My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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On LiveJournal and subcultures

LiveJournal is not a single community – it is a collection of communities. It is not all subcultural, all youth, all anything. Yet, for subcultural populations, LJ plays a very special role. It is for these communities – those who have found a safety net in LJ – that i decided to step back and write a piece for Salon – Turmoil in Blogland. I am not arguing nor do i believe that Six Apart is bad, misguided or clueless. I am fully aware that this sale is quite valuable for many different groups involved. And i’m very well aware that Six Apart (or at least Mena Trott) gets the value of personal communicative blogging. Yet, LJ culture is unique and often chaotic and scary. To nourish this will take a commitment and responsibility that i’m truly hoping Six Apart will embrace. For the subcultural populations on LJ, this decision will be key and it’s important that Six Apart works to learn from these communities before altering the social fabric in any way. For example, for many of us, there’s nothing comforting about pro-Ana communities, yet they’re very present on LJ. Understanding why these communities flourish on LJ says a lot about both the tool and the culture we live in. Efforts to destroy them will be devastating to the individuals and communities involved, even though the behavior seems so self-destructive. The trick is not to be patronizing, but to understand.

So, enjoy the piece. And thank you so much for the ongoing commentary – i’ve learned a lot from the different perspectives people have offered.

PS: to clarify on broader commentary – i identify as a blogger and i blog on four public sites, one private one, and various class ones. I also keep a private LiveJournal although i used to keep a public one. That said, most of the perspective that i’m offering comes from my interviews with bloggers and LJers, not my own personal experiences.

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