After returning to sustained activity on my LJ for a bit now, I’m seriously considering changing venues for my personal blogging. There’s a few reasons for this, but it comes down to balancing the benefits of the LJ community features against the benefits of other blogging software I’ve been tempted by.
As we learn from Metcalfe’s law, the value of a network is approximately the square of the number of users in the system (Value = (n (n-1))/2). Put otherwise, one telephone is useless, but once there are millions of telephones, that telephone network becomes very valuable, with (1,000,000 * 999,999)/2 = 499,999,500,000 possible connections. (We’re really talking more of a Reed’s law situation with LJ, but these numbers are easier and get the basic idea across.)
So to say it with less numbers and more specifics, the value of LJ’s community features for me at this point is the number (and value) of people I connect to and who connect through me using those features (out of the billions and billions of possible connections and groups of connections available to me through LJ).
I could of course see about maintaining that same network through different means (send people the new blog url or an rss feed), but it seems pretty ingrato to require people to go somewhere new to see what I’m writing, when the LJ norm they’re used to is to just look at their friends page and see what’s going on with me and all the rest of their friends. Sure, there would be RSS feeds for whatever new blog I did and for everybody’s LJ, but it still leaves everybody in the dark on “friends only” content from either side.
I’m hoping to find some middle ground through Six Apart‘s upcoming Project Comet. It appears to offer a more sophisticated blogging experience than LJ but provides similar friend listing and post locking features. (Software I use for other blogging will allow for this as well, but it requires having people log into my individual blog, which I just don’t think anybody will bother to do. If I thought people would, I’d just set up a personal section on my professional blog and be done with it.) If they make Comet accounts interoperable with LiveJournal, and if it provides solid tools for managing your friends list and post security, that may seal the deal… though price will naturally play a role in the decision. (I’m still kinda partial to the whole free idea for personal stuff, what with those years of free LJ.)
In somewhat related news… As our family’s blogging and forum habits change, I’m starting to wonder if we would be better served with an off the shelf family blog than we are with our current forum. (Can you say maintenance nobody has time for?) With the right social network (friends) tools, a group of individual blogs would serve the same purpose and address everybody’s concerns about keeping family matters within the family. I’m definitely eager to see Comet make its way out of closed beta and kick the tires.
- Terry Pratchett | Jingo: Discworld #21 (Unabridged)