I used LiveJournal for ages – 10, maybe 12 years or so? – but then it seemed that everyone stopped using it. Probably right about when Twitter came along. Twitter is fine, but I still miss doing long-form writing about what I did that day or what I’m thinking.
When I moved to my own server a few years ago I set up my own WordPress installation, migrated my old LiveJournal posts over ((The good thing about having all your writing in one place is it makes backing up all your writing easier. The bad thing about having all your writing in one place is now all your writing is in one place; I looked back on stuff I wrote when I was 18 or 19 and all I can say now is Y-I-K-E-S. Buzz, your old journal posts, woof.)), and I’d blog about something I did recently or what I was feeling that day, but nowhere near how frequently I posted back in the LJ days. Even so I now have 5,477 posts altogether. 5,477! That’s enough for a post a day, every day, for fifteen years. Impressive considering that I started writing in 2001 and that I’ve only done about 80 posts in the last few years since moving away from LiveJournal. I guess you could say I was a bit prolific in my LiveJournal days.
One of the things that I really miss about LiveJournal was subscribing to your friends’ journals and reading them all in a single place via the friends list. Yeah, there’s things like RSS, but not as many people seem to use RSS since Google cancelled Google Reader. ((I myself use Fever now for my self-hosted RSS aggregation needs.)) I also missed being able to lock down posts so just your followers, or a subset of friends, could read your writing, and that not everything you wrote was instantly visible to the whole world. I think that was one reason why I didn’t write on here as much as I hoped to; while I might not be comfortable with having everything I write either visible to the entire world and their intelligence agencies (:P), I also didn’t enjoy locking everything I wrote down for my eyes only, and even though WordPress has an option to password-protect individual posts I didn’t see that as a very good solution for what I wanted.
Anyway, to make a long story short I spent the last few days trying to recreate some of the features I missed from LiveJournal here on my blog, and used some feedback from friends to help drive some of the implementation.
So: reading posts all in one place. RSS is still an option, but not many people still seem to use RSS. Checking this website to see if there’s something new is also an option, but that means remembering to check the website. I looked into setting up an email newsletter, but it sounded like most of my friends have abandoned email – I know I get too much of it – and I couldn’t integrate it seamlessly with the blog or work with post permissions so I scrapped that idea for now, but since I still wanted some way people could be notified when a new post goes up I created a Twitter account @gf_times people can follow for notifications.
As for limiting the audience for my writing, some of my writing will still be publicly available (like this post!), but to read any of the rest you’ll have to register and sign in. Sorry, them’s the breaks. At least I might be encouraged to write more if I know there’s actually an audience interested in what I’m writing, and if I know who my audience is then you have a good chance of me opening up more of my writing to you, so make your username something I’d recognize!
I added a few other features to the site that I wished LiveJournal had and the lack thereof made returning to LJ a nonstarter for me. Things like the site being SSL/TLS encrypted! Well, my site’s been encrypted for a while, but learning how to encrypt my site and getting an A+ Qualys rating is something I’m proud of, and something that absolutely makes sense in an online-journal context. Played around with plugins and I have it so site emails are now PGP-signed (and encrypted, if you put your public key in your profile), and there’s a checkbox to encrypt your comment to me when posting. You can also enable two-factor authentication in your profile if you’d like, too.