Six Apart News & Events

Professional Network introduction to LiveJournal

As you've probably seen, either through rumors in the blogosphere, in the FAQ linked on our company homepage, or in Mena's account on Mena's Corner, we (Six Apart) have acquired LiveJournal. A lot of the details are covered in those links, but there's some information that might be of specific interest to the Professional Network community:

(Re-)Introducing LiveJournal

Most of you are probably familiar with LiveJournal, but it might be worth reviewing what it is and how it works for those of you who haven't had a chance to take a look. As you might know, LiveJournal is a hosted journal service that's similar to TypePad in some ways. However, LiveJournal is strongly focused on community, and members tend to post more frequently, less formally, and with messages that are targetted just to friends and family whom they've allowed to view posts. In short, it's not that far from Mena's vision of tightly-knit bonds in weblogging. It's a fascinating and diverse community, and a lot of that breadth shows up in the publicly-available statistics that you can find on the site.

One heck of a technical platform

LiveJournal supports five and a half million users on pages that are dynamically generated. The primary development platform is Perl, and Brad and his team have made some amazing platform pieces like memcached, which is used to scale dynamic sites ranging from LiveJournal to Slashdot to WikiPedia. Then there's Perlbal, a Perl-based reverse proxy load balancer, and that's available for download for free, too. Naturally, LiveJournal has its own very active developer community as well.

Opportunity if you work with APIs or feeds

If you've created tools or clients that use the Atom API to post, or that read Atom or RSS feeds, there's now one consistent base of users across our TypePad, Movable Type, and LiveJournal platforms that you can target for your services. An audience of more than 6.5 million users is available today, and we'll be working to ensure the LiveJournal implementation of the AtomAPI and feeds is as consistent as the TypePad and Movable Type implementations. Even better, there's a broad base of FOAF files generated by LiveJournal, which when combined with TypePad and TypeKey's members makes for a base of millions of FOAF files available today.

Yep, it's Open Source

That brings us to the next point which developers might find interesting, LiveJournal's code base is released under various open source licenses (including GPL): We've always been big supporters of Open Source here at Six Apart, (What's that? You forgot about all the code we've released over the years?) and that's not gonna change.

Lots of innovation

We've seen a lot of good ideas come into the weblog realm, but the LiveJournal community was among the earliest to implement a lot of them. LiveJournal has long supported "Interests", which let you assign an arbitrary keyword and then browse the journals of everyone else who shares that interest. It's very similar to the folksonomies that have developed around tags in applications like or Flickr. There's also the ability to limit control of who can read a journal on a per-entry basis by using your friends list. You can read all of your friends' journals in one aggregation page, similar to how web-based aggregators work with feeds in non-journal blogging tools. You can syndicate feeds from outside sites into LiveJournal. And LiveJournal users have long used posting clients to update their sites, with a wide variety of platforms supported and lots of opportunity for making creative new clients.

Just Getting Started

We're excited to welcome the LiveJournal team aboard here at Six Apart, and once the dust has settled a bit and the team is settled in, I'll be picking their brains a bit to find out about their areas of expertise that might be of use to Professional Network members. To get you started, you might want to see this PDF document, which is a presentation talking about some of the scaling and technical challenges that LiveJournal has handled in the past.