I miss LiveJournal.

How LiveJournal pioneered (then lost) blogging:

LiveJournal, or LJ, as its users lovingly called it, was a different kind of social media service, one that is almost unrecognizable in a world dominated by the anonymity-shattering power of a Facebook or Twitter. But, as many of its former employees attest, LJ ultimately had the opportunity to become one of these "second-generation" social behemoths. Instead, a stubborn userbase and questionable business decisions harried those ambitions. [...]

Every feature that Facebook has rolled out since I left LJ, we had it first: post by photo, post by SMS, we had those a million years ago. You could call a phone number and record a message, and the audio would get posted to your journal. We had custom friend groups so you could manage where you wanted to post. We had basically all the major features you see today, like a friends page. But we didn't quite figure out how to tell the story or keep people interested. We had every option, but nobody could get it to work. We had the robust privacy options that nobody understands how to use on Facebook. It was a less-public age of the Internet, and one that I sometimes wish we could go back to."

Even though LiveJournal remains all but dead and gone to these ex-employees, its Russified corpse still continues to trudge along, animated by whatever die-hards continue to inhabit the community.

Exhibit A:

Thanks to its US-based servers, LiveJournal had proven extremely popular in Russia since the platform's launch -- so much so that it became the country's standardized word for "blog," similar to Kleenex or Thermos. Eventually, all US employees were laid off in January 2009, and today LiveJournal continues on as a site run by Russians, for Russians.

Exhibit B:

Russia tries to force Facebook and Twitter to relocate servers to Russia:

The Russian government agency responsible for censorship on the Internet has accused Facebook and Twitter of failing to comply with a law requiring all servers that store personal data to be located in Russia. [...]

Russia previously threatened to block Facebook over its non-compliance with the data-storage law in both 2017 and 2018. [...] "But as users flocked to virtual private networks and proxy services to reach Telegram from their mobile devices and computers -- or resorted to building their own -- government censors added large swaths of IP addresses to the block list," we wrote at the time. "And according to multiple sources within Russia, ISPs there are now blocking large chunks of IP addresses associated with cloud services from Amazon and Google."

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6 Responses:

  1. mike_ch says:

    The other problem, as The Stranger noted, is that the Russian owner and compliance with Russian law makes LiveJournal completely inhospitable to queer expression. I still don't think Tumblr exploded because reblogging someone's entire post just to add "lol" at the bottom like some sort of nightmare email thread was really a great way to communicate. It was the right mix of Facebook's feed pre-algorithms, Twitter's reposting, and LiveJournal's "I am a Galaxy Wolf from beyond Saturn trapped in a human body" high school identity cliques.

    • Elusis says:

      Dreamwidth was an option that did not involve being completely useless for commenting and discussion.

  2. Doug Orleans says:

    It's briefly mentioned in the article, but worth repeating: https://www.dreamwidth.org/ is still around, basically a code fork of LJ.

  3. Jeremy Wilson says:

    The local communities were also so much better on LJ than Facebook - the Toronto group, for example, had a lot more participation and general discussion, but perhaps that's because the internet was just smaller back then and not filled with random grandmothers.

  4. apm74 says:

    I remember when I brought up your LiveJournal Web Collage on a work computer circa 2010ish the IT department got ahold of me quite soon after, very concerned about the sudden glut of .ru domains it was seeing in their traffic logs. Oops.

  5. I… think I'm glad BF got out when and how he did? He seemed happier the last time I saw him, so there's that.

    But, yeah: retrospect!

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