It seems like the past several months for me have revolved around the concept of community. What is it, how is it created, how do you interact in it, what are the obligations of people to their community and of a community to its people, etc. This started somewhat before I even started with LJ.
Certainly my trip to Burning Man did a lot to influence my thoughts on community. After Burning Man, I had much more of an interest and a passion for creating communities where I live... and for me, that means both online and locally. As a result, I have worked on a few ideas to help improve LJ community growth.
Why improve upon something that is already good? Well, the short answer is to make sure it stays good. With growth, LiveJournal could become a victim of its own success... however, LJ needs growth to become a self-sufficient and sustainable community. Growth equals new members, which means that Brad can pay the bills. At the same time, growth can kill LJ, in numerous ways.
I think the answer is to make sure that new users become integrated into and empowered to participate in the LJ experience. There are probably thousands of people who stumble across LJ, set up a generic journal which is largely ignored by other users, and who let their account fall into disuse, never really discovering the place.
Take a look at the table below.
The last few days of the table show how LiveJournal speed improvements greatly increase the number of new accounts per day... Expect even greater speed improvements with the new servers
As a way of addressing this, I created the idea for "Adopt-a-newbie", a feature that Brad will hopefully be implementing shortly. It would be a system for inexperienced users to request initial mentoring and support from active, experienced users. It would also provide new users who may not know anyone here with some kind of social contact here... maybe a basis for growing their friends list, etc.
I also recently proposed an idea to Brad for LiveJournal discussion groups. Basically, you would be able to create discussion groups based on interests or on geographical regions. For instance, people in New York might join a local group for planning activities, local chatter, etc. There could also be groups created for web designers, artists, poetry, etc.
Groups could be linked from interests or regions somewhat like this...
Sure, this isn't the most earthshatteringly original idea, but I think it will become necessary considering the latest LiveJournal stats
. I'm concerned that the LJ experience will become more like a busy city... a noisy place with a weak community. Groups would create small communities with distinctive characters. Features could even be expanded for groups to have calendars, voting, chat, etc. allowing for event planning, collaboration, and all those good kinda things.
So, what are your thoughts on LJ? Anything you'd like to see? LJ reminds me of Burning Man in a way... a bunch of people out in the middle of a desert with lots of space to create anything they want. It's creation out of void. Why limit yourself?