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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Last call for UU Blog Award nominees.

I haven't finished making my own nominations for the Unitarian Universalist Blog Awards, but the deadline for nominations is tomorrow. (The pressure!) We've had some good nominations so far, but if we're going to have anything like a full slate of candidates for the various awards, we must pick one of the following approaches: (A) Let Philo the Impartial pick all the remaining candidates — kind of the Nominating Committee approach; or, (B) Let the people speak. I choose B. Speak, people, speak!

Questions my two years of blogging have not answered: Is anyone familiar with the parallel universe of LiveJournal users? Do they think of themselves as "bloggers"? There are dozens if not millions of Unitarian Universalist LiveJournalers — okay, there are 465 — and yet, to the best of my knowledge, we've been thoroughly unable to engage them in the nominations process or to draw them out of their friendship circles or what have you. I know a few of them pick up Philocrites using syndication, so let me appeal to those readers directly: If there are LiveJournals by UUs that deserve broader Unitarian Universalist attention, please nominate them.

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 13 January 2005 at 10:45 PM

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January 14, 2005 10:53 AM | Permalink for this comment

Salon had an article on LiveJournalers and their relationship to bloggers. (Yes, you have to watch an ad to read it, unless you're a salon member.)


January 14, 2005 11:56 AM | Permalink for this comment

CC, thanks for that link! Wow was that helpful to me. Here's the section I found most illuminating:

Even though 2004 has been marked as the Year of the Blog, there is no universal blogging culture nor even a common definition of the term. There are many different cultures within the blogosphere and within LiveJournal -- cultures with different needs, desires, intentions. Yet, at the broadest level, the culture of LiveJournal is distinct from the culture of the blogosphere, even if the actual practice is quite similar: to share that which is most meaningful to you with those who will be interested.

The distinction is often categorized by the terms "amateur journalism" as opposed to "public diarying" -- an unfortunate dichotomy that is awkward and fails to represent most of what bloggers and LJers do. Yet in terms of identification, there is often a split. Most people who use LiveJournal talk about their "LJ," not their "blog."

There is no doubt that Six Apart [the company that makes Movable Type and Typepad and recently purchased LiveJournal] recognizes and values LiveJournal and the community that is embedded in it. At BlogTalk in Vienna, Austria, Mena Trott (the president of Six Apart) began her speech by stating that "I feel strongly -- and have always -- that personal weblogs are often marginalized because of their presumed triviality." She chastised self-identified bloggers for dismissing practices that appeared different from their own. But Trott also recognized cultural differences, noting that her original conception of bloggers reflected those who valued punditry and sought very large audiences to challenge journalism and politics. But through her work on TypePad -- a blogging service hosted by Six Apart -- she realized that there was an extensive population of bloggers who did not have these goals in mind -- they wanted to post only for their friends and family.

It is the intimacy of friends, family and people-like-me that LiveJournal has fostered. When Six Apart bought LiveJournal, it did not simply purchase a tool -- it bought a culture. LJ challenges a lot of assumptions about blogging, and its users have different needs. They typically value communication and identity development over publishing and reaching mass audiences. The culture is a vast array of intimate groups, many of whom want that intimacy preserved. LiveJournal is not a lowbrow version of blogging; it is a practice with different values and needs, focused far more on social solidarity, cultural work and support than the typical blog. It is heavily female, young and resistant. There is no doubt that Six Apart values this, and it should. But at the same time, the act of purchasing someone's house does require responsibility if you want to do right by the tenants, even when those tenants look nothing like any other tenants you have ever seen.

I don't think I grasped the "just among us" quality of the LiveJournal communities, but it really makes sense. Perhaps this explains why the more Christian-identified UUs quickly latched on to "blogging," while neopagan UUs are so prominent among UU LiveJournalers. I'm still wondering where the on-line community of religious humanists is. Is it at Beliefnet?

Eric Posa:

January 14, 2005 10:01 PM | Permalink for this comment

Philocrites points out the theological difference to be found between UUs on "LJ" -v- UUs with "blogs." Good point, but I think LJ has an even stronger defining demographic element to its culture--age. The median age of a LiveJournal writer is 18. At the risk of reviving the "ConCon: The Movie" debate, I see LJ as dominated by teens, which could explain the cultural difference.

Then again, I used to use LiveJournal (very sporadically), and have now switched to Xanga. FWIW, I'm 33 years old, and a Christian UU.

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