A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘blogging

[LINK] “U.S. Company [Livejournal] Helps Russia Block Prominent Putin Critic”

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Sisi Wei’s ProPublica article from last month noting how Livejournal has blocked access to Alexei Navalny‘s Livejournal blog inside Russia makes unsurprising use. It does represent many fears, legitimate or otherwise, of Livejournal users of undue Russian influence on the site.

The company, LiveJournal, shows an error message to users inside Russia who try to read a blog maintained by prominent activist and politician Alexei Navalny, a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Navalny uses the service to post about Putin, the Russian government and politics. Users in other countries can read Navalny’s blog without seeing the error message.

[. . .]

An early social media pioneer, LiveJournal was once popular in the United States but is now dwarfed by sites like Tumblr and WordPress. The site does retain a smaller, dedicated following among Americans users, including George R.R. Martin, author of A Game of Thrones, who regularly posts on his LiveJournal blog. In Russia, LiveJournal is the most popular blogging platform – so popular, in fact, that the Russian name for LiveJournal has become synonymous with “blogging.”

LiveJournal has a history of being blocked by Russian authorities, and may be self-censoring to minimize the parts of their site that are unavailable inside Russia. The entire service was blocked in parts of Russia at least twice as a result of regional court decisions meant to block individual users. On March 13 of this year, Navalny’s blog, along with three Russian news sites, were officially ordered to be blocked by Russia’s telecom agency at the request of Russia’s Prosecutor General.

When it was blocked by the government, users inside some Russian cities trying to visit the banned LiveJournal site would have seen an error message from their Internet provider, saying that the page was not accessible.

But in the current case, the error message appears to come from LiveJournal itself, at a LiveJournal URL and on a page that includes the company’s logo and design. The error reads, “The page is blocked due to the decision of authorities in your area.” The error message is in English, though Navalny’s blog is in Russian. Attempts to reach Navalny’s blog from a U.S. Internet connection were successful.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 1, 2014 at 10:52 pm

[LINK] “instead of chasing Ello, why not push LJ?”

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I’m planning on posting an extended look at Ello later this week. I’m on there and I find the site interesting, but I’ll reserve judgement. Meanwhile fengi‘s post suggesting that Livejournal fills a niche is worth noting. Livejournal’s ongoing efforts to reestablish itself in the non-Russian blogosphere might come to fruition. Or, they might not: as one ex-Livejournaler noted on Facebook when I shared the link, people left LJ for a reason.

It has the features ello testers and disgruntled Facebook users want now. After 15 years of experience, it has slowly learned from drama and errors. It survived the original dot bust and seems ready for the next one.

The free-to-paid membership model has provided ad-free, adult-friendly options for a decade plus, something earnest manifestos usually don’t (see tumblr’s broken promise).

So why deal with more inflated startup promises and fumbling? Say goodbye to Facebook and hello to Livejournal — a customizable global social network that doesn’t require real names and provides an easy, logical way to avoid ads. [Forgive me for the infomercial language.]

As a longtime user and occasionally harsh critic, I think LJ is flawed but less adversarial and predatory towards users than Facebook, Google and others. Yes, it has an “old meme” image and notorious past service dramas, but in the long term it’s become a solid product.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 1, 2014 at 10:47 pm

[DM] Still here!

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I’ve a brief post up at Demography Matters mentioning that the blog is still active and soliciting readership requests as to what subjects they’d like the blog to cover.

Thoughts, as always, are welcome.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 23, 2014 at 3:54 am

[BRIEF NOTE] On Livejournal becoming many things, hopefully doing at least one of them well

On Saturday, James Nicoll–ruling blogger of English-language Livejournal–linked to a new video advertisement on YouTube for Livejournal.

In it, an anonymous narrator suggested that Livejournal would meet the needs of people who would like to write at length in anonymity, to shed the public identities of Facebook and the like for something pseudonymous, even anonymous.

I said in the comments of that YouTube video that I wished Livejournal had done it before now. Visiting that page again, I see that it recorded only 647 views. That’s up a few hundred since the first time I saw the video, but still. The commenter at James’ blog who suggests the whole thing is moot until the people who left Livejournal for Facebook come back is entirely right.

I mentioned in May that Livejournal was also being positioned as a competitor to Medium, as a host for long-format writing. This new use is not incompatible with that previously-stated use, yet I have to wonder. Does Livejournal know what it is doing? Or is it desperately casting about for something that can keep it going in the English-speaking world?

Written by Randy McDonald

September 15, 2014 at 11:04 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO wonders, in the aftermath of companies confiscating bicycles parked on city property, if Toronto should clearly mark off public and private space on its streets.
  • Centauri Dreams studies news that the Stardust probe may have captured bits of the interstellar medium.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports that sun-like Alpha Centauri A and B can both support planets in stable Earth-like orbits.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the impact of changing patterns of snowfall on Arctic ice.
  • Eastern Approaches studies Balkan volunteers in wars abroad, both that of Albanians in the Middle East and of Serbs for Russia in Ukraine.
  • Far Outliers looks at Japan’s farmer-soldiers on the late 19th century Hokkaido frontier.
  • Spacing Toronto favourably reviews the new psychogeography-themed book Unruly Places.
  • Understanding Society points to the massive success of a comparative statistical analysis of historical Eurasian populations.
  • Window on Eurasia links to a photo essay of an empty post-Olympics Sochi.
  • Writing Through the Fog’s Cheri Lucas Rowlands argues that modern social media hinders memoir writing, by making it too easy to publish quickly.
  • Wonkman points out that the problem with subtle homoeroticism in modern popular culture is that, well, it doesn’t need to be subtle any more. What needs to be hidden?

[BLOG] Some politics-related links

  • 3 Quarks Daily links to an essayist wondering why people talked about Gaza not the Yezidis as a way to dismiss Gaza.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly notes how Americans subsidize Walmart’s low wages by givibng its employees benefits.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Chinese plans to reforest Tibet could accelerate the dessication of its watershed since trees suck up water, observes the existence of a new Chinese ICBM and links to a report of a Chinese drone, notes that the ecologies of Europe are especially vulnerable to global warming owing to their physical fragmentation, and notes that Canadian-Mexican relations aren’t very friendly.
  • Eastern Approaches notes Russia’s reaction to the shootdown of the MH17 flight over eastern Ukraine and observes the issues with Poland’s coal industry.
  • Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis calls for American military intervention to protect the Yezidis from genocide.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the plight of the Yezidi, examines the undermining of liberal Zionism, wonders how Russian relations with Southeast Asia will evolve, and after noting the sympathy of some Americans on the left for Russia analyses the consequences of a Russian-Ukrainian war.
  • Marginal Revolution wonders if Russia’s food import ban is a sign of a shift to a cold war mentality, notes the collapse of the Ukrainian economy, wonders about the strategy of Hamas, and comments on the weakness of the economy of Ghana.
  • The New APPS Blog comments on the implications of the firing of American academic Steven Salaita for his blog posts.
  • The Pagan Prattle looks at allegations of extensive coverups of pedophilia in the United Kingdom.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw notes the decreasing dynamism of the ageing Australia economy.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer doesn’t think there’s much of a crisis in Argentina following the debt default, notes ridiculous American efforts to undermine Cuba that just hurt Cubans, examines implications of energy reform and property rights in Mexico, has a good strategy shared with other for dealing with the Islamic State.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little contends with Tyler Cowen’s arguments about changing global inequality, and studies the use of mechanisms in international relations theory.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy touches upon Palestine’s case at the ICC against Israel, looks at Argentina’s debt default, and wonders if Internet domain names are property.
  • Window on Eurasia has a huge set of links, pointing to the rivalry of Russian Jewish organizations in newly-acquired Crimea, looking at Ukrainian ethnic issues in Russia, suggests that the Donbas war is alienating many Ukrainians in the east from Russia, notes Islamization in Central Asia, suggests that Russia under sanctions could become as isolated as the former SOviet Union, suggests Ukrainian refugees are being settled in non-Russian republics, wonders if Ukraine and Georgia and Moldova will join Turkey as being perennial EU candidates, suggests that Belarusians are divided and claims that Belarusian national identity is challenging Russian influence, looks at the spread of Ukrainian nationalism among Russophones, looks at the consequences of Kurdish independence for the South Caucasus, and notes that one-tenth of young Russians are from the North Caucasus or descend from the region.

[FORUM] What do you think of online rating systems?

Two weeks ago, there was an article at Toronto Life, “Why Momofuku’s David Chang thinks Yelp reviews are dumb”, that caught my attention.

David Chang knows his fast food, so it makes sense that he’s signed on as the official Northeastern U.S. “burrito scout” for ESPN blog FiveThirtyEight, which is currently conducting a rigorous, March Madness–style search for the country’s top burrito (and, in the process, examining the relative reliability of crowdsourced recommendations versus other sources of data). Chang recently spoke with the site about his personal views on user-generated restaurant reviews, particularly those on Yelp. To put it concisely, he’s not a fan. Here’s what he had to say:

I’m just going to come out and say: Most of the Yelp reviews are wrong. They just are. Yelp is great for finding information if you forgot the address of a place. [...] But for the most part, no chef is going to take a Yelper’s review seriously, even though they might read them.

The problem with Yelpers, according to Chang? They take everything way too personally, and usually don’t know what they’re talking about.

The best analogy I can give is fantasy sports or lawn-chair stockbrokers. For the most part, unless you’re really studying the stats and you’re a former football player or baseball player and know the industry inside and out, it’s most likely that your insights aren’t that great.

My reaction, as expressed in the comments, was critical. Chang’s argument leaves no space for well-informed amateur critiques, or for informed readers, and additionally seems to verge on making the fallacious argument that everyone is making one-star reviews based on a single thing that doesn’t work for them.

What say you all?

Written by Randy McDonald

June 23, 2014 at 4:00 am

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