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February 28th, 2008


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06:15 pm - official LJ Advisory board announcement
I have exciting news. I've decided to join the advisory board of LiveJournal. It's been brewing for a while, but it became official today.

Anyone who has been following my work for a while knows that I heart LiveJournal with a passion. I've been on LJ in one form or another since 1999/2000 and it's still the only community that I check in with daily for personal purposes. While I love LJ personally, I also deeply respect its history professionally. From its earliest years, LJ was home to many thriving subcultures: geeks, playa obsessed freaks, queers, goths, fans, camgirls, and even post-structural feminist cultural studies scholars. Because I've identified with or dated members of each of these subcultures, I've ended up back at LJ time and time again. Of course, LJ is much more than its subcultures. LJ is also home to teenagers, Russian activists, literary aficionados, knitters, and many many more. Like the community systems of the early web, LJ brings together communities around shared passions. Like contemporary social network sites, LJ serves as a hangout space for friends. Combined, LJ is one of the most powerful tools for people to gather, share, communicate, connect, and chill.

As much as I love LiveJournal, it has not been without drama. From the early days of camgirls to the fights between SixApart and fanfic folk, the various LJ communities have been active in defining what LJ should be about and what community identity looks like. The cultures that flourish inside LJ are vibrant, but often happily underground. Part of what makes LJ the ideal home for this is that LJ has some of the best tools for communicating and negotiating audience (think privacy features). When SixApart bought LJ back in 2005, I wrote a panicked essay called "Turmoil in Blogland" (published in Salon). I was worried that the well-intentioned folks at SixApart meant well, but didn't understand what the cultures of LJ looked like. While they didn't do that bad by LJ, their fights with the community over monetization and censorship showed that they were in over their heads. Not surprisingly, each incident incited a revolt by passionate LJers determined to stand up for what they believe. Each time, I couldn't help grinning. I do love subcultural passion. At the same time, the last round of fanfic revolts saddened me. I understand why there are many who want to up and leave LJ, but I also feel as though much will be lost if they do. Given that LJ is not a psycho corporation and that I think most people on the inside wanna do what's right, I kept wishing that LJ and its subcultural participants would find a way to resolve their issues.

Then, in December, I learned that SixApart was selling LiveJournal to the Russian company SUP. I have to admit that I panicked a bit. I knew that SUP had been pretty good to the Russian continent (having been running it for over a year), but I didn't think they knew diddly squat about the communities that I loved dearly. I was also terrified of some logistics wrt the acquisition; Russia's not exactly known for being a liberal nation state. Within days of the sale, one of the SUP founders (Andrew Paulson) contacted me. He had read my concerned blog post as well as my old essay on LJ. He asked if we could meet to discuss the future of LJ. He wanted to know if I had questions that he might be able to address and advice that might help in guiding the transition. We met and the one-hour meeting turned into four, at which point I had to bail out. Our conversation was intense. We debated some issues, educated each other on others. We found commonalities and talked about how we might resolve some of our disagreements. Above all, what struck me was that he was very willing to listen and open to ideas that would help LJ. We talked about how to handle different communities' needs and how to make sure that activists, outcasts, and rabble rousers would feel safe. In the end, he asked if I would join the advisory board to help guide SUP and LJ in the right direction.

As the advisory board started coming together, I got even more excited. Brad Fitzpatrick, Esther Dyson, Lawrence Lessig... These are all people that I love and trust, that I feel confident will work to protect community interests. SUP has also decided that LiveJournal shall have two positions on the advisory board set aside for user representatives that will be elected by the community (more info on that coming later). To top things off, Jason Shellen will be leading the U.S. LJ product team. (Jason and I worked very closely together at Blogger/Google and I know that I can trust him to be community-minded.) In other words, lots of folks I respect and lots of opportunity for meaningful connections between users and the company.

The mandate of the LJ advisory board is as follows:


  • An international group of informed and trusted thought leaders from the online community, who will advise the management and Board of Directors of LiveJournal Inc in the operation and development of the LiveJournal platform;
  • Charged to meet, discuss, and post their position on the issues that are important to the community. The board will likely discuss a broad range of topics: freedom of speech, privacy, legality, policy, and security, to name only a few;
  • Charged to provide guidance to LiveJournal, Inc. management and the Board of Directors on new issues and controversies as they arise;
  • Charged to speak to and for the users, offering them a voice not only in LiveJournal, Inc., but also on LiveJournal's role in the world;
  • Charged to oversee ongoing charitable work which the LiveJournal, Inc. Board of Directors supports.


Personally, I wanted to join the advisory board to help bridge gaps between the communities and SUP/LJ (the company). With help from the various communities, I hope that I can represent the passionate users out there. While I want to be able to advise the company to do the right thing, I also know that there will be times when compromises are necessary. My hope is that I can also help the company find the best compromises possible as well as help folks understand how decisions were made. Transparency is critical. Personally, I'm looking forward to the challenge. I believe in LiveJournal, I believe in the users. I want to see LJ be a safe home for those who have inhabited it for so long. New landlords are always a bit daunting, but I do think that these new landlords are well-intentioned and I deeply respect that they're wanting to connect to the tenants and bring people in to serve as liaisons.

As much as change is always a bit nerve wracking (especially when it comes to community sites), I'm actually looking forward to this transition. I think that SUP gets that fucking with the thriving communities that are living inside LJ is downright stupid. At the same time, I respect that they want to figure out how to grow LJ in ways that don't negatively affect the current active population. There are lots of issues to be addressed and innovation to be done, but I think that this can be done in a fashion that is beneficial to all stakeholders (including and especially active users). Given the opportunity to help, I just had to say yes.

My private LJ is going to remain private, but http://danahboyd.livejournal.com will be my new public LJ. I'm not sure what all I will use this for, but I will definitely post things relevant to LJ there and be open to communicating with anyone who wants to talk.

W00t!

(26 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:yanatonage
Date:February 29th, 2008 07:35 am (UTC)
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Thanks for writing this! I love LJ too, and I think you'll make a perfect liason between its communities and its corporate body.
[User Picture]
From:a1icey
Date:February 29th, 2008 07:50 am (UTC)
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I'm a livejournal traditionalist - is there any way to prevent them from phasing out the Dystopia layout (at least i think that's what it's called, it's purple and blue and red and it's the one they used back in the sign-up code phase...) I have it set for mine but i noticed you can't manually choose it anymore and I hope that doesn't mean they are phasing it out...

(It's all about the details...)
[User Picture]
From:soph
Date:February 29th, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC)
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You can sill choose it! If you go to http://www.livejournal.com/manage/settings/?view=schemes , you'll be able to choose the old schemes too, including XColibur and Dystopia. (Notice the ?view=schemes bit on the end - if you don't have that it'll just show the new ones.)

The schemes are normally hidden because they're not being updated any more. They haven't been updated for a long time, and work isn't being done on them any more. I was as frustrated with this as you are, so I made a way for Vertigo to look like Dystopia. Check out http://community.livejournal.com/ljskins/2687.html - with this, you'll be able to have a Dystopia lookalike, but using the new Vertigo layout and links, which *is* being updated.

(By the way, if you have questions regarding how LJ works, asking at the Support area is likely to get a faster response than asking here - this is Danah's public LJ.
[User Picture]
From:a1icey
Date:February 29th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
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They must have just changed it.

This was not a support question!!

Edit: I mean, it partly serious (to sort of show one of the "communities" that i think exisits here and see if she considers it a legitimate one) but it was also a light-hearted response!

Sorry, Ms boyd, for taking up this space.

Edited at 2008-02-29 03:09 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:soph
Date:February 29th, 2008 04:20 pm (UTC)
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I'm sorry if you considered my reply to be angry - that wasn't my intention at all. :/

And it wasn't just changed - it's been in place since they did it. Notice the difference if you go to http://www.livejournal.com/manage/settings/ (no Dystopia and XColibur) and http://www.livejournal.com/manage/settings/?view=schemes (Dystopia and XColibur listed).

It was just meant to be a helpful post. Sorry if it wasn't clear. :(
[User Picture]
From:cathexys
Date:February 29th, 2008 03:10 pm (UTC)
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I'm really excited to see you on board, and I hope that y'all actually have some decision making impact!

I for one hope you'll be blogging more here (because I still hesitate to comment on apophenia, even though I know it's utterly silly! :)

And since i'm here anyway: go you on your decision to not submit to non-Open Access journals any more. You and Harvard. *bg*
[User Picture]
From:playingbyheart
Date:February 29th, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC)
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I'm glad you're going to be on the board. Sounds like you'll keep things square. I've been a long-time member of LJ and I'd hate to see it change much. Change might be inevitable, but at least please, please, PLEASE keep the site from turning into MySpace. That's all I ask. :)
[User Picture]
From:perlmonger
Date:February 29th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
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As a long-time reader of (if not commenter on) apophenia, reading this has given me some real hope at last for where LJ is heading; there's nobody I can think of that I'd trust more than you on injecting sense into decision making about online community management (particularly for young people like I'm not).

But off topic, what's with the uppercase "I"?
[User Picture]
From:silpol
Date:February 29th, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC)

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I wonder how you are going to serve whole LJ community, if you have no colue neither of Russian language nor of life in Russia?..
[User Picture]
From:danahboyd
Date:March 1st, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC)
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The advisory board is intentionally diverse so that there are different perspectives heard. The folks at SUP understand Russian and Russia, as does Esther Dyson. Many of the SUP folks are completely unfamiliar with the U.S.-based subcultures which is where I come in.

LJ is not one community, but many. Most of us hope to being able to do our best to represent the different communities and in some cases (especially around language), this will require intermediaries.
[User Picture]
From:silpol
Date:March 13th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC)

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mmmm... I am sorry to say this, but facts have been always to me more important than words.

facts

1) SUP has changed accounts policy from 13th March 2008
2) Brad Fitzpatrick has learned it post-factum and mostly from rumors - see http://brad.livejournal.com/2368071.html
3) granted the content of your and Esther's known public blogs, you both were not informed (or didn't have time to inform community even with one line that policy changes of this scale are possible soon)

my current conclusion - pals at SUP seem to understand _only_ language of banknotes and bank transfers, and they couldn't care less about English or Russian or Zulu or Latin... and Esther Dyson or Brad or you - they take you all with very light heart.

And I am also very sorry to say this but I have learned that LJ during their 6apart era hasn't learned ZERO about privacy (things like declared-in-privacy-policy but non-existent email box privacy at sixapart dot com, their support CANCELING request to solve issue with privacy mailbox without single explanation just in your face, NON replying for physical snail mail sent to mailbox in same privacy policy), and getting to Russian hands made it even worse (from my POV, disposing MY personal data in URLs with all context attached is CLEAR privacy breach), so I have now to consider reporting about their practices to several privacy watchdogs - I think it is proper time to put Livejournal Inc (and their Russian big brothers) into projector light of privacy scrutiny from NGOs... after all, Google and Yahoo and Microsoft and whatnot had been scrutinized - why not Livejournal?
[User Picture]
From:doppmonster
Date:February 29th, 2008 09:16 pm (UTC)
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Yay! I've been watching some of your posts about the LJ shifts and have been quietly crossing my fingers that you'd find a way to influence its direction. So glad you're getting involved!

I'm also in social media/networking and I also use LJ as my private community space, and it is immensely valuable to me.
[User Picture]
From:segue
Date:March 1st, 2008 03:21 am (UTC)
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Having read the recent LJ 2008 post, I thought I would check on your LJ, since you're the only person so far (save Brad) that has a journal on LJ. I must say, I like..., I like a lot. I too, had the same thoughts about Six Apart, and found the SUP sell a convincing idea for LJ's well-being.

Welcome to the board, and thank you.
[User Picture]
From:wordsjunkie
Date:March 1st, 2008 10:42 am (UTC)
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I'm glad that you at least understand the fandom community. That's how I got involved with LJ to begin with. I had never heard about LJ before, and I literally stumbled actoss it when I was searching for fandom links.

I was extremely upset about all the hoohah happening just before I got my permanent account.

I'm hoping that kind of thing will not be happening very often.

Oh and I friended you so I can keep up with you. If I didn't, I'm so busy, it would slip my mind to check your posts.
From:ex_kofyrin_
Date:March 1st, 2008 04:27 pm (UTC)
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Hello! At me "have frozen" two diaries in LiveJournal on charge in infringement of item XVI.7 of the User agreement - "spam". I the researcher and the writer, and for me charges in a spam are offensive. If you read my clauses in my "frozen" ЖЖ - nikolay_kofyrin - could notice, that any my message is not infringement of item XVI.7 of the User agreement as are not " letters of happiness ", neither advertising, nor the offer to participate in the various commercial enterprises". I write to communities strictly on their subjects for the sake of reception of responses and new friends. And owing to LiveJournal I find friends and readers. I have diaries on other blog-services, but only in LiveJournal I was destroyed twice! It is the wrong policy!
To solve a problem of "spam", it is necessary to enter obligatory sanction in all communities and then for all the placed messages will be born the responsibility with a moderator! Personally I and have made on the site http: // www.newruslit.nm.ru to be protected from "spam". Me this conflict interests as a legal and ethical problem. I have written about it clause "Internet-morals". For the sake of a freedom of speech and observance of copyrights I ask to return my diary nikolay_kofyrin as I did not break rules of the User agreement.
Nikolay Kofyrin nikolaykofyrin@mail.ru
[User Picture]
From:firebird157
Date:March 1st, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
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I have a hat just like that one. I bought it in Jan 2005 when I had my head shaved for the tsunami appeal.

Anyway you definately look like one of the good guys, so I'm glad you're on the board.

Becky
[User Picture]
From:its_paul
Date:March 1st, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
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You have been in school since 1996 or am I reading something wrong? Not that there is anything wrong with it but I have never heard of being in school for eleven years. What exactly are you aiming for or toward?

You also can't be that bad since you have Ani as one of your interests. She would be in my interests too if I wasn't so afraid I'd be banned for listing any, since everything I list has to be something I like.

It's nice to see someone who was born in the seventies here also. :D

I'm hopeful that you'll be able to finally do something about LJ in quick order. I have many things I would like to discuss on this web site. Most of them fit into the things that society is not ready to accept. So hopefully, we all can have our own section of the web without being the victim of some do gooder telling me I don't exist or what I feel is wrong and that I'm going to hell for feeling this or that. Furthermore, I'm glad to hear that you can relate to us queers.

I hope it all goes well for you and I'm sure you already know this but, if they keep the communication lines open and explain all of there actions, because perhaps they are following a law we don't even know about, I'm sure things will improve or at least the issues understood so that if we desired to, we could change laws.

As it stands right now we never hear from them unless it's to give a brief explination and then they run for the hills.

Anyways, I'm rambling onward.

Thanks once again for your willingness to try and make this a better place for everyone.

~ Paul
[User Picture]
From:danahboyd
Date:March 4th, 2008 01:56 am (UTC)
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Yes - I've been in school forever, in part because I've worked on four degrees and in part because I've worked the whole time. I too look forward to the possibilities and to help add transparency.
From:tuksan
Date:March 5th, 2008 07:06 am (UTC)
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говорят здесь на русском или нет
[User Picture]
From:danahboyd
Date:March 5th, 2008 08:01 am (UTC)
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Sorry - most of the folks who visit my LJ do not read Russian. I can only understand what you're saying through a friend who interprets for me. Sorry.
[User Picture]
From:gong
Date:March 2nd, 2008 12:03 am (UTC)
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So sad...
[User Picture]
From:_swallow
Date:March 2nd, 2008 07:30 pm (UTC)
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I'm so excited to see you join the board. I love the ambitions you've articulated in this post.
[User Picture]
From:wroughtirony
Date:March 3rd, 2008 09:47 pm (UTC)
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I'm also a longtime LJer, as well as a longtime reader of your blog. I'm thrilled to see you on the advisory board!!
From:tuksan
Date:March 4th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
(Link)
rfr
[User Picture]
From:cyborganize
Date:March 11th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
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I imagine I speak for lots of folks when I say we're thrilled to have you on board!

for all the snark that went on around the SUP sale, I think there's a case that it's a much more hopeful moment than the Six Apart acquisition. Six Apart and LJ weren't a good fit, and I'm relieved (and not surprised) that they dumped it quickly.
From:doctormaybach
Date:December 31st, 2009 12:25 am (UTC)
(Link)
damn your so lucky to get this position wow like a lj moderator



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