I’m a fairly short term user of last.fm and in that time I’ve gathered seventeen “friends”, including my oldest daughter, most of us whom share similar esoteric music tastes, courtesy of an innate feature last.fm called the taste-o-meter.
One of the superb features of this website was you could see what your friends were listening to when you logged on to the site. I’ve discovered a bunch of new and intriguing music this way. Not only that, the website had a lively and vibrant group/forum scene where you could meet new people and their music.
In other words, it was a community. People coming together, if only virtually.
Not any more.
It’s gone all “Web 3.0” or whatever this kind of design is called, which is all the rage out there right now. Even the theme I’m using here has this kind of full-screeny black/glossy domination. Further, the community nature of the website has been minimised to near non-existence. Friends have been renamed followers, a term which some people may well have negative relations with. The interaction with fellow humans on last.fm is, in all practical senses, gone. I have no clear indication of what they’re doing unless I click on the followers link. Yeah sure, it’s one extra step, but it’s one extra step away from interaction and community-building. Your “About Me” profile is limited to 200 characters, meaning no true personalisation or design.
No album art in the song lists…for reasons I can only ascribe to “just-because-ism”, they now list your music in song/artist format, where the obverse is the normal and more logical way.
In practical terms, it’s now a single user site that you log into.
And of the subject of community, if you want to communicate with last.fm and its myriad of now-aggrieved users, they’ve outsourced the forums to a place called getsatisfaction.com, and the irony of that domain name is not lost on me.
I mean…really? If you’re going to jazz up your website to the latest fad design going around, wouldn’t you do so with your community functionality intact? Wouldn’t you endeavour to minimise alienation and potential subscription loss by not destroying (or putting on the to do list) the very thing that made your site big to begin with? The community?
Time for the Jackie Chan meme as the last.fm redesign simply makes no sense from a community point of view. It’s annihilated the community.