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The flat-out necessity of having a customized profile brought forth an entire ecosystem of theme sellers and HTML tutorial writers, early pioneers in their own right who commodified their coding knowledge while convincing millions that writing code was something they could do too.
So let’s look back on what made My Space so code-friendly, and on how that friendliness eventually played a part in the site’s downfall.
In a 2009 , Michael Agger described My Space as the “product of striving, nighttime Los Angeles, where you go to be famous, to be something new.” Its allure was in allowing users—the vast majority of whom were teenagers and young adults—to invent and express a three-dimensional, digital version of themselves, from their profile photo, to the eight friends they considered closest, down to the font and background images on their profile pages.
Changing the styling of your My Space profile was a way to distinguish yourself from your friends.
With a cursor depicting a favorite movie character, or font color combinations that recalled a favorite sports team’s colors, users could use every pixel on the profiles to set themselves apart.
My Space wasn’t the only platform that allowed this kind of expression through code—Xanga, Tumblr, Pitas, and plenty of other platforms allowed users to customize their profiles with HTML and CSS.
But of all the features that made My Space the cultural sensation that it was, the ability to style a profile page with HTML and CSS might have left the biggest footprint behind.
For tens of millions of people, tinkering with anchor and style tags to personalize a My Space profile was an introduction to code as a means to solving a problem, to expressing something about yourself, or to just experimenting and seeing what happened.
Copyright © 2006-2019 Funky Llama Productions, LLC, its licensors and contributors. This was a legitimate income stream for many users who already had a bit of coding knowledge.For example, Patrick JS, a Y Combinator-backed founder who we previously profiled, told me his first experience as an entrepreneur was creating and selling My Space layouts.As Julia Angwin explains in her aforementioned 2009 book , My Space’s lead developer quit one month after the site launched in 2003.This left the remaining team with a site written in Perl, which nobody else at the company was familiar with.
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