Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Some fundamental blog differences

It's struck me recently that I haven't been updating this site over the last few days. It's not that I haven't had things happen over the last week. On the contrary, I had planned all manner of posts about what I've done with my week, from an evening at Roma St ampitheatre watching GNT2's adaptation of Macbeth, to the 26 hour ordeal of the compression system upgrade at work. I've been wanting to sit down and write out some of my emerging theories on narrative, if only so that others can come along and shoot them down in flames.

I've even thought about just doing a whole "stream of consciousness" rant, which I guess is kind of what this is.

Unfortunately this just dosn't seems to be the right place for any of these things. The more I tour around Blogger the more I get the feeling that it seems to be the place where people write about things more than feelings.

In contrast, take a tour around LiveJournal some time. A few friends of mine are doing the LJ thing and the community that has sprung up around them is just incredible. My old bud Patrick recently made a trip to Melbourne which seemed to be full of non-stop social gatherings with people he'd met through LJ. Another friend of mine is appealing to LJ users that attend the same University as her to help push around her wheelchair while when convalesces after a bad accident. They are also being treated as a pseudo-bulleting board for people to post their future whereabouts for their friends ("I'll be at home tonight. Drop over and hang out,"). This is the sort of community I'd never expect to see around the Blogger sites.

I found myself making so many comments on various LJ sites that I've even created my own account so I no longer have to post anonymously. Sure it's adding to the blowout on the number of weblogs being created, but I don't think my addition will skew the figures too much.

This weblog isn't going anywhere, but I just felt like commenting on something that has struck me as a fundamental difference between two formats of what is supposed to be the same technology. Well I found it interesting. Even if it's not.


Anonymous said...

I was quite surprised by the strong community element of LJ, and at first it wasn't something I welcomed; I generally prefer being on the fringe of any group and choosing my interactions.

But these days my LJ-based interactions are a big part of my social life, whether that's meeting people via the setup or getting them onto it. Hell, my trip to Melbourne wouldn't have happened without it; pretty much everyone I saw down there has one.

It's all because of the easy internetworking of the journals; you can just grab a feed to any LJ and monitor it as part of a stream. And the fact that those monitored journals are called "friends" is important too; it puts a face and an emotional context over what's fundamentally just another blog (and in many cases one light on content).

Interestin' stuff.

- P.

Leonard King said...

I have to admit, the ability to monitor friend's sites from within LJ is an interesting element and seems to have done a lot to motivate the building of community.

That said, even with my LJ site I still use Sage, a Newsreader extension in Firefox, and subscribe to the various page's RSS or Atom feeds.

I'm still deciding whether I consider this social/friend aspect a good thing or not so good thing when it comes to educating people about the medium and its potential for the future. It's true that this sort of weblog format does get people more interested in creating their own and opening themselves up to expressing their thoughts through the medium, however it also acts as a sort of barrier for some to looking beyond using it as a scratching post.

Anonymous said...

There is an internality to the system, yes; you can easily fall into a situation where only the same group of like-minded people read your posts, and the whole thing becomes less a means of communicating ideas than a simple social alert network.

Frankly, most LJs are like this.

But at the same time, many of those who develop their LJs this way aren't trying to communicate ideas; their journal is exactly that, a personal expression that they allow others to read.

Those who want to use it for bigger things (such as myself) do so by externalizing that network - ie linking, promoting or plain ol' pimping their LJ, and encouraging the readers to do the same.

For example, my LJ serves partly as a platform for me to communicate my politial ideas and theories. People who follow the link to the site from an RPG site, for instance, get both insider RPG stuff and politics - ditto anyone who clicks the link in my email. Meanwhile, I know that a number of my essays have been disseminated by my readers, both to other LJs and privately.

It can be a neat, pointless closed circuit, but it doesn't have to be.