Monday, January 01, 2007

The Contract

So. Um. I went and got myself a LiveJournal.

Which I once swore I’d never do; mostly because I simply couldn’t bothered, but partly because I loathe the circular backslapping and quease-inducing interblog upsuckery that’s rampant across the Internet and for which LiveJournal seems uniquely designed, and which seems to have reached its apotheosis in MySpace, the whole point of which (unless you’re a band) is, as far as I can tell, to collect “friends”—a commodity of great status that’s slightly less useful than, say, pogs.

My feelings on that haven’t changed. Nor has my feeling that some of LiveJournal’s very core concepts are antithetical to the way I want to live my life. Listen:

I interviewed Mena Trott last year, for an article that has yet to run. It didn’t go well. It was nobody’s fault; maybe my phone manner sucked that day; maybe she was tired and cranky owing to the horrendous cold from which she was just recovering; I don’t know. We just didn’t really connect.

I heard her come alive, though, when she started talking about the privacy features of SixApart products; about the granularity of access proposed for what was then called Comet, the ability to cherry-pick groups and subgroups to whom a particular message will be visible; about new and better ways to maintain your cliques and keep your secrets. Better ways to make the Web more like junior high school, basically.

I came out of that interview less interested in LiveJournal than ever.

It’s about self-conception and self-presentation. My understanding of the way I present myself on the Web is that I cannot assume any expectation of privacy. In entering this contract, in accepting this platform upon which to perform myself, I make of myself a quasi-public figure. I exercise my rights, and I assume my responsibilities.

Now. I still have a low tolerance for drama; I still believe in not saying anything online that I wouldn’t want the whole Web reading, or indeed that I wouldn’t say to your face, and in keeping my own counsel when appropriate; and I still believe that content is king, no matter where you find it. And that’s the rub: Content.

There is killer content to be found on LiveJournal, especially in its communities, and there are conversations in which I want to participate. And to do that, I’ve got to get on board. So there I am—provisionally, at least.

For a while I was considering leaving the LiveJournal without entries, simply using it as a placeholder to allow me to participate in commenting and groups, but the social contract instinct kicked in again—I will be posting to the LJ, but it’ll all be material cross-posted with the blog, and all entries will be public.

So there’s that great experiment in social networking.
Now I’m going to go out on a limb and publicly swear I’ll never get a MySpace.

So. Um.

... Friend me?

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