penpusher: (LJ Broken)
Back when I was interviewing LJ users for my little project I called [ profile] talk_show, one of my interviewees was a guy named Ryan Estrada. He had just started drawing his "Frank the Goat" comic at that time, which was gaining popularity. Frank the Goat, if you didn't know, was the long time mascot of LiveJournal so having a comic based on the character was both a natural fit and a boon to both the site and the artist.

When the site was bought outright by the Russians, in the wake of the SixApart debacle, Estrada discontinued his comic, and I presume, like many, left the site. But more recently he came back and posted a new comic speaking directly to the issues of freedom of speech, of rights for LGBTQ members and supporters and of why a so-called long form blogging site has rules in place that do not permit opinions of specific sorts.

Thanks to [ profile] tamar for calling my attention to this, even though it occurred in July, so a full season ago. Still, it's a topical take on what's happening around here and is worthy of consideration as we continue to move forward on a platform that feels like a raft made of very thick cardboard on a very troubled sea.

The article about Ryan's action is posted HERE, but here's the comic.

For the record, the comic above is still available on the [ profile] frankthecomic account.

And if you want to go more in depth about this, there's the website listed at the bottom of the comic:

That allows you the choice of listening to a podcast or just reading the transcript to delve more deeply into this topic. Just to give you an overview of what this podcast/transcript is: they go into more detail about how Russia was angry about the criticism of their government by their own citizenry and by some in the west and how they actively sought to shut down the criticism by buying LiveJournal. It's a fascinating report and one that will send you reeling if you didn't know the details.

Still, for my sense about it, the facts are pretty clear: there is no "western" division of LiveJournal. Previously, there was a board that worked in concert with the Russian element. That hasn't been true in years, as far as I can tell, possibly dating back as far as when other [ profile] talk_show interviewee [ profile] marta, who acted as a liaison between the Non Cyrillic and Cyrillic sides, left her position with LJ, about 2011 or 12.

That all leads us to the inevitable questions: "what does it mean?" and "what does it matter?"

For the first question, keep in mind, if the folks running the Russian servers of LJ are determined to disallow us from making certain kinds of statements, they can. We signed their ToS and they have every right to shut us down without any notice and without any recourse. You have to know and understand that when you're examining this situation. Will they shut us down? It's unlikely, because they have other things far more important than the blog entries of some westerners that probably have nothing to do with them. But we know that when it came to the dissidents within their homeland, they definitely cracked down on those posts and perhaps used LJ as a method of locating the people responsible to bring them to "justice." We don't know all the details because we never will.

This, to me, is why I feel unsafe remaining on LiveJournal. No western influence, Russian servers and a proven track record of abuse based on their standards. Will everything remain the same? It might, but we can't, with any kind of certainty, say yes.

To the second question, the most accurate answer I can muster is it depends on what you're willing to accept. We have a documented record of what has already taken place. To simply ignore that record and continue as if nothing has happened? That seems very shortsighted.

Based on what we know about the history of how Russia views LiveJournal, we know two things:

1. The Russians will never let LiveJournal out of their control.

They see LJ as a potential threat to their power and will not release it to some other entity at any time. They worked very hard to get LJ and to prevent people from using it as a platform to air their grievances against the Russian government. There is no price that would permit anyone from buying it back now. LiveJournal, now and forever, is a Russian entity.

2. The Russians could literally pull the plug on LJ at any moment.

Granted, it doesn't seem imminent, nor is it likely to be, but there is nothing that states that, just as they arbitrarily threw up that ToS for all of us westerners to sign ten months ago, they won't just shut down and destroy LiveJournal if some Russian government figure thinks that would be the best choice.

I'm trying to envision a scenario where it makes sense to remain on LiveJournal, knowing these facts. If you think of any, let me know.
penpusher: (Pen)
Twitter made it official this week that they were going to permit "longer tweets." If you're familiar with how twitter works, you know that the standard tweet permitted was 140 characters. There actually was a rationale for that number: they wanted the tweet to be able to fit inside a single SMS (Short Message Service) message, which has a limitation of 160 characters.

Apparently people, in their desire to post... )
penpusher: (LJ Broken)
True confession: Sometimes I like to read through my [ profile] mrkilborn journal. I have to admit, I did some of my better comedy writing just pretending to be a talk show host that no one remembers or cares about now for a bunch of anonymous people who were also pretending to be stars. It was ideal for what I was doing at the time. Maybe I could have put that sort of effort into writing a novel or screenplay or something. Probably. I probably should have! (I am now.)

I am a bit proud (if I can use a Kilbornism from that era)... )
penpusher: (Livejournal Pencil)
My process of writing varies from project to project and from when I was younger to now. And it's certainly informed by all the experience I have had from writing and, of course, from living. So today I'm a different, and I believe better writer than I was even when I started this LJ, almost 13 years ago. I'd better be better, otherwise I just wasted thirteen years!

Maybe I was pretty good then. And maybe the changes aren't so apparent. But the facts are I have a lot more stuff in my writer's toolbox that can be useful than I did back in 2001. And that's a huge positive.

But also the topics I write about have shifted somewhat, and when you talk about LiveJournal as in why have people left the service, this is something to examine. If people consider their LJs as simply self-involved commentary from their younger days, they may feel that the journals they used back then were something embarrassing, something to forget, and that's clearly part of the reason why people may be reluctant to return.

As a writer, I have... )
penpusher: (Livejournal Pencil)
Credit this one to [ profile] dabroots who posted a piece titled: "We are not perky, here at Live Journal." The upshot is facebook is for the happy commentary and anything considered a "downer" there is quickly criticized. And that's not the flavor of LJ.

My quickie comment back was: I like to think we're "real" here at LiveJournal. Which, of course, means perky when that's appropriate, but basically not because it rarely is.

But it's a bit more than that, which is how this thinkpost came to be!

Of course, if you're looking at Facebook... )
penpusher: (Livejournal Pencil)
I'm thinking of the people on my friendslist that don't post anymore. I'm wondering if they ever even think about their LiveJournal accounts, if they ever visit them, ever sneak a peek at their friendslists, ever even read back through their LJs.

I love reading my archives. There's so much great stuff there, partially because of all the great people that commented. That's why I said I would never delete this journal. When others post to it, it's no longer just "mine."

But I'm wondering if there is anything that might get these great people back to at least poke around.

Really, the issue with LJ is it's something you shouldn't have to be "forced" or "coerced" into performing. That's very counter-intuitive when it comes to the process.

And as [ profile] ravenfeather recently pointed out in my most recent "LJ Promotion" post, by placing a comic in the comments, some people associate LJ with their High School years and they've outgrown that.

I guess if you came to El Jay after that time, the stigma isn't there, but the question remains:

If you weren't on LiveJournal, what sort of stuff might bring you back... and maybe as the true first question: what keeps you here now? What are you getting from LJ that makes you still use it?
penpusher: (Livejournal Pencil)
Maybe I should post these statements to a public account, like my [ profile] spaceagers board. But [ profile] tamar is here and can read, and perhaps she can either fill in the people she encounters who might be interested, or send feedback here based on what she's heard from them, if anything. Or she'll suggest a public posting if she thinks it's worth it?

In Promoting LiveJournal - Step Two, I was looking at the basic mechanics of the current site and the userbase that is negotiating it.

Really, there could be an incentive program for current members bringing people to/back to LJ. How many people would you nudge to get 200 additional user icons? How many more sign ups could there be? Don't you want to send some more virtual gifts or get extra LJ Tokens?

Similarly to having celebrities on the site, having active LJ users that attract more people here is a program that could prove positive, overall. Again, how it is handled is both the trickiest part and the most important one.

But, perhaps, the most crucial issue... )
penpusher: (Livejournal Pencil)
In Promoting LiveJournal - Step One, I focused on the elements that might drive people to the site - celebrities, and those that love/hate them.

Traffic is king when it comes to social media, so you have to consider what would get people to visit the site, and then, hopefully, stay around.

[ profile] ravenfeather offered up a pretty nice little concept that might entice celebs to come back - some sort of program that could donate a portion of proceeds to the celeb's charity of choice, possibly based on clicks, views, responses, or some combination. It might be a bit difficult to institute in a way that doesn't create some problems or issues (and maybe long-time users would take offense?), but it really seems like something to consider. It could also be a "test market" for what could eventually be a "profit sharing" system from providing content for ALL users, not just the famous ones... and wouldn't a program like THAT be a way of getting the traffic back?!

I really feel that everything is in place, from a user standpoint, for LJ to explode all over again. Well, most everything. [ profile] dabroots pointed out that when he goes to other sites like The New York Times or other similar news or entertainment sites, there are buttons that allow you one touch to post an article to your Facebook, twitter, reddit, stumbleupon, and a whole bunch of other places, but no blue pencil for LiveJournal.

In fact, LJ doesn't have much... )
penpusher: (Livejournal Pencil)
[ profile] ravenfeather asked me a pointed question: So, how would YOU promote LJ?

I think it's a great question, because it allows me to examine the elements that make LiveJournal the best social media platform of them all and finding the threads that could lead people back here again.

I think you have begin by looking at the history of the other social media sites, look at what they offer(ed) and compare that to what LiveJournal can deliver.

MySpace was the original... )


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