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I've been doing a little (very little...) coding over the last couple of weeks for Dreamwidth, which went into closed beta at the weekend. (Which was/is very exciting!).

It's a code fork of Livejournal, but they're taking the opportunity afforded by starting up anew to rip out large chunks of code by the roots & rewrite things *better*. The biggest example (for me, anyway) of this being the replacement of the friends system by a system which explicitly separates "people I want to be able to read my stuff" from "people I want to read". For me, that's pretty much the Killer App right there. The increase on the comment limits from 4,300 char to 16,000 (there's a similar post size limit increase, but I've never hit the post limit so that bothers me, personally, less :) ) is also shiny. Plus: no ads. And one of the owners (synecdochic) has discussed at length why ads on social content sites Do Not Work, financially speaking, so I believe that they actually mean this.

The meta-things that I'm impressed with:

- a commitment to openness (of business practices and site-running) and consultation that I believe in. Possibly in part because I've been involved with and/or witnessed discussions about proposals or ideas that have resulted in decisions being changed :)

- a diversity statement that doesn't read like corporate bullshit.

- the business plan is along the lines of "small, stable, functioning, ongoing business" rather than "let's flog it in due course & bathe in web2.0 cash". An interesting post on the subject of business aims & so forth.

So, yeah. I shan't be moving off LJ altogether unless/until various things change[0], but I'm certainly going to be doing a certain amount of moving across. I gather there is a crossposting tool, for starters. I'm very fond of LJ, but only in the sense of being fond of the things it enables me to do. DW feels like a project I can be fond of in a more specific sense, and I like that.

[0] The real Killer App would of course be full interoperability - i.e. being able to read one's LJ friends-list, even locked posts, on DW via OpenID. This is a Difficult Technical Problem for which there is at present no decent fix, but it is being contemplated. Full import of your own LJ will be in place before open beta; OpenID already allows cross-site reading & commenting on non-FL posts.



Feb. 16th, 2009 01:05 pm (UTC)
that link I posted above has a fairly succinct summary of why it's difficult: the main problem is one of sheer volume. (doing it the obvious way, i.e. prodding the remote site every time the local user hits refresh, will lead very rapidly to being banned by the remote site due to overload).

(In case it wasn't clear: yes, it will do openID - you can already log into the closed beta using openID to make comments. But that's only half the problem - it's the FL posts thing that is the real issue.)
Feb. 16th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC)
Of course -- polling would be a huge issue. I can see there's a big problem in getting the different identities to interoperate properly -- especially when it's not (or at least not clearly) in the interest of (say) Facebook or LJ to allow such access.
Feb. 16th, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
I think getting federation popular once the technical problems are solved might not be that hard. SUP is unpopular, LJ is unpopular, a lot of the fan people maintain lots of IDs on LJ clone sites, with attendant aggravation. Getting buy-in amongst the LJ diaspora should be easy - sites that permit it will become more popular.

Of course Facebook will never do anything to co-operate, but the challenges involved in just working out a common data model between FB and LJ would be hard enough...
Feb. 16th, 2009 01:30 pm (UTC)
Hmm... Getting buy-in amongst the LJ diaspora should be easy - sites that permit it will become more popular.

I think this requires a certain critical mass. At the moment few people use Open ID and for a profit focused entity like LJ there's no pressure to allow it -- indeed there's probably the counter pressure "if we allow this people will leave LJ faster" because it enables people to host their journals and read other journals from different sites. Beyond a certain point the pressure would be the other way "if we do not allow this people will leave LJ faster"... that's my thought anyway.

Facebook's incentives to co-operate or not are surely the same as LJs it's just that they are more in the ascendant right now. Such things change though.
Feb. 16th, 2009 01:41 pm (UTC)
I guess I see LJ and FB as different because I perceive that the LJ user base as rather more pissed-off-and-ready-to-leave.

I could very easily be wrong on that.
Feb. 16th, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC)
Ah... perhaps that is a factor of your social circle? I don't think I know anyone leaving specifically because they are pissed off with LJ but there is a gradual drift to Facebook. It seems to be a "pull" to Facebook not a "push" from LJ in my friends group though.

In my experience internet technologies have a very short half life! There's a transition from "have you seen this cool new thing, usenet news" to "how come nobody posts any more". I'd guess it's an average of around ten years for a very successful social networking tool to move from "cool new thing" to "legacy system". I'm thinking here of BBS (various local/campus based and international), usenet news, LJ.
Feb. 16th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
See, I tend to think that it's the other way around - LJ (at least *this* LJ - the clone sites it may work differently) has an incentive *not* to solve the cross-site-auth-RSS problem, because it gives them some level of lockin.

I very much doubt that I'm the only person who would up sticks & depart from LJ altogether (once there's an alternative I can live with), *if* that wouldn't mean that I wouldn't be able to read other people's locked posts any more. So if LJ cooperates with other sites getting at FL content, they lose users.

Having said which: I'm not actually sure how LJ's business model works any more (free users & ads vs paid users). I gather that it works *totally* differently in Russia from, um, everywhere else, and that they're increasingly more interested in the Russian side of things. So that might increase the likelihood of co-operation.

*Providing* an OpenID login from your own site, and allowing other people to use their OpenID from elsewhere to do stuff on your site, that's certainly a popularity issue. But basically everyone does that bit already.
Feb. 16th, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, sure. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I would have a lot more motivation to move from LJ to federating-LJ-successor than just to LJ-successor - since I don't have to wait for all my friends to come to the same place as me, it's enough that they leave.

I suspect that if DJ/IJ/GJ etc. had all been federating with each other for the last few years without LJ, LJ would already be dead outside .ru.

But this definitely comes under the heading of Great Imponderables...
Feb. 17th, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC)
Oh, right, am with you now. Yeah, that's a more plausible thing to happen, and might well be an incentive for other clone sites to cooperate with an openID extension as ciphergoth suggests.
Feb. 16th, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
I think the Right Thing is to propose and implement a new protocol for efficient blog federation a la the "Make it DW-only and customizable" proposal on that page.

OpenID is pretty specific to users sitting at browsers - Step One would be designing an OpenID-like protocol for sites to authenticate to each other, which wouldn't be that hard.

Then you create a user list on the remote site, authenticating that you represent all the users in that list, and then your query is "what's new since this date for that list?". To make it more efficient, the query hangs if nothing is new, so you don't have to poll, you can get updates as they happen. The information you're given must tell you which of the users on the list should see each item.

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