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Below are the 18 most recent journal entries recorded in ElseJournal's LiveJournal:

Monday, March 16th, 2009
11:51 am
Hey kids,

Well, it's not exactly what Elsejournal was proposed to be, but Dreamwidth is up and running. We're in closed beta right now, with open beta coming as soon as we finish bug squashing. Some handy-dandy links:

Dreamwidth isn't open to the general public yet; as I mentioned earlier, we're still in closed beta. That being said, open beta is coming, and when it's here there will be a few ways to get an account:
  • Know someone who has a DW account who will give you an invite code.

  • Buy a paid account (you can get one for 6 months and let it expire after that).

  • Buy a permanent account.

My DW is right here. Feel free to log-in with your LJ OpenID (it is usually USERNAME.livejournal.com) and comment on my posts, or go to my profile and subscribe to me. Then you can read my posts on your reading list! It's all terribly exciting, let me tell you internets.

See you over at Dreamwidth!

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
8:22 pm
Dreamwidth Studios
Anyone else see the announcement for Dreamwidth Studios? Thoughts?

Current Mood: curious
Friday, May 16th, 2008
6:16 pm
What should an open protocol look like?
Since this conversation has gone kinda dead (and even the wiki, supposedly the center of attention, hasn't been updated recently), let's see about trying to foment some useful, if slightly tangential, conversation.

As I've previously said, I'm the loyal opposition here. I'm not doing Elsejournal per se -- that is, I'm not trying to build an alternate/distributed version of LJ. Rather, I'm building CommYou, which is a new service that is rather similar to LJ, but with more focus on the conversations rather than just the posts themselves. It's not currently open-source, and it's not likely to become so: it's a serious commercial venture, not a hobby thing.

That said, I do think open protocols are a genuinely good thing for everyone, and it's in my interest to try to help them come into being. I don't intend CommYou to be a walled garden -- my users *should* be able to get at their own conversation data from outside, and I should be able to import from other sources. Indeed, I think even LJ, despite being open-source, does a pretty crappy job of this: even backing up your journal is far more work than it should be, and god forbid you want to actually *read* your journal through other means. I want CommYou, at least in the long run, to do *much* better, with open APIs and open protocols -- a major piece, but only a piece, of a true conversation ecology.

So here's the question: what should a putative open protocol for such sites look like? What are the authentication requirements? What kind of data gets pushed around, and how does that happen? (Pushing? Polling? Both?) I think that's the first and most important question we have to answer if we're going to have sharing between conversation sites, whether they are micro-blogging/distributed style like Elsejournal or monolithic like CommYou or LJ. If we can figure out how we're sharing the conversations, we have a crucial first step towards figuring out how our sites work.

(Yes, this is a very technical question. But at least half the question is simply what should be shared, by whom, when, with what proofs -- much more about the high-level intents and designs, not just the nuts and bolts.)
Wednesday, May 7th, 2008
2:30 pm
Is there a status on the varied ideas suggested a few months ago...?
Monday, April 7th, 2008
12:28 pm
I Know The Details Aren't All Worked Out Yet..
But is there any kind of projected time frame that ElseJournal is looking at? Just curious.

Current Mood: curious
Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
5:56 pm
Friend of mine, ravan made this suggestion in relation to fixing Live Journal. It occurred to me that as model for elsejournal it would also work.

Consider under this model, in order to create a journal you have three choices;
1] pay for it.
2] put up with adverts. (plus accounts)
3] ask someone you know who has a paid account for an invite code for a free basic account.

This does several things;
1] it means that those with paid accounts can create basic free accounts for rpg journals etc. [adding yet another reason to get a paid account]
2] it means that those who get basic free accounts automatically are part of a social network. Increasing "stickiness".
3] we still get advertising revenue, without forcing the ad-adverse to use ad-blocking software etc.

I'd additionally suggest that one could also increase the levels of 'goodies' one gets depending on the type of account. Thus adding an incentive to upgrade from basic to plus, and plus to paid. Plus decreasing the recycle time on usernames from deleted journals and of course, culling inactive journals more frequently. [which would reduce server load.]

Current Mood: busy
Saturday, March 22nd, 2008
10:46 pm
Some musings on a decentralized LiveJournal
I just posted some musings on a decentralized LiveJournal that may be of interest (it's actually the second half of the post). I came to the conclusion that a decentralized version of LiveJournal may not be possible, or if so, is technically very difficult and not likely to happen any time soon.

Current Mood: amused
2:18 pm
Introduction, and some things to consider
Howdy, all. I'm Justin -- some of you know me, some don't. I'm a longtime social-tools geek (a user since 1987, a full-time programmer focused on them since 1995).

I'm sort of in an odd position here, because I'm already in the process of creating a new system *somewhat* along these lines. CommYou is going to be a purely conversation-oriented system that sits on *top* of social networks. My take on it is that there are already too many social networks out there already, and the world doesn't need more of them. What it does need is the ability to use those networks to do something useful. (Yes, this project started as, "Why the hell is Facebook so useless?") It's explicitly a for-profit company, albeit shooting for a more modest level of profit than is typical of Internet business -- I'm trying to make enough money to eventually retire, but not trying to become a billionaire. (I'm seeing if I can avoid VC money, specifically so I can avoid the get-rich-quick mentality that engenders.) I'm self-bootstrapping the company, which is a little slower than I'd like, but gives me a chance of keeping true to my vision.

So take anything I say here appropriately: as someone who is intrigued by this project, but is also pretty explicitly a competitor to it. I have no intention of lying to or misleading anybody, but I'm biased as all hell and you should take that into account.

Anyway -- a few initial thoughts. First, I'd recommend paying attention to the rest of the world. It's very easy to get wrapped up in the LJ-centric mentality, but keep in mind that LJ is a *tiny* system, relatively speaking -- small enough that it doesn't even show up in most charts of social networks. LJ users have a tendency to be scornful of the other systems out there, and are often pretty blind to the good ideas that are floating around. This is a *very* active field of growth and study, and evolving literally day-by-day. The balkanized world of social networks is beginning to open up and interoperate, and if you aren't paying attention to the big projects that are working on that opening, you're simply dooming yourselves to irrelevance.

LJ (and its clones) are unique for exactly one reason: they are a hybrid between blogging and social networking. That hybridization has produced a lot of power, but it hasn't been carried anywhere *near* far enough yet. A lot of LJ users have serious tunnel-vision: many simply don't understand how limited and primitive a platform it really is, probably nearing the end of its useful lifespan as the rest of the world moves on. There is a *lot* of room for growth and imagination here. I have a *zillion* features planned for CommYou, to make conversation more powerful than it is in LJ; I expect that, if both projects are successful, ElseJournal will steal lots of those ideas. I encourage you to come up with features that I can steal in return. This idea of social conversation has been stuck in neutral for a remarkably long time -- it's time to start evolving again.

So anyway: those are a few thoughts from a friendly competitor. I hope y'all don't mind me kibitzing a little here -- it's an interesting project, and a little healthy competition should be good for the members of both projects. (And if y'all do decide that my presence makes you uncomfortable, I'll toddle off...)
Friday, March 21st, 2008
10:58 pm
What about getting rid of the one-point-of-failure entirely?
I've been thinking about "what comes after LiveJournal" a bit lately, and I think I've got an idea that's I think is important.

The problem of LiveJournal, fundamentally, is that it is a single organization, and therefore that it can be controlled, and it can be sold. Even though a non-profit or a co-op or what-have-you may be free of the dangers of being sold, it is still a single point of potential failure, and can be controlled.

I think the solution is to avoid this problem. Nobody's going to do something with my blog that I don't like, because it's my blog, on my domain name, on my server. (Well, okay, co-op server. But still.) Or, as a more mature model, there's Usenet -- for better or for ill, Usenet is what it is, and while it may fade away, it's not going to change.

I think the solution is to find a decentralized model for social friends-lock-able networking. A way that I can have my journal on my machine, and you can have your journal on your machine, and people can have journals on machines provided by the ElseJournal co-op or whatever is there, but with the ability to use my journal identity to see locked posts on your journal (if you want me to) and to comment there, and to have friendslists that link to other journals on other sites, and so forth.

I think the solution is to come up with an open standard for this sort of thing, and implementations of it, and maybe a co-op or two to provide services under it to users who don't want to run their own servers (which I suspect is the vast majority of us -- running something like this is work!).

And that way, whatever happens with the company, the network survives, and those of us who are affected can pick up our pieces and move them somewhere else and connect back to the network as a whole.

The OpenID project looks like a good start with a piece of this, but it's only a piece. What other pieces do we need? What projects are out there? A bit of looking into this seems to indicate that other people are working on it already, but I don't know details.
Thursday, March 20th, 2008
5:17 pm
Non-Profit and/or Coop?
I would like to propose that Elsejournal be a non-profit and/or cooperative, and that we plan ultimately to incorporate as a non-profit or as a consumer cooperative.

Why, and what this would mean:

1) I feel that a vast majority of the woes of LJ and of its clones have been a product of profit-seeking. I ran the numbers back when, and LJ's paid accounts seemed to cover about six full-time employees, plus all necessary infrastructure at that time. Nobody is going to get rich on that business model -- but getting rich is why people buy and sell companies. 6A didn't buy LJ because they wanted a nice little business that could afford 6 full time employees. They bought LJ because they thought they could make it the next cash cow. They couldn't. SUP is about to discover the same thing.

LJ was a successful small business (which may sound strange, in that it had hundreds of thousands, then millions, of users), but was never a cash cow. It's owners keep thinking, "Geez, there's got to be something we can do to this goose to make it lay golden eggs!" But there isn't.

Oh, there are ways to monetize LJ better, and to get a better gross income without napalming the flowers (and I'm happy to explain them to LJ, if they ask). But none of them are going to make anybody millionaires.

If my assessment is true, then LJ's old/present business model -- the one which is so inadequate for industry -- makes it a perfect candidate for either a cooperative non-profit which manages to keep itself in the black.

Furthermore, I think what most of us want is not merely another service to be a powerless customer of, but something in which We the Users have ownership. And the model for that is a consumer co-operative. Fellow locals to the Camberville area are probably already familiar with the Harvest Co-op and the (Harvard/MIT) Coop.

2) Does non-profit mean it's all volunteers? Doesn't that mean we can't sell paid accounts? No and no. As it happens, I work at a non-profit (a 501(c)3 for those who care). Hospitals in the US are (usually) non-profits. Credit Unions can be considered non-profits. Museums are non-profits. The Girl Scouts of America is a non-profit. Universities are non-profits. Lots of things are non-profits, some of which are even large institutions with multi-million dollar budgets and thousands of employees. (I'm not suggesting we become one. I just want to remind everyone of the breadth of scope that "non-profit" can encompass.) Non-profits can sell admission, products (including cookies :) and services in competition with for-profits.

All that "non-profit" means is that it is no external owner -- no sole-proprietor, no stock holders -- no one to whom any profits made are disbursed. Which, by the way, means non-profits can make a profit (heaven knows, we try), it's just that that money stays in the non-profit and isn't paid out as profit to any owners.

3) Does cooperative mean everyone has to volunteer to use it? No. Cooperative businesses typically sell to anyone -- but give a discount to volunteers/donors or pay back a dividend (share of the profit) annually. Anyone can shop at Harvest; but if you join you get a discount when you do. Anyone can shop at the Harvard Coop; members get some percentage of their purchases back annually.

4) Neither of these models says anything whatsoever about what price structure we do or don't have, how we do or don't use volunteer or professional labor. All they do is protect this journaling system from being run to the benefit of someone other than its users -- us -- and against profitability being its sole guiding priciple.
Wednesday, March 19th, 2008
10:24 am
To whomever registered elsejournal.com
Please use a registrar which is not via GoDaddy.

It's not that I'm wed to the EJ name, but all the other names I can think of are taken.
8:25 am
Moving posts to another blog

Will not move comments, but will (from what I'm told) easily move your posts.

To download your LJ.
7:57 am
Going somewhere Else.
With all the latest crap going down, has anyone mirrored this site over in WordPress or Blogger? I really think it could be wise to actually move platforms and then discuss it elsewhere.
11:49 am
Stuff for people to think about.
Banner Blindness or why adverts don;t work.
Free is the new business model. wired mag article.
The Rodney McKay principle of Consumerism.  or why SUP regarding it's customers as hostile forces is a bad idea.

If I might make a suggestion...accounts that are free but are invite only, and asking for donations to support the project worked pretty well for LJ at first.

Current Mood: awake
Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
2:15 pm
ElseJournal has a home...
Ok... I can set up a hosting account for elsejournal with unlimited bandwidth and diskspace over at Heart Internet. Umm... if some webmaven would care to tell what they need to make it work that is!

It comes with a whole raft of options, freebie software and stuff, and I'm not very savvy when it comes to this! I'm guessing, domain set-up and FTP account with MySQL at a minimum... but what else? I'm a wage-slave now, so I don't have a lot of time to help in the nuts & bolts, but I can donate the resources if someone else does the building.

Also... will there be ads or no ads? or ads limited to non-journal pages? And is it open, or invite only?
8:34 am
Other code - Ning?
Speaking strictly as a user, the only bloggish software I've used and liked as much as the LJ code has been Ning, as used at http://www.hauntuniverse.com.

It promotes a strong sense of community, and though there aren't many options for tweaking layouts, it's sorta a softer version of Facebook with more across-the-board sharing of the type I sometimes wish was here on LJ.

Just a thought. :)
Monday, March 17th, 2008
12:27 pm
How committed are people to the LJ codebase?

I have been working on a Django-based replacement for LJ, something that is still heavily community-based the way LJ is, but with some improvements for some of the specific ways people have creatively used LJ. I went with Django for scalability reasons, and there are some design things specifically aimed at hosting an LJ-sized community. The effort's been sort of stalled for a while for a variety of reasons, but I still think it makes sense and I could certainly make some time for it.

Here's a collection of notes:Collapse )

Opinions? I do not need coders right this second, though of course I will at some point. And this only addresses the codebase and the technical issues of hosting and scalability, and not things like (for example), "Should the main site, or some member sites, be hosted outside of the U.S. for legal reasons?" or "What, if anything, is the pricing structure?" or many, many other administrative questions that still need to be answered.

Current Mood: thoughtful
1:55 pm
The name and marketability.
I think that an "I've gone somewhere Else" promotional campaign would be hot like chili-spiced lava. Just saying.

Current Mood: creative
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