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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

BetterKnowanSFBlog: LiveJournal

Posted By on Tue, Jan 1, 2008 at 9:00 AM

Every Tuesday morning we profile one of the Bay's many cool blogs in a segment we call -- BetterKnowanSFBlog. This week: thoughts from LiveJournal's Kimmy Nguyen and Krissy Teegerstrom.

click to enlarge krissy1.jpg

Photo of LiveJournal's Krissy Teegerstrom courtesy of mattdork on Flickr.

By Tyler Callister

In 1999, LiveJournal helped pioneer both the blogging revolution and the social networking revolution. It predates blog services like WordPress and Moveable Type, and it predates social networking giants like MySpace and Facebook. Some LiveJournal users have been at it for close to a decade.

As we reported a few weeks ago...

Russian company SUP has purchased LiveJournal from Bay Area blogging company Six Apart. But luckily, SUP hasn't fired anybody (or closed down the whole damn operation like what's happened with CompUSA) so I was able to speak to LiveJournal Product Manager Kimmy Nguyen and LiveJournal Product Marketing Manager Krissy Teegerstrom.

Nguyen thinks that LiveJournal's primary appeal is the sense of community. "People meet organically and become friends, sometimes they get married--we've seen several instances of that," Nguyen said. "So it's a very vibrant, prolific community."

In a way, LiveJournal's design philosophy is much like that of WordPress's Matt Mullenweg who favors elegant, simple web design. As we pointed out in our last report, some social networking sites gobsmack you with unwanted music and video, dancing advertisements, and general cutesy mayhem, while LiveJournal is a much simpler, cleaner-looking site. Nguyen said there's generally an "unwritten rule" that users don't "like clicking over to somebody’s LiveJournal and having music automatically load and stuff flash at you."

Also like WordPress, LiveJournal's code is open source, meaning the software code is free and open to the public, with no intellectual property restrictions. "It's one of the things we pride ourselves in, is keeping things open," Nguyen said.

It's impossible to discuss LiveJournal outside of the context of the social networking revolution dominated by MySpace and Facebook. But LiveJournal came first, and, as Nguyen points out, LiveJournal is really a much different universe. "LiveJournal, while it has a social networking aspect, it's more of a journal blogging site," she said.

So it's the focus on writing that has made LiveJournal what it is. Nguyen said that LiveJournal has even boosted the careers of some aspiring writers. “It’s a lot more writing heavy and content focused rather than just photos or small bits of things," Teegerstrom said.

Nguyen and Teegerstrom also emphasize that the LiveJournal community is not as superficial as some networking sites tend to be. "I think the depth of connection you can make is really amazing," Teegerstrom said. "It's more about quality over quantity."

Teegerstrom points out that the definition of "blog" is expanding, and people no longer give you a blank stare when you mention it. "It's been fascinating just over the last two years how many more people have understood what a blog is."

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Ty Callister


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