?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Frank The Goat Speaks Truth To Power

Back when I was interviewing LJ users for my little project I called talk_show, one of my interviewees was a guy named Ryan Estrada. He had just started drawing his "Frank the Goat" comic at that time, which was gaining popularity. Frank the Goat, if you didn't know, was the long time mascot of LiveJournal so having a comic based on the character was both a natural fit and a boon to both the site and the artist.

When the site was bought outright by the Russians, in the wake of the SixApart debacle, Estrada discontinued his comic, and I presume, like many, left the site. But more recently he came back and posted a new comic speaking directly to the issues of freedom of speech, of rights for LGBTQ members and supporters and of why a so-called long form blogging site has rules in place that do not permit opinions of specific sorts.

Thanks to tamar for calling my attention to this, even though it occurred in July, so a full season ago. Still, it's a topical take on what's happening around here and is worthy of consideration as we continue to move forward on a platform that feels like a raft made of very thick cardboard on a very troubled sea.

The article about Ryan's action is posted HERE, but here's the comic.



For the record, the comic above is still available on the frankthecomic account.


And if you want to go more in depth about this, there's the website listed at the bottom of the comic:

https://gimletmedia.com/episode/100-friends-blasphemers/

That allows you the choice of listening to a podcast or just reading the transcript to delve more deeply into this topic. Just to give you an overview of what this podcast/transcript is: they go into more detail about how Russia was angry about the criticism of their government by their own citizenry and by some in the west and how they actively sought to shut down the criticism by buying LiveJournal. It's a fascinating report and one that will send you reeling if you didn't know the details.

Still, for my sense about it, the facts are pretty clear: there is no "western" division of LiveJournal. Previously, there was a board that worked in concert with the Russian element. That hasn't been true in years, as far as I can tell, possibly dating back as far as when other talk_show interviewee marta, who acted as a liaison between the Non Cyrillic and Cyrillic sides, left her position with LJ, about 2011 or 12.

That all leads us to the inevitable questions: "what does it mean?" and "what does it matter?"

For the first question, keep in mind, if the folks running the Russian servers of LJ are determined to disallow us from making certain kinds of statements, they can. We signed their ToS and they have every right to shut us down without any notice and without any recourse. You have to know and understand that when you're examining this situation. Will they shut us down? It's unlikely, because they have other things far more important than the blog entries of some westerners that probably have nothing to do with them. But we know that when it came to the dissidents within their homeland, they definitely cracked down on those posts and perhaps used LJ as a method of locating the people responsible to bring them to "justice." We don't know all the details because we never will.

This, to me, is why I feel unsafe remaining on LiveJournal. No western influence, Russian servers and a proven track record of abuse based on their standards. Will everything remain the same? It might, but we can't, with any kind of certainty, say yes.

To the second question, the most accurate answer I can muster is it depends on what you're willing to accept. We have a documented record of what has already taken place. To simply ignore that record and continue as if nothing has happened? That seems very shortsighted.

Based on what we know about the history of how Russia views LiveJournal, we know two things:

1. The Russians will never let LiveJournal out of their control.

They see LJ as a potential threat to their power and will not release it to some other entity at any time. They worked very hard to get LJ and to prevent people from using it as a platform to air their grievances against the Russian government. There is no price that would permit anyone from buying it back now. LiveJournal, now and forever, is a Russian entity.

2. The Russians could literally pull the plug on LJ at any moment.

Granted, it doesn't seem imminent, nor is it likely to be, but there is nothing that states that, just as they arbitrarily threw up that ToS for all of us westerners to sign ten months ago, they won't just shut down and destroy LiveJournal if some Russian government figure thinks that would be the best choice.

I'm trying to envision a scenario where it makes sense to remain on LiveJournal, knowing these facts. If you think of any, let me know.

Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
xo_kizzy_xo
Oct. 11th, 2017 11:25 am (UTC)
The biggest reason for remaining here is because this is still where people migrate. We talked about this in Idol, remember? DW is an archive. I figure the only way I'll ever write there regularly is if (I refuse to say when) they permanently close down LJ.

Have you ever heard of the BBC series Archangel? It's on Amazon Prime. It's very interesting, given what's happening re Russia right now. It's only three episodes but they're so jam packed with everything that that makes a good story that it leaves you reeling at the end.

penpusher
Oct. 11th, 2017 11:47 am (UTC)
The biggest reason for remaining here is because this is still where people migrate. We talked about this in Idol, remember? DW is an archive. I figure the only way I'll ever write there regularly is if (I refuse to say when) they permanently close down LJ.

So, basically, nothing in this post has given you pause? No comment I made here even made you blink about putting your info on LiveJournal? There is no element here that concerns you, even slightly?

I talked about this in Idol, remember? I stated if people simply leave LJ and move to Dreamwidth, it would (could?) become a community and not just an archive.

This is Russian property now. That is a fact. Continuing to stay here just because other people are here, knowing what you know about this service is, quite simply, denial.

Do we know what's happening secretly to our accounts? Can we say, with any level of certainty, that our information is not being examined by a foreign government (or maybe that should be phrased differently - as WE are the foreigners in this scenario).

Under these specific conditions, can you think of a reason, any reason (besides "this is still where people migrate" - even if they aren't fully cognizant of the above, and many aren't) to remain on LiveJournal? That's still my question and I'm still looking for an answer.
xo_kizzy_xo
Oct. 11th, 2017 12:10 pm (UTC)
I read your post. You can't make your point any clearer than you already have.

I share the sentiment of who's left on my FL here that what I post here is of little to no interest to the Russians. I'm not a political dissident, I don't talk about sexual politics, I don't post anything that would ping me on their radar. I mean, if they're fascinated with my foot saga, more power to them, LOL, but they've got other things they consider more important to monitor than the daily blitherings of a 50-something American woman who likes to write.

Does this mean I'm in denial? Hell no. I know they're here. They know I'm here. They don't bother me. I don't bother them. Kind of like our neighborhood coyotes, actually.

I have been asked, though, by LGBTQ friends why I'm still here. Again, if they consider my being here as a sign of not supporting them...I don't know what to say because I DO support them and always have. This is where I write. Moreover, this is where there is still audience, which is biggest difference between posting here and on DW.

penpusher
Oct. 11th, 2017 02:59 pm (UTC)
This is where I write. Moreover, this is where there is still audience, which is biggest difference between posting here and on DW.

Well, the Dance Band on the Titanic had an audience too.

It's painfully apparent you have made your choice, so it's sorta pointless for us to go back and forth. You have decided that the two questions I proposed are of no import to you. I'm not arguing. That's a legitimate choice for you.

But there are people here, or actually are no longer here, that don't agree with that way of thinking. Some of them used the nuclear option for deleting their LJ accounts back with that new ToS came into play. And that's an equally legitimate response.

Again, I'm looking for a reason to stay, beyond the fact that "this is home." Let's be clear: This is not home. Not anymore. And I don't understand the complacent response of "nobody cares about what I write" as some sort of justification for any of this. I covered that element.

I'm reminded of some of the people who left LiveJournal back in 2003 or 4, during its heyday, to write a blog on their own sites, or who left for another service, like blogger or WordPress. At the time, I thought they were crazy for leaving because there were so many more people on this site. But they obviously left because there was something more important to them than just numbers. Yes, they had friendships with some of their readers, but they decided that what LJ was to them wasn't worth continuing here. They made that move despite enormous traffic to this site. Now, that was a difficult decision.

If we had no alternatives, I might agree that your position has some merit as a reason to stay for those of us who are still active here. But DW is there. It's literally right there! Yes, moving is one of life's great traumas. But if you know your house is on fire, if you know that some of your friends don't want you to be there any more, if you know you have a service that does the same stuff without the potential red tape and red surveillance?

I suppose some people just don't have the stomach for starting over. Creatures of habit. I totally get it. Especially those that have been around for a decade or more. You are among the rank and file.

FWIW, I don't think LiveJournal will ever be taken down. As long as the Russian government feels they are getting more from it than they are being harmed by it, it will remain, because it can be utilized as a tool for whatever purpose they see fit.

If I were trying to convince you to go, the questions I would ask are: how many people do you have reading here? Is it possible that they all could shift over to DW? If not, how many would?

But I'm not trying to convince you to go. I understand you don't believe you can gain any new followers, so the only result of moving will be to lose readers. So, that's a net loss and a justification for not moving. But if that were the only way to view this circumstance, this wouldn't be a discussion. Again, not trying to convince you, since that's off the table.

If you have any other thoughts that we haven't broached yet, please do let me know. I'm still open to listening and looking.
xo_kizzy_xo
Oct. 11th, 2017 04:52 pm (UTC)
I suppose some people just don't have the stomach for starting over. Creatures of habit. I totally get it. Especially those that have been around for a decade or more. You are among the rank and file.

You fall into this category too. And...well, yeah. Some of my longtime LJ friends want nothing to do with DW because it's not LJ. It's the human condition, especially when you've been in one place for a very long time. You already know how things work, for one. It's the reason why my mother never wanted to sell our house even though it was (and still is) too big for two people. It's the reason why people are generally loathe to change jobs.

I have nothing against DW. If LJ, god forbid, closed shop, I'm betting those of us still active here would flee to there. That's what DW's always been, a refuge. People don't seek refuge unless there's an overt reason to seek it. Since LJ is still standing...well, there you go.

I think bleodswean mentions many salient points downthread :points:
penpusher
Oct. 11th, 2017 05:30 pm (UTC)
My finger is on the nuclear button. I'm not as attached as you may think.
bleodswean
Oct. 11th, 2017 04:25 pm (UTC)
I suppose, the most important question, in my opinion, is what does windmill tilting achieve? In the end? Everything you've outlined here has been said again and again and again. Even back in "the good ole days" when servers were being moved around stateside. Everyone seems to want to be outraged about something and yet I never personally saw any deletions or censorships of any of the thousands of journals I've followed over the past thirteen years. I truly don't think Russia cares about any of the blogging we're doing at all. Their agenda is about something we don't understand.

I realize there has been an exodus and where are those folks now? I've come to a place where I've decided that those "protests" weren't about LJ as much as they were about folks wanting something shiny and new - Myspace, Twitter, Instagram, FaceBook, Tumblr. The real work is in staying and making things happen in a place that's gotten a bit dusty and grimy. I mean, isn't this obvious? Your own argument for embracing DW would make it seem so. If folks want to protest-quit LJ, then wouldn't they be over at DW? They aren't. And they really never ever were.

We just need to wait for the next word-based platform. And it's not going to be easy because it may not materialize for some long time. FB has a stranglehold on how a majority of online denizens want to interact. Everything has been sifted and sifted down to finer and finer grains and there really isn't a holistic service out there at the moment.

I'm here but Photobucket is making it less fun. I'm going to investigate some other photo sharing options this week.
xo_kizzy_xo
Oct. 11th, 2017 05:00 pm (UTC)
I realize there has been an exodus and where are those folks now? I've come to a place where I've decided that those "protests" weren't about LJ as much as they were about folks wanting something shiny and new - Myspace, Twitter, Instagram, FaceBook, Tumblr.

Hence being told "LJ is a dinosaur" by a couple of my nieces and Extended Family Daughter, all of whom are in their 20s and think long-form blogging is, at best, an amusing relic. To which I just nod and smile because I'll be damned if they know I'm here.

I have several old LJ friends who have managed to adapt Facebook and Instagram as their LJ of sorts. It requires a lot of planning and filters, though, as those places always want you to share everything down to your blood type. The other option is, as another old LJ friend did, is to no longer make anything personal. This friend is still blogging, but her blogs now center around pop culture as does her podcast. She's gained a lot of followers on Tumblr. It's kind of funny because she's definitely one of the older ones there.

penpusher
Oct. 11th, 2017 05:25 pm (UTC)
Let's look at the full landscape here. Oh, wait. We can't, and that's part of the problem. We'll come back to that.

We know why the Russians wanted to acquire LiveJournal. They wanted to stop criticism of their government, most especially by their own citizens and citizens of neighboring countries. They more or less accomplished their goal.

Now, they're sitting on LJ and doing... what? We don't know. And anything you say you "know" about what's going on with LiveJournal is, quite honestly, conjecture on your part. We have no western contacts. There is no support system for this platform outside of the Moscow influence, no contacts we can reach, no help on our side. This is a very different scenario from moving servers to other parts of the US.

The point of the matter is twofold. 1. Russia owns this platform now, so the circumstances are unclear about what they intend. After all, we're only now learning just how deeply they delved into Facebook. But also 2. it's not whether you've personally seen deletions or censorship here (that likely would have been in Russian anyhow so I'm not sure those were any of the thousands of journals you followed). For the record, I had several Russian journals on my friendslist during the time when there was still the "separate" East/West element. All of those journals are now gone. Point being, these things aren't always visible to everyone.

As an aside, part of the interest in Facebook was the fact that so many Americans have accounts and are actively on FB, where that simply isn't the case with LJ. It's a low priority target, and Russia wants to keep it that way, or they clearly would, if we were playing Putin's Advocate. Unless they had some bigger plan in mind and you start seeing commercials for LiveJournal on TV or online. That would be curious.

This isn't a question of "what's new?" This isn't about waiting for a new word-based platform, because, if you read xo_kizzy_xo's commentary, she wouldn't leave even if there were. She is going to stay on LJ until it is gone and there are a number of others who feel just the same.

No. This is stating that the platform we're on has some serious problems that we know about and likely has other potentially more serious problems that are intentionally being kept from us, and we still want to keep our heads in the sand about it.

You're talking about making things happen in a place that's gotten a bit dusty and grimy. But, there is no work to be done in that way because we have no contacts. There isn't going to be any promotion for LiveJournal, ever. That would run counter to what the Russians would want. There isn't going to be an influx of users, definitely not from the East and just as unlikely from the west. Your arguments are overlooking the crux of the problem.

Imagine you came home and there was a well dressed Russian person standing in every room. They don't say anything. They don't do anything. Or, they might open your refrigerator door. Fold your laundry. That's helpful, right?

We don't know. That's what I mean about not being able to look at the full landscape. It's perfectly fine to think that this change really has no effect. But you don't have proof that it has no effect. And the fact that you can't even name, let alone contact someone in charge of LJ to get proof is, in fact, proof that it has created a negative effect.

I'm hearing the sound of people stating that there is no reason to leave. I already disagree with that statement for the reasons I cited. I haven't heard any argument to convince me that I'm wrong, and more, I haven't heard any argument that suggests that LiveJournal is worth fighting for at this point, which may suggest that you aren't that enthusiastic about staying, either.

Of course, it's all just my opinion. I could be wrong.
bleodswean
Oct. 11th, 2017 05:39 pm (UTC)
Your opinion is absolutely valid and, for the most part, imo, accurate. But it sounds like windmill tilting to me, at this point.

I don't fear Russians. I don't think the Russian buy-out has a thing to do with us or our blogs. But yes, they could pull the plug at any moment and that would be it. A decision made for us.

But here's the more practical questions - of those who marched away, where are they? Did they maintain their "status" on their new platforms? Not on DW, they didn't. Not on FB. Maybe on Tumblr. But all of that sturm and drang and for what end? A betterment? No. And so, I maintain that it's easy to stomp away when you already want to leave.

I do think LJ is over. Passé, whatever. It's just a small handful of us now. But for me, right now, it's fulfilling whatever current desire I have to maintain a contact with others. It's my only social platform for doing so, and I do have a flist with hardcores on it, so there is conversation.
penpusher
Oct. 11th, 2017 05:51 pm (UTC)
Apples and Oranges. You are asking me where are the people who left LiveJournal previously. That has nothing to do with this circumstance which you are choosing to view as business as usual and I am suggesting is anything but.

If maintaining status is your main concern and focus, we're having two different conversations. I'm suggesting that anyone who is active on LiveJournal would be better served on a different platform because of the issues raised. And, guess what? We have one that is all set up to go. And the response is, that's not here. Or nobody is over there.

I maintain that it's easy to be a sit and do nothing when you have no intention of leaving.

So, there's no way your hardcores and you would walk across the street to DW? I guess that's a rhetorical.
xo_kizzy_xo
Oct. 11th, 2017 06:41 pm (UTC)
So, let me ask you this: if you're beating the DW drum, then why haven't you migrated there?
penpusher
Oct. 11th, 2017 06:53 pm (UTC)
Asked and answered. I stated in order for this process to actually work, we need to treat LJ as if it no longer exists (and, if we're being honest, the LJ of old has been gone for a very long time), and then move to DW, collectively.

And I have friends here who are essentially anchoring LJ because of their similar disinterest in moving. I've been looking for reasons to remain onboard, reasons I could believe in. But there really are no answers. None that I have seen, anyhow.

Perhaps my writing needs to focus in a new way and possibly in a new purpose. Then you won't have to deal with such missives.
xo_kizzy_xo
Oct. 11th, 2017 05:53 pm (UTC)
I don't fear Russians. I don't think the Russian buy-out has a thing to do with us or our blogs. But yes, they could pull the plug at any moment and that would be it. A decision made for us.

Yep :nodding:

...I maintain that it's easy to stomp away when you already want to leave.

Goes right back to the "shiny and new" theory. Most of my friends who've left here are all on FB. Some of them are also on Instagram. I have one very active friend AFAIK blogging on Tumblr as well as running a podcast. Those who still feel the need to post LJ-like posts do so on FB under a filter. Or they have a secret group which is heavily filtered and tilted toward those who would read such a post...such as former LJers.

But for me, right now, it's fulfilling whatever current desire I have to maintain a contact with others. It's my only social platform for doing so, and I do have a flist with hardcores on it, so there is conversation.

Same here. The number is much smaller now and not everybody posts every single day, but there are still enough people around to encourage conversation.




penpusher
Oct. 11th, 2017 06:58 pm (UTC)
Both bleodswean and you are somewhat exceptions, you have an island of what you want on LJ. You have enough of a variety of friends who post enough times for your tastes and are content with that element of the experience. You don't want to change that because you are happy with how things are, which is the issue for you.

I wanted to salvage the folks who were still here, especially those on my friendslist to move, but I guess I need to be the example. If I blew up my LJ, then people would understand I was being serious. That's what I'm examining now.
bleodswean
Oct. 11th, 2017 08:06 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, I think that's the only way you can telegraph how seriously you feel about this. You can always come back here, you know, under a new name!
halfshellvenus
Oct. 11th, 2017 09:13 pm (UTC)
I think we know that you're serious, but I, at least, have had enough experience of other people moving to DW to see how that seems to change the interaction. I'd hoped it would pick up a little when more people went over there, but for the most part, my former LJ friends are broadcasters who don't seem to read or interact with others much.

Of course, several of them haven't friended me back, either, so either they're happy to be rid of old friends from LJ, or they don't have a good sense of how that platform is different. But the end result is the same. :(
halfshellvenus
Oct. 11th, 2017 09:10 pm (UTC)
Geez, I guess I'm in the same camp as the ladies above. I DO understand your point, and I don't think that any of the things that have happened are less awful than you do.

But... they seem to be concerned about the Russian audience, just as they were when they trotted out the Cyrillic half of the services and vKontate cross-posting and a bunch of other weirdness I've been ignoring ever since the whole "Be more like Facebook!" cropped up years ago, around the time of Six Apart. I'm not Russian, I don't use those services, and I never WANTED to use them. I'm here for journaling and ficcing, and I always was, and this is still the best place I know of for doing that combination of things and interacting with other participants.

The audience is here, the discussion is here.

I'm trying to envision a scenario where it makes sense to remain on LiveJournal, knowing these facts. If you think of any, let me know.
For the ultimate lameness: because it is still here now, and cross-posting from Dreamwidth is a thing that works. If the plug gets pulled, you at least have all of your stuff on the other platform. You won't have the discussion history from LJ, so you lose all the past interaction. But it's still better for me (and I do post both places) to have that discussion while I can, since no body really converses at Dreamwidth, Tumblr is its own realm of weirdness, and Facebook requires you to be so self-editing that there's no attraction at all. Plus, all your friends' entries tend to be similarly self-edited posts o' shallowness. Yuck.

Please don't hurt me...
penpusher
Oct. 12th, 2017 06:56 am (UTC)
I think it boils back down to a macro and a micro element. If your micro experience of the site is fine, you won't care about the macro. If you are concerned about the macro and the micro isn't going that well, there's less incentive to stay.

I know that people suggest that Facebook is an American entity and that they sold out their users to the highest bidder, and maybe even sold out the election as we are learning more, but, in a very big way, that was not the way of LiveJournal, until 6A entered the picture. It's not fair to compare what we have come to expect from LJ to those other platforms because they were seeking to capitalize on their audience relatively early on.

Really, it's all on brad. He first sold to SixApart but they didn't really know or understand what blogging was about and tried to bend the format to what they wanted and tried to shoehorn ads in using a very non-intuitive method. They created their own blog platform: "VOX" (remember that?) and tried to lure people to leave LJ so they could circumnavigate the whole "No Ads, Ever" comment that Brad stated... and then the "make LJ Ad Friendly" issues of "Strikethrough" and "Nipplegate," which were completely nonsensical and wrongheaded. That drove a lot of people away.

The problem was that Brad was on the "advisory board" to help this transition and he literally did nothing to educate, inform or prepare the management for what this was going to be. That's how 6A managed to mismanage what was a booming social media site.

What nobody knew was that the Russians wanted to grab LiveJournal and this was their chance. 6A was looking for a way out of this deal and happily sold LiveJournal off just to get out of the mess they got into. Never mind that likely some people got arrested, tried, convicted possibly even killed because of that. We'll likely never know for sure. But Brad is the culprit here.

Everyone is saying that no one is conversing on Dreamwidth. And I, as I have been saying all this while, respond, we have to treat LiveJournal like it no longer exists in order for that to happen. The longer people refuse to make that change, the longer it will take. But part of this has to do with your personal circle. If you haven't noticed a major change in the people you interact with as a result of the macro differences, you will feel less pressure or have less inclination to do something different yourself.

This really isn't about finding a "new" social media site (not that Facebook or Tumblr are "new" anymore). It's about finding a LJ like place that doesn't require a lot of behavioral changes or needing a lot of learn time to figure out. We have it. It's called Dreamwidth!
xo_kizzy_xo
Oct. 12th, 2017 01:31 pm (UTC)
That's just it -- everybody (or at least most people) who are still here don't feel the need to change their behavior here because they do/say nothing to require them to. Status quo and all that.

I think, if you are absolutely serious about all this, that you're the one who's going to have to pull the ripcord. Until you do that, everything here is windmill spinning.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

November 2017
S M T W T F S
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by chasethestars