I wrote the first chapter, and most of the second chapter, of the "LiveJournal for Intranets" manual I mentioned earlier. Writing documentation is like pulling teeth, but I had nothing better to do on the plane... Anyway, here's the first chapter, comments and suggested changes are welcome.
This chapter describes what LiveJournal is, what it can be used for,
and why you might want to use it. If you just want to get started,
skip to chapter 2.
WHAT IS A LIVEJOURNAL?
A LiveJournal is, at the most basic level, a web page of timestamped
entries. This is a very broad concept which covers many types of
functionality. The LiveJournal system offers many tools which make
authoring such pages easy, and adds powerful features for both
personal productivity and collaboration.
LiveJournal comes with client software which makes it easy for the
owner of the journal, and any other authorized users, to author new
entries. In fact, it's easier to add content to a LiveJournal than
to add it to a text file or send it via email. LiveJournal entries
have been described as "instant messages to the web" because of this
extreme ease of use.
The LiveJournal interface allows other users of the system to comment
on entries, or on other comments, in threaded discussions. Users may
choose to be notified via email of comments on their entries or on
their comments. LiveJournal thus incorporates the functionality of
traditional message boards.
# modify when friend groups get a little more mature
# modify when subscription allows email notification of updates;
# LJ will then subsume the functionality of mailing lists
LiveJournal also allows any user to "watch" any number of journals,
and track updates to all of those journals on a single web page.
This feature, the "friends view", allows users to precisely define
what LiveJournal content they want to read and greatly increases the
efficiency with which they can read it.
# BUG: uh, write the "sophisticated robust full-text search
# capabilities that I'm claiming LJ has ...
While users are most often concerned with new and recent content,
log entries never leave the LiveJournal system, and after months
of use a substantial amount of recorded knowledge can accumulate.
The interface to browse old entries in a journal is straightforward,
and LiveJournal also provides sophisticated, robust full-text search
capabilities to find information in any journal in the system.
WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?
LiveJournal can be used for a variety of applications, such as:
- Work journals - for an individual to record what they're working on
or scribble notes for future reference.
- Project logs - for multiple members of a project team to record
their work, post meeting minutes, and discuss ideas.
- Announcement pages - for recording status updates to projects or
systems on a single page, while notifying interested users.
- Discussion boards - for brainstorming ideas or soliciting opinions
with a group, in a persistent but nonintrusive medium.
- Weblogs - for posting links to web content of interest to a particular group.
Benefits of using LiveJournal include:
- Enhances personal productivity by providing a convenient way to
record notes in a searchable, web-accessible medium
- Provides visibility between departments or geographically separate
- Encourages communication by making it easy to share thoughts and
- Encourages people to get knowledge out of their heads and notebooks
and into a visible, searchable, central location
- Provides more powerful tools for creating and accessing content than
are available for ad-hoc log-structured web pages
# BUG: this isn't true yet, brad's working on it
- Reduces the amount of email people are flooded with, while still
providing email notification for those who prefer it
LiveJournal can be used effectively by a single person, and the system
becomes more and more valuable as more people within an organization
# does this section belong here? elsewhere in doc? outside of doc?
# how many comments? page views? those would be interesting stats.
# do i need to shout out to more peeps?
The beginnings of LiveJournal were written in 1997 by Brad Fitzpatrick
as a system for keeping a personal web journal. In 1999, Brad started
LiveJournal.com, which offered the system as a no-cost (and ad-free!)
service to the public. In April 2001 Brad placed LiveJournal under an
open-source license, clearing the way for businesses to run private
instances of LiveJournal on their internal networks, and for outside
developers to customize and add features to the software.
As of May 2001, LiveJournal.com has 115000 users, is growing at the
rate of almost 1000 users per day, and has over 3.5 million journal
entries in the database with over 10000 posts added every day.