Catherine Driscoll initiates an interesting discussion about blogs, journals, and the software that produces them (TypePad vs. LiveJournal, for instance):
The next thing I thought was how clearly online journals can be distinguished between "blogs" and "journals". On livejournal there are a range of elements that privatise what is written there. "Blogs" are about names and authors, journals are often anonymous and always framed by the network of linked journals even when they claim some specialised authority, and they very often do produce more personal or private discourses on the self and the community. They are not a "public sphere" in the same way as blogs, and that's not only about friends lists and filtering, and the image of being low-tech and thus less professionalised, but also about content. Still, I can write an academic livejournal entry, but it will be responded to in overwhelmingly personal terms.
I think it's inescapable that there's a gendered distinction here. Blogs - social commentary journals organised under an Author - are mostly written by men and mostly linked to by men ... while livejournal, as the pre-eminent example of an open-source hub of online journals, seems clearly dominated by women. One of the other audience members noted that bloggers often have a personal anonymous LJ, and certainly I know several examples of that. Is that all about authority vs community? I'd like to think it didn't fall back into that cliche, but maybe it does.
This is a blog. People can leave comments, but no one else can start a conversation. The guiding intelligence behind the project is Steven Rubio. I've always known this ... it's been a long-lasting fantasy of mine to have a regular column with regular readers, and blogging allows for that on a v.small scale, with the added bonus that I don't actually have to proactively seek out a job or anything like that. When I write something here, I'm thinking of myself as a version of Jon Carroll ... some personal stuff, some cultural critique, the occasional political commentary, along with excerpts from other stuff that catches my eye. I don't think of it as a community project, though.
What interests me in particular about Catherine's post (and the subsequent discussion in her comments section) is the way she tries to distinguish between LiveJournal and other blogging software. I've never gotten this distinction in the past ... to me, it's all just different methods for getting your stuff online ... and friends of mine with livejournals have tried in the past to help me understand, but I haven't unplugged my brain enough to get it. Something in the way Catherine describes it finally got through to me, though. If nothing else, the capability in LiveJournal to filter out your readership seems v.important, and directs me towards a fuller appreciation for the ways LiveJournal does indeed do a better job of fostering a community than more standard blogging software.