So, SixApart made some
incredibly stupidunfortunate business decisions about Certain Types of content yesterday. Lots of blowback all over the place; I first saw stuff on Warren Ellis’s site (this is his final word as I write this) and then Elf Sternberg posted (and there have been subsequent posts from Elf on the same topic). From what I can see standing on the edge of the community, seems like a lot of people are poised to up and move elsewhere.
Here’s the thing: this is the downside of the “user-generated content” “revolution” – it’s way too easy for somebody else to pull the plug on you with little to no notice. It has its own set of issues, but the next step up the Internet food chain – buying your own domain and getting it hosted somewhere – is a lot more resilient to this particular type of disruption. The problem is that the feature set of LJ isn’t, as far as I know, really available in a form you can use in a “hosted” fashion.
That’s where we come to the idea. It seems to me like, given that OpenID is mature and getting some traction, it should be possible to come up with some reasonably simple CGI that ties together some basic blogging functionality, some RSS pull/display capability, and a bit of access management, and bicketyBAM, instant distributed LiveJournal-ish-like thingy. The key here is that there aren’t any centralized servers where this runs, you’ve just got a whole bunch of people with CGIs on their own hosted domains and all the community interaction happens from the CGIs talking to each other, using OpenID to handle all the authentication/authorization issues. The real beauty is that, since LiveJournal supports OpenID, taking your existing LiveJournal community with you shouldn’t be a big deal – which was a concern for Elf and I bet for a lot of other people. Pair this with a tool that scrapes your old content out of your LiveJournal and dumps it into the new system, and you’ve just made it possible for people to jump off the LJ wagon.
One of you crazy college kids that just got out of school for the summer pick this up and run with it, okay? First version doesn’t have to be all that pretty, just has to be good enough to spread around and demo the idea for people; once that happens I don’t think you’ll have a big problem with contributors.