Jun 08 2021

Blog as Social Connector

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I miss my LiveJournal.

Putting some thought this morning into the much-mourned LiveJournal. I mean yes, technically LiveJournal still exists, but even if it hadn’t been yucked up by its sale, it was already a ghost of its former self at that point. At its height, LiveJournal combined the experience of a blogging community, an active Twitter feed, and an RSS reader all in one. With powerful community-searching and keywords, and a PAGINATED, CHRONOLOGICAL FEED (*bows and presses hands together at such a wonder*), LiveJournal was a way to connect with your current friends, find new ones, and have as deep or as frivolous a conversation as you wanted without being sabotaged by the algorithm. You could get bot-swarmed by trolls, that’s a danger everywhere on the internet, but there were also tools for dealing with that.

Of course, the problem was that it was expensive to run, and as the airline industry (and just the *#$^ing existence of MS Word) proves, some individuals may be willing to pay for something that doesn’t suck, but people in the aggregate will not pay a single cent for an objectively much better experience if they can get something terrible that does the same job for cheaper or free. And so Facebook, Twitter, and other “you’re the product not the customer” scramble-your-feed-for-pay services flourished, while LiveJournal, where you had to put in your own HTML code and pay for the privilege, did not.

Unfortunately, the 21st century has shown that the nature of modern technology is to start out pretty cool and over time get progressively worse, and social media is no exception. There are still some blogs around, writers banging away stubbornly on their keyboards because that’s who writers are, in the same way that newspaper comic strips technically still exist. But I can’t remember the last time I got involved in a meaningful discussion with a community through them. I gather that Discord (and to a lesser extent Telegram) is the place for that kind of connection, but I’ve never been able to operate in that kind of environment. I like my discussions to be high signal-to-noise and siloed by topic–in a way that I can find and reference later, mind you–but forums are just as moribund as blogs are.

So what to do? Twitter’s own users regularly refer to it as “this hellsite” and lament their own seeming addiction to it. (See also, Hank Green’s recent video, “Is Twitter Redeemable?”)

Facebook is and always has been a dumpster fire, partially due to the technology, but mostly due to the “hate speech is peachy as long as it pays” avarice of its owners. Tumblr is a niche platform that keeps trying to evict its only users. Pillowfort and Dreamwidth are the Good Guys, but they also don’t have the enough of a user base to create and sustain community (and Pillowfort has been plagued by bugs and long term shutdowns). I don’t have an answer; it may be that the journaling format was just a 15-year blip that has gone the way of BBS’s and editorial pages, and I should just let it go.

But I really like it, and I want it to come back.

Filed under : Gneechy Talk | 2 Comments »

2 responses to “Blog as Social Connector”

  1. Ray says:

    Have you checked out the WordPress.com community? They have a “Reader” section on the backend that shows the latest posts from a variety of WordPress.com hosted blogs from which a rather large community has sprung from.

    I’ve been impressed with it and the community within. Might be what you’re looking for.

    • The Gneech says:

      I’ve looked at blogs hosted there, but I haven’t looked into the site itself as a community.

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