The ‘Sphere In San Francisco

Webzine may be over, but the focus on alternative publishing – who publishes what and how – continues with today’s Chron piece on LiveJournal creator Brad Fitzpatrick. This graf caught my eye:

LiveJournal has started a revolution in Internet blogging by combining private journals with public forums. Emphasizing community and networking over editorial grandstanding and intimacy over audience, LJ opened up Web logging as a means of individual expression. Users of the free service create journals built around their interests, filled with a panoply of pictures, biographical details and customized layouts.[emphasis added]

My question: when was it closed?

The article implicitly draws attention to a quiet meme circulating under the surface of last weekend’s festivities. A sentiment conveyed in throw-away comments on blogging that “back in the day, when they were just websites.” And, aren’t they still? Easier websites – to be sure – a democratized world in which anyone with 5 minutes of reliable net access can establish a web presence – but just websites, nonetheless. MT co-creator Mena Trott says in the piece that “the tools themselves dictate what goes in,” and that’s very true – the digital, er, analog to the notion that whoever holds the pen holds the power (and, incidently, the root of the cry for redistricting reform in California, but I digress).

All in all, the implied information in this article reinforces my long-held (long as defined in tech-terms, shorter than dog years) belief that a blog is a pencil with which to draw a wesbite. No more, no less. It’s what is drawn that matters. For the most part, this technology entered the greater public marketplace of ideas already on the meta-level of discussion, having skipped over the basic “what is it” stage of life. To wit:

There are differences between the worlds of blogs and LJs. LiveJournal’s user base skews young, drawing a large proportion of teenagers, whereas blogging tends to attract users in their late 20s and early 30s. Additionally, LJ is seen as a private space for networking and interpersonal discourse; blogs are viewed as one-person publications directed toward a larger audience. A growing number of people maintain both an LJ and a blog, but the two camps traditionally don’t mix, with some bloggers dismissing Journalers as trivial kids and Journalers mocking bloggers as wannabe Web stars.

Huh? What? Shoot, I saw the SixApart demo at Webzine this weekend and just never picked up on a huge difference. And in the first graf I pulled above, didn’t the writer say LJ opened up Web logging for whatever? Is it web logging or not? Would a rose by any other name be blogged as easily? Discussed online as easily? Lordy, the whole thing gives me a headache – and I’m guessing with the faux sociological sheen given by the article, it might give Jonas Luster an ulcer.

If meta blog/LJ discussion continues goofily in the SF forest of new technology, does it make a sound?

2 Comments so far

  1. Nicole Lee (unregistered) on September 27th, 2005 @ 1:57 pm

    While I do agree that blogs are just websites with a different purpose, the second quoted paragraph is indeed very true. This is partly why a large part of the LJ community balked when Six Apart bought LiveJournal, thinking that their precious LiveJournal community will now be part of a “blog empire”, which they insist they are not a part of. The semantics are slim and the difference to a non-Web person is little to none, but for some reason, a lot of bloggers and LJers still see themselves as different people, with different websites. A lot of it stems from the perception of LJ as a community-based system (think of it as a very very huge message board), and blogs as just mouthpieces for navel-gazing. Again, one could argue they’re all the same, but there it is.

    I was going to pontificate more, but I have a ride in 5 minutes. So, bye!


  2. cd (unregistered) on September 27th, 2005 @ 11:00 pm

    The physiological mechanics of a mouthpiece for navel-gazing are wonderous, no?

    ;)



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