thank god dreaming’s free;
Annoyed – perhaps disproportionately so – by the news that LiveJournal now no longer offers a free account which isn’t supported by advertising. The problem that the platform’s users have with this development is not so much the introduction of advertising – every other site has it, after all – but rather with the way in which the news was delivered. Or rather, not delivered: the development was “outed” by a LiveJournal user in the comments to one of the site’s monthly updates.
I’ve been a LiveJournal user since at least 2002, and have a lot of love for the platform even as I feel I have outgrown it. I’ve met many friends through the site, and am confident that this blog wouldn’t be as widely read if it wasn’t for the community I became a part of back when I was posting there a little more regularly (the fact that the syndicated feed of this blog is one of the 1,000 top feeds on the site is a pretty clear indication). So I have watched with disappointment during LiveJournal’s two respective sales, observed the bumbled introduction of advertising and the “sponsored journals” that were little more than unlabelled corporate shills until they rethought the policy and flagged them up a little more clearly, and despaired during the mass deletion and subsequent restoration of predominantly fandom journals that became known as Strikethrough ’07.
When LiveJournal was first sold to SixApart (it has subsequently been sold again), I remember people worrying that the target demographic of the site was changing with us older users being nudged towards sister company Vox. I could link to Vox itself, but the URL is not rocket science and my dear friend Jonic’s one-man campaign against the site is much more entertaining. The sad thing is that with this lastest announcement, the Myspacification of LiveJournal – for want of a more elegant term – seems complete. While us older adopters might scowl and moan about “the old days”, kids today are so accustomed to seeing advertising all over their Bebo profiles that they won’t see the problem in seeing advertising on a site unless you pay. And they’re right of course – the virtual world is one that changes as much as the real one, and it’s evolve (or install Firefox ad blockers) or die. I still have a LiveJournal account, where I occasionally post things either too trivial or too personal for this site, and keep up with friends. I will hold onto that account as long as I need to for at least the latter purpose, and tut as the “new management” refuse to learn from their mistakes.
Advertising on blogs makes me uncomfortable. I understand why people do it, of course – webspace doesn’t pay for itself. I pay about £10 a month to run this site, which doesn’t include an annual domain name charge and an annual subscription to Flickr – one “social networking” site I feel is worth every penny. That’s not me moaning – I could get it for cheaper, and I will as soon as I have a minute to look into the whys and wherefores and whine at my Web Hedgehog (if Neil Gaiman gets a “Web Elf”, I can have a hedgehog) to explain the techy bits. I feel that advertising calls into question the impartiality that is one of the most obvious benefits the medium has over new media. There’s a lack of control inherent in programmes such as Google’s Adsense as well that makes me squirm. It’s my loss, of course – and now I wonder if perhaps I’m sitting on a goldmine.
Meh, it’s the weekend and you don’t care. Have you found Ryan Adams’ utterly bonkers blog yet? That’ll keep you going for a good five minutes while you work up the energy to go concern yourself with real matters.