Ilansky Russia



Keywords: livejournal.ru turns five, alive and kicking, russia, world
Description: As I’ve mentioned in the previous broadcast, on December 7th, LiveJournal.Ru has celebrated its 5th birthday! So, what sets this blog platform apart? LiveJournal has come a long way. Probably, one of the most important achievements of this blog platform is the fact that it managed to stay relevant in this day and age.

As I’ve mentioned in the previous broadcast, on December 7th, LiveJournal.Ru has celebrated its 5th birthday! So, what sets this blog platform apart? LiveJournal has come a long way. Probably, one of the most important achievements of this blog platform is the fact that it managed to stay relevant in this day and age.

As I’ve mentioned in the previous broadcast, on December 7th, LiveJournal.Ru has celebrated its 5th birthday! So, what sets this blog platform apart? LiveJournal has come a long way. Probably, one of the most important achievements of this blog platform is the fact that it managed to stay relevant in this day and age. What some call the last of the dying breed, a dinosaur living on borrowed time, year after year LiverJournal manages to take a central place in the Russian online society. Everthing is Twitter, Instagram and Facebook these days and it seems like people have forgotten how to express their thoughts and emotions in more than a couple of lines of text and a few photos. Well, the fact that LiveJournal is still quite a popular blog host, at least in Russia, is a testament to the need of some webgoers to communicate lengthy messages to their audience. And the congratulatory message from Mark Ilansky, LiveJournal's editor-in-chief, addresses his service from exactly this standpoint – after all, without the users, a social media website is, well, a ghost-town: regardless of what tools it offers, people are needed to put these tools to good use. You know what they say – if you put a million monkeys clattering away at a million typewriters for a million years they will write War and Peace – at least, according to the probability theory. Well, LiveJournal's userbase – and from here on, I will use it to refer to the Russian userbase as its the most active one. anyway, the core of active LiveJournal users have yet to produce War and Peace – but then again, they aren't monkeys. They are real people talking about real things – what the like, what they don't like and what they want to see changed around them. As Ilansky puts it, LiveJournal is a “great way to not just acquaint oneself with the life of the Russian blogosphere, a relevant sample of the [Russian society], but also a way to make your own blog popular”.

LiveJournal itself is 13 years old – hey, it just became a teenager! The Russian or, how LJ team prefers to call it, the Cyrillic segment of the blog platform has over 6 million journals. Here are some of the achievements attributed to the Russian-era of LJ. In 2007 the platform has been bought out by SUP Media from the former owners – Six part. That's when the new management started thinking about creating sort of a “sample page” of good blog posts, sort of like a newspaper, a magazine or, yes, a journal. This project was actually called LiveJournal.Ru. To clarify: LJ.com remained and still remains the general blog host, whereas LJ.ru is this collection of top posts condensed in an easily-read format to give visitors a preview of new posts and let they easily decide which one they would like to read in depth. Another name was given to LiveJournal.Ru to avoid confusion: Blogosphere's Digest. So if you were wondering – wait, why does a blog platform need an editor-in-chief – well, there's your answer – the editorial staff scours the platform for new posts and uses their best judgment to get a feel of the general vibe of the blogosphere each day – the Digest publishes sort of “theme of the day” compilations – and, of course, chooses some of the more interesting posts on various subjects to go the digest's front page. There's also a user top list, ranked by number of readers and a daily post top-list ranked by the number of views and comments – these lists, of course, are generated automatically and, apart from sometimes being tampered with by bots and such, the lists provide only a selective glimpse into what really is the Russian blogosphere – all the more reasons to have an editorial staff. And now, at the five-year annirsary of this odd blogger-created editor-picked collaboration, the administration decided to do away with LiveJournal.com – meaning that if one would visit this website, they would be directed to the very same Blogosphere's Digest. The new landing page, called “LJ Top”, is part Digest, part Toplist and part User Control Panel – this sort of all-in-one approach signifies efforts of the blog platform management

to stay relevant and to streamline its interface – although this decision seems extremely Russian-centric. Not sure what bloggers from other countries will feel about being greeted by latest news from the Russian blogosphere every time they log in to their blog platform of choice – but then again, this may a conscious decision to pursue target audience with great potential at cost of demographics who are migrating to other services anyway.

In related news, SUP media, owner of Livejournal, is shelling out investments into the platform that just won't give up. $300,000 will go directly to bloggers, bringing the service even closer to a bona-fide magazine – they have an editorial staff, now they'll have writers on the payroll! Although bloggers eligible for the financial infusion to keep them posting have to meet one condition – you know, beside writing interesting posts – they have to be not so well known. And here's the deal – the money bloggers will receive is not cash, but in-house currency, equivalent to the same amount in US dollars. This currency – so-called LJ tokens – can be spent on internal advertisement. The idea is that this project will help attract new readers to good, but overlooked material – and after the token current dries out, hopefully these writers will have a significant new following – by this time they can monetize their blogs any way they want, so, yes, it's not really a rip-off as it may seem at first. Apart from these “fellowships”, I guess, owners of blogs and communities will receive marketing, editorial and PR support from LJ administration itself. To boot, they'll get their very own standalone .ru (.рф?) domain name and free access to paid member services for a whole year. In order who determine will get these wonderful perks LJ is hosting an auction of sorts – bloggers, communities and aspiring bloggers who have no content of their own but do have good ideas can participate in hopes to be one of the select few to shape the future face of Russian mainstream blogging – there are no limits on what subject matter should these blogs contain – within legal limits, of course.

Although some readers, probably of the paranoid disposition, might want to stay away from LiveJournal. An anti-virus company called Dr.Web. has conducted a research, looking into cookies – little files left on your computer by different websites to be later accessed by these or other web services. Basically, these files tell websites what you do online. Well, the website who keeps with most tabs on its visitors is… LiveJournal – not only your info goes to the site itself and advertisers, but also to consulting companies, with clients such as the Politico media group – an organiztions with close ties to the US government. So there you have it. Anyway, if lengthy blog posts is not your cup of tea, you’ll like the following segment.

So, a few days ago Instagram decided that enough is enough and stopped allowing Twitter to receive previews of photos published on all-time-favorite among hipsters and lunch lovers, the micro-social-network for those who believe a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, turns out they did it with a very specific purpose in mind – to attract users to their recently-launched web version. While it’s not Twitter per se, it certainly is… different from the App version. Although, apart from looking at the photos at a big screen or sharing them with friends who aren’t social network users, I don’t really see one getting much use from the web version. If I had to guess, this might be a long-term plan to create an alternative to Twitter. Seeing as how Facebook has acquired Instagram, this would cover their bases on the microblogging market. However, questions of monetization still remain unanswered.

Meanwhile, Twitter didn’t really hold their breath for reconciliation. Oh, boo-hoo, people want to upload photos with tags and mentions? Twitter can do that! No vintage photo filters and basic photo-editing functions? Oh yeah, that’s right… although, not anymore! In a blog post with the title “Twitter photos: Put a filter on it” paying tribute to an cult TV show focusing on hipsters, Portlandia, the company has presented its latest feature December 10th. Now, rumors of this being in the works have

been around for some time, but right now it’s unclear whether such close proximity to Instagram not playing nice is a coincidence or not. Anyway, if you’re a microblogger and a regular shutterbug, “you’ll now be able to edit and refine your photos, right from Twitter. The latest versions of Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android introduce a few new ways to enhance the images you tweet.” Like Instagram, you can crop the photo to compensate for shoddy camerawork – unlike Instagram, you’re not limited by a square shape. It has fewer filters – eight, for now, but you can see the preview of your photos for each filter at the same time, saving you the time to click each one and decide which appeals best. And then there’s the auto-enhance feature, which is supposed to “make your photos pop with balanced light and colors.” And of course, this all holds true for their Android and iOS apps – not for the web client. So, if you have to choose just one weapon of mass distraction – Twitter or Instagram – the choice has just become so much harder.




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