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Friday morning at ConJosé I attended a Special Interest Group set up by a few Live Journal users. I’ve looked at Live Journal before; of all the various web log systems it seems to be the one most focused on community in the sense of creating communities via links to like minded Live Journal members, or “friends,” as Live Journal would have it, and a comment system. Live Journal struck me as a good system to introduce undergraduates in introductory composition classes to writing for the web as a way of getting them to write and to think critically about writing as well as just becoming comfortable with writing as a habit. Most, but not all, of the Live Journal users are creating journal-like pages.
Live Journal is a free service, though they encourage users to support Live Journal ($25.00/year) by offering extra services. It’s open source as well. There are even a variety of clients, for pretty much any OS you’d want, to use in posting if you don’t want to rely on a browser and web-based posting. The FAQs are here. It includes the usual structural devices, like chononological based postings, with the newest at the top, a calendar for access to the automatic archives, and various ways of editing and deleting and controlling access to the journal.
Listening to the others at the SIG, I was particularly struck by a few observations. These are my observations, and in no way reflect on those Live Journalists referred to, or linked to. I’m sure I’m getting things entirely wrong in some way. They were both helpful and patient in answering my questions, so I expect some kind soul will straighten me out. In particular, The_ogre, Firecat, Wrapper, Isabeau, Rmjwell, Rowanf.
In no particular order then, here are some random observations about Live Journal, based on my admittedly small sampling from the SIG, and some browsing:
- The role of the communities, and interaction between members of a community, is seen as a positive feature of Live Journal.
- Users are particularly aware of the public versus private, and Live Journal software supports that distinction, allowing one to post to a public journal, or to a private one, or to a “communal” one.
- Most users do in fact use the service to create actualjournals about their daily lives and thoughts.
- Several spoke about using Live Journal as a way of creating reminders, either short term (groceries to buy) or long terms (events, thoughts and memories to be recorded now for later recall). I think, more than any of the other web log like systems I’ve seen, Live Journal lends itself to the commonplace book. There are also some obvious ways one could easily and useful use Live Journal as community K-logs or Knowledge logs.
- A surprising number of those at the SIG compared Live Journal to UseNet. This may have been because the group was self-selected based on an interest in SF, one of the largest UseNet communities.
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