in theory, but otherwise has a short shelf life. Can't wait for more competitive fare to start popping up, because...
  • Most of the rest of the shows are trash. Really, The Guinness Book of World Records? Did I really need to see a dude juggling basketballs or a man who can pull tractors with his beard? This is the kind of stuff you feed people who can't afford cable
Will Joost put TV to bed? With TV already on its way out the door in terms of viewership, we probably can't attribute its death to Joost alone. But the service is certainly proof that we don't need the original king-sized tube to suffer the same angst.

Will it wed TV to the monitor? Joost proves, and impressively, that democratic TV-on-yo'-comp is doable, and well.

One awesome thing about the service is my newfound ability to zone out and watch a show in the middle of a coffee shop. That, coupled with Joost's On Demand-esque feature, is as hard as a coffin nail that's sealing in the television monarchy.

I definitely wouldn't pin Joost a YouTube killer; it's a totally different value proposition. I can't imagine kids uploading their dog chases or acting impersonations onto the Joost platform, and I don't think that's what the founders want either.

It goes without saying, I think, that the service could do with a little competition to inspire improvement. Increasing adoption of broadband in more rural areas certainly can't hurt, and the iPhone presents a savory opportunity to bring the platform to a more mobile place.

If it wants to be the TV of tomorrow, it needs to go mobile (these days, aiming for the desktop just isn't high enough). Overall, I'd say Joost has a couple of years to go before it sees ready mainstream adoption.

Update: MarketingVox reports Joost is also too heavy for US broadband speeds. Well, hrm, that sucks.

05 August 2007

At Least 20 Reasons to Go Into Advertising

Can you spot them all?

A self-referential tribute to the great production work Stardust has done for brands big and small in 2007. See it in infinitely better quality on