Is LJ a Blog Service?
July 21, 2010 8:00 PM   Subscribe

Are Livejournals blogs? Is Livejournal a blogging service?

They declare themselves a "social media platform". Wikipedia references blogging capability, but calls it a "virtual community".

What do you think? Strictly semantic/pedantic/didactic answers welcome & appreciated.
posted by batmonkey to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
According to Wikipedia's definition of blogs it is:

Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic.

posted by amethysts at 8:01 PM on July 21, 2010

It's a social network of blogs.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:02 PM on July 21, 2010 [6 favorites]

Livejournal was blogging probably before the word was coined. I can't really see how an argument could even be made that it's not blogging. It would be like arguing that okcupid is not a dating site, because it offers more than just dating. You can say "I don't use okcupid for dating" but you can't say "okcupid isn't a dating site".

Are there any blogs that are not a social media platform? If the intention is for others to read it, it's social.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:10 PM on July 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

While the focus at livejournal is a little more on community-based interactions and building friendships, I would say that each individual journal counts as a blog.
posted by you zombitch at 8:23 PM on July 21, 2010

I have a hard time thinking of any current usage of "blog" which wouldn't cover Livejournal. LJ also does the “social networking” thing though (friends-based permissions and such), and social media is a newer and more fashionable term than blogging, so that's probably why they use the term.

It's possible to divorce the two: you could have a blog provider with no particular capability to set up persistent relationships between users. Or you could have a social-networking site with no "postings-and-comments" features.

One occasional early use of "blog" focused more on posting a sequence of interesting links, without the modern focus on text and commentary. But you can certainly use LJ for that.
posted by hattifattener at 8:23 PM on July 21, 2010

Response by poster: Interesting to note that MeFi bends the definition of "blog" as provided by Wikipedia.

To sharpen the point on this pencil a bit, if an individual Livejournal doesn't provide the "typical" mix of elements associated with a blog (say, it's primarily someone's internal dump), is it still a blog?
posted by batmonkey at 8:29 PM on July 21, 2010

The only thing that "bends" Wiki's definition of blog is the word "individual". And even so you could say that individual is still Matt Haughey.

I think the most basic and oldest definition of "blog" is chronological posts about stuff that are organized around a basic theme. Metafilter's theme is "interesting stuff on the web". A personal livejournal's theme might be "Stuff that happened and how I felt about it". A major sports blog's theme might also be "Stuff that happened and how I felt about it". A news blog's theme might also be "Stuff that happened and how I felt about it".
posted by amethysts at 8:54 PM on July 21, 2010

MeFi does not "bend" the definition of a blog, it qualifies it: MeFi is a "group blog."

And as to your sharp point, it's still a blog. It may be a blog you're using as a foo, but it's still a blog.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:12 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The historical context is significant here. I was there, so I feel qualified to discuss...

Journalling/Diary platforms pre-date blogging by a couple of years. Although there were some blogs (or, really, proto-blogs) in existence at the time, online journals using a central platform to maintain them were there first in numbers.

Although the original bloggers were undoubtedly aware of the journalling sites, culturally there was quite a distinction between the two forms which persisted for years and arguably persists to this day (though the boundaries have become so blurry as to be indistinguishable).

As I recall it, when blogging came along - and more importantly, blogging platforms - they shared some of the same affordances as journalling sites, but executed in distinct ways. I'm thinking specifically about permalinks, reverse-chron display of posts, and the treatment of archives.

Most of these distinctions have broken down to some extent, but I think at least some aspects of this persist to this day. Is LiveJournal now a blog? Kind of, but not entirely.

So there were two key groups of distinctions between journalling and blogging back in the day.

1. Cultural distinctions. Journalling tended to be more focused on a writer's exploration of their own personal experiences. You could say that it was (for many/most) primarily about taking experiences with the world at large and processing it internally, and recording the process. The internal focus was key.

Blogging, on the other hand, was from the beginning very explicitly about a writer's attempt to analyze, react, and provoke discussion about things "in the world" for an explicitly external audience. That external focus was the key - and this is most evident considering the significance of the link+commentary form of the blog. This was much stronger in the early days than it is now - but for many years, it was one of THE distinguishing features of the blog form (and arguably THE thing that distinguishes blogging as a truly innovative form).

This spun out in a different way as well, in the sense that a journal entry would typically have been much longer than a typical blog post.

2. Technical/execution distinctions. Journalling had it's prototypes as well, but journalling was very much an "it happens within the central platform" thing. Blogging was very much a "do it in your own location (i.e., web hosting account)" even in cases when people were using centralized platforms like Blogger to make it happen on the back end.

Being a hosted thing, journalling also had more options WRT to comments than blogging had originally. In fact, I would still dispute the idea that inline commentary is a definitive feature of the weblog form - and in the early days, other than here and some other very rare spaces, there were NO inline comments in blogs. To engage in any kind of "conversation" one had to have his or her own blog and (using the link+commentary form) write a blog post to engage with another blogger. [Interesting side note - the most similar "thing" to blogging in its first 3-4 years is Twitter today]

As well, journalling sites were always quite explicit about the capacity for a journaller/diarist to allow a limited, specifically permitted group to read the material being posted. Blogs, on the other hand, were always quite explicitly public, for anyone to read and to comment upon (on your own site, natch).

One last thing - the international spread of blogs and journals has not been uniform. Germany, for instance, has maintained a much higher proportion of online journals compared with blogs, whereas in the anglo-saxon world the reverse is true - blogs became dominant relatively quickly following the founding of the form. I have read that Russia is also much more a journal-dominant compared with blogs, whereas France is more bloggy than journalley. In the case of France, this probably has to do with my very own home, Montreal, which had a very early and very strong blogging community in both English and French - and French journalists (from France) took notice and spread the idea...

You said you welcomed didactic or pedantic answers... your wish is my command ;->
posted by mikel at 9:21 PM on July 21, 2010 [24 favorites]

Response by poster: That is *precisely* what I was looking for, mikel! Thank you from the bottom of my twisted little heart.

re: bending - yep, I was specifically going off the specificity of "individual".

Thanks to all of you for your explorations on this. I really appreciate the help and improved clarity!
posted by batmonkey at 10:00 PM on July 21, 2010

The only difference between blogging and writing journal entries is precisely nothing. To answer your question, yes, LiveJournal is a blog service.

And MeFi is absolutely not a blog.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:51 AM on July 22, 2010

When I used my LJ people on there who referred to them as 'blogs; annoyed me, for some reason. I think in my head 'journal' and 'blog' were different things - I sometimes bitched about personal stuff in locked entries - although some users like Momus definitely used it as more of a blog blog.

The longest-running blogger I know, Dickon Edwards, has called his blog 'Dickon's Diary' since 1997, because that's what it is - what he does, what he thinks - not a blog about news, politics or anything else. It might touch on those subjects, but only framed by his lens. That's how I see LJ.
posted by mippy at 5:26 AM on July 22, 2010

A livejournal can be a blog. A livejournal does not have to be a blog. A friends-only livejournal about personal drama does not seem like a blog to me. A public livejournal about current events or entertainment or food or anything, really, (including personal drama, if written for an audience) is a blog. The platform does not determine whether something on it is a blog.
posted by millipede at 6:08 AM on July 22, 2010

Blog=weblog=log on the web.
Ergo, blog and journal are the same.

What's the difference between erotica and porn? None, but over time, people will invent a difference which will eventuallybecome convention because it suits people's agendas and prejudices to have a distinction.
posted by Deor at 8:41 AM on July 22, 2010

Really, although some people may distinguish "blogging" and "journalling" as different cultural practices, I think the most generally accepted definition of "blog" is
Weblogs, or "blogs," are frequently updated websites where content (text, pictures, sound files, etc.) is posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order.*
See also here, here and here for just a few more examples. And as this article notes, the content of a blog can be pretty much anything.

So in terms of what the scholarly community thinks, the only real consensus is that a blog is a webpage, and almost all definitions include the "reverse chronological order" requirement for entries. Probably statistically most are maintained by one person, but that is in no way a requirement. MetaFilter, as noted right on the front page is a blog, specifically a community blog.

The content does not make something a blog, only the format.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:47 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

And journals (in my experience, and I've also been doing it that long) tend to devote one page to a day (main page being most recent), where the blog has multiple entries on the main page, most recent on top. Comments always optional in either format. Oldest online diary I know is The Gus and don't believe he calls his a blog. The original web-logger is Jorn who started Robot Wisdom but now he updates here.

journalling sites were always ... about a limited, specifically permitted group

But not in the beginning - hard-core, 'real' online journalists want(ed) maximum exposure, not hincky in-groups.
posted by Rash at 9:34 AM on July 22, 2010

Response by poster: Civil_Disobedient: wot?!? blasphemy! it's right there in the little bubble! "community weblog"!

Still enjoying the other interpretations, but haven't seen anything to compare to mikel's summary thus far...
posted by batmonkey at 10:56 AM on July 22, 2010

« Older Livin' La Vida Loca.....   |   Preserving a vital resource Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.