Jesus everything about this article is massive nostalgia for me, from FernGully (my journal had a picture of Batty on the front I proudly told everyone I “didn’t trace”) to the lines about “prefacing our subdomains with forward slashes”.
This is the era that I came of Internet Age in. I signed up for LiveJournal in 19991 at the urging of a friend, who found out about it when one of the Cool Kid bloggers we followed linked to hers. My very first post was about not having to attend the school athletics carnival in exchange for vacuuming the house. IIRC, in my post I confessed to not, in fact, having vacuumed the house.
I was always a bit more part of the homebrew scene than the LJ crowd–my blog ran on code I wrote myself until I finally migrated it in circa 2006–but I always had a crossposter, and the one thing I loved on LJ more than anything else was its friends locking ability.2 Yeah, it was a massive drama magnet–people would “leak” flocked posts to wank comms all the time–but it also allowed for a level of intimate self-expression that its modern replacements, the WordPresses and the Twitters and the Tumblrs of the world, don’t.
In some respects, I think LiveJournal, by virtue of being the first social media service, was also the last social media service that was, in its original form, designed for users and not advertisers. Facebook, which had similar by kids-for-kids origins, is the only other major existing service that preserves things like post locking… and its “locking” functionality gets more and more vestigial as the company itself gets more monetized. (If there wasn’t huge pushback from users, I suspect it would be gone altogether.) Every other service is either all-or-nothing.
A lot of things killed (English-language) LiveJournal, but slow uptake on technology, especially as it relates to rich media content and mobile support, was, I think, the main one. Which is a shame. Because there was a trade-off.
Basically, what I’m saying is I think Dreamwidth needs to run a Kickstarter to raise funds to revamp the platform with Tumblr-like features. Best of both worlds? I think so!