August 1, 2013

  • I See Some Farewell Posts.

    I find that confusing, because according to my “click here to support the relaunch” button, Xanga is at 103% of its modified fundraising goal, in plenty of time for its modified date.

    So it seems to me that a farewell post is probably unnecessary.

    Plus, I think it’s past midnight on the east coast now and I’m here in the xanga weblog editor which may or may not be powered by wordpress by now but appears to be exactly the same as it has always been.

    It’s like Y2K all over again.


    A strawberry pop tart ice cream sandwich sounds pretty good about now.

July 15, 2013

  • Some Xanga Reflections

    I’ve been settling in for some time over at WP (sorry to say, for those who find it a failing of loyalty or commitment or hope or something), and overall, I find I like it just fine. It feels much like my early years at Xanga when I had a few followers and friends who consistently commented but never saw myself on the front page. I blogged in obscurity. I thought of it then as a character-building exercise, in a way, writing blogs for my own purposes and not for the purpose of attracting more readers, kind of like making art for the sake of advancing an artistic conversation rather than making it to get famous.

    After the Great Fall, as I personally like to think of it, the period of time when all the Xangalebrities seemed to leave overnight for FB and Twitter and whatever else, it was easy to find myself on the front page. The old Xangalebrities would say they took all the competition with them; when you can write whatever you want for ten or eleven people and get on the front page, you can’t take any pride in getting on the front page. Back in the day you’d need at least 200 or 300 commenters to get anywhere near the front page. So the Xangalebrities deserted Xanga and left us with a substandard front page filled with bloggers like…me.

    The loss of the Xangalebrities, the loss of the days when blogs frequently garnered 200 or 300 comments has been described as the loss of “content.” I don’t know if that’s true. I used to read the Xangalebrities back in the day, just for fun, the same way I read the front page today. Just to see what’s going on in the community, what the loudest voices are saying, and while I didn’t think anything bad about any of their blogs I didn’t particularly think they were chock full of content. I mean, whatever, I like posts that are tl;dr. I like analysis more than ranting, wittiness better than straight comedy, information more than recaps of popular media sources. But, I mean, each to his own.

    And I suppose, in a way, this reflects the difference between thinking of Xanga as a blogging platform and thinking of Xanga as a social networking site, a community.

    I’ve learned a lot from Xanga over the years, both in terms of sheer education from reading other people’s opinions and ideas and links, and in terms of the process of writing and, more specifically, my process of writing.

    Today is the day Xanga was meant to disappear. I remember when @roadlesstaken (on his radio show) asked Xanga Team John about whether the deadline was a hard deadline, July 15, and John responded that he didn’t think he had the ability to change the crowdhoster date. But he looked into it, he said, on the site, and indeed he could change the deadline. It seemed to me at the time that @roadlesstaken was asking a slightly different question, not so much, “do you have the ability to alter the date on the fundraising website,” but more, “is Xanga out of money and out of servers and doomed if you don’t have the money by July 15?”

    Those seem to me to be two different questions, but then as I’ve suggested above, I’m overly analytical.

    I love the post on the fundraising site with the adorable photos of Xanga Team John’s young children, because a) the children are adorable; and b) it supports my personal vision about the nature of this fundraising effort and the past and future of Xanga.

    I’ve said before that for me, the switch to Xanga 2.0 according to Xanga Team John is an “opt out” rather than an “opt in,” because I’m already a lifetime premium member in good standing. I’ve been very on the fence about how to proceed and I figured I’d do some serious thinking and decision-making over the weekend of July 12-14. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I could put it off for two more weeks. Surprise and also a vague feeling of irritation, because when big events are coming up in my life I like for them just to happen already, and not linger around plaguing me with their unsettledness.

    I know. This post: tl;dr.

July 1, 2013

June 30, 2013

  • The Big Interview

    I love that this happened on the last day of the week on the last day of the month before the Xanga fundraiser deadline. I make New Year’s resolutions every year. I like apt timing.

    @roadlesstaken interviewed John on his radio show tonight, live. I’m not great at transcription. I’m more into summaries and interpretations, which is why I ended up in appellate law and not court reporting. In appellate law we can take the raw material and twist it pretty much however we want. Just kidding. We totally don’t do that. Okay, we kinda do that. 

    I listened to the whole show. John hit the following subjects in roughly this order: his own experience meeting his wife on Xanga and co-founding Xanga in 1999/2000 (so cute); the names of the current Xanga members and their general area of expertise (Mark, Justin, Eugenia, Bob, and Dan); his dedication to Xanga (loves it); his feelings about what the users have perceived as a lack of communication (the team has been really busy, knee-deep in code, etcetera); his motivation for continuing Xanga (love); the fundraiser (more on that later); his vision for Xanga 2.0 (community, simplicity, privacy); the details of transfer for current Xanga members to Xanga 2.0 (you’re a Xangan 2.0 like it or not if you’re a current premium member. The rest of you should archive but he might transfer your data if time/money/headaches allow). He said the word “community” a lot, haha. I thought about counting how many times but decided that might sound petty or nitpicky, and I am neither petty nor nitpicky. I just notice funny things, particularly in presentations, because I’ve argued a lot of cases.

    As always, Alex did a great job.

    John made the following two curious points in close succession: first, he said he wanted to dispel any ideas that Xanga is just a hobby he runs out of his basement. He said he works on Xanga full-time, along with two of the other Xanga Team members, Justin and Eugenia. But second, he said he hasn’t taken a salary in years.

    First let me say, John sounded genuine and serious and I have no reason to disbelieve anything he said. I don’t disbelieve him. I just want to be clear about that. He seemed like a very nice guy and his two babies in the background sounded adorable, if fussy. Ah, babies. Don’t miss those days.

    So although I don’t disbelieve him, I am still mystified by the idea of holding a fundraiser for a business that I don’t expect to get paid for running.

    I tried to imagine what reasons I might have for doing such a thing, and I could only come up with a few possible reasons: 1) I’m a SAHD but I need meaningful work and I don’t care if I make any money as long as I don’t go insane taking care of kids all day; 2) I’m a SAHD but I need meaningful work and also my spouse makes quite a bit of jack and my business losses are an indispensable part of our tax-planning toolkit; 3) I was born independently wealthy and remain independently wealthy (i.e., I am Prince Harry or Paris Hilton) so I don’t ever need to make a dime and can afford working full-time at something I love; 4) I make a distinction between “salary” and “profits from my business;” or 5) ——-???

    If you’re thinking: 1) why do you care; or 2) why is it any of your fucking business, I think I can answer both of those questions at once:

    John and others at Xanga have pleaded with me as a user and a community-member to “donate,” “give,” and/or “save” Xanga by pledging money for a paid blogging model.

    Fundraising, in my limited experience, is not something one ordinarily encounters in a for-profit business. Fundraising is usually something one encounters in a non-profit setting or on a personal basis. In a for-profit business, money is ordinarily raised by a) selling something; or b) finding investors.

    In this situation, I would not be an investor, that much is clear. No shares of Xanga are offered on Kickstarter. I might be buying something, although in my particular case, as a paid Lifetime Premium user whose account is going to be honored per John at Xanga 2.0, I would merely be donating. Or potentially purchasing a membership for a friend. 

    The question was asked, “how many pledges do you need, how many paying users do you need to attract, to be certain you can run the new site for a year?”

    Good question, right? Because, I mean, if you’re buying something, and what you’re buying is a membership for a year, you want to be certain the site will be running in one year.

    Answer: that’s really tricky. Fundraisers are different from a paid model. Many people have been very generous and as long as some people seem willing to help and support blah blah community value feeling friendship blah blah.

    So, I mean, this is the crux of my confusion about John’s relationship to his business. Presumably, if he works at it full-time, and he considers it a business and a calling and a permanent job, he would like to earn a salary from it one day. I don’t know. That’s just speculation, I suppose. I have no idea whether this is true, but I suspect Mark Zuckerburg does not work for free. I mean, I don’t know. Admittedly. I actually have no idea.

    On the other hand, if it’s a non-profit type thing, if John is an artist, for example, and Xanga is his art, and we’re donating as his biggest fans and the living part of his living art, well, okay. That makes sense in its own way. 

    John seemed to be saying, during this podcast, that $60,000 isn’t really enough to run the site for a year and it’s difficult or impossible to make money off community sites and he seemed to be saying that he never expects to make any money off the site. Yet he also seems to be saying that Xanga 2.0 is a done deal in his mind and he considers it his full-time job.

    He said he is confident and optimistic about the fundraiser. I find this a tiny bit mystifying too, but then again, I know nothing about online fundraising.

    Years ago I met a group of people on a public message board run by a corporation. 30 of us really hit it off. We met a guy, sight unseen, on the site, and he offered to host a private message board for the thirty of us. It was a completely closed off garden for us to chat every day, not much in the way of features, but plenty of community and privacy and simplicity. We all had to send him $5 a year for his costs and effort to keep our site online. I never met that guy. He seemed trustworthy. Some of my friends, the ones I had met, met him and liked him and trusted him. I’m FB friends with him now even though I left the site years ago.

    So that model makes sense, in a lot of ways. I guess it even makes sense for a community of 200 or 300 people.

    When he says community, does he mean me? I don’t know. 

    I suppose as a Lifetime Premium member I have three options to consider over the next fifteen days:

    (1) I can donate however much money I choose to the cause of saving Xanga and rest easy knowing I’m set as a Xanga 2.0 member.

    (2) I can keep my money and sit on my hands and hope that my community donates the rest of the money to save Xanga and rest easy knowing I’m set as a Xanga 2.0 member (but live with the guilt of being a freeloader).

    (3) I can delete my account on 7/15 and close this chapter in my life.

  • Last Day of June

    Last night I listened to @ShimmerBodyCream and @Lithium98. I also heard @VaneDave and @Cakalusa. I intended to listen to @MyxlDove and @GreekPhysique, which would have completed the series for me as far as bloggers I’ve read, commented or interacted with in some way on Xanga. Sadly we had a (hamster) death in the family and I got pulled away (LINK)

    In some ways it was new generation/old generation, listening to @ShimmerBodyCream and @VaneDave. As far as I know, Shimmer came along after VaneDave’s zenith on Xanga. @VaneDave referred to himself as a Xangalebrity, a term I hadn’t heard in a few years, probably three or four years at least. I was completely out of touch during the Xangalebrity years. A blogger doesn’t really familiarize himself/herself with the front page or the idea of “popularity” as a blogger until he/she actually ends up with a post on the front page. Then suddenly Xanga turns out to be a whole lot bigger than you thought. This was the experience I had and one that @VaneDave also had, evidently. I was very amused to hear him say he felt that on any given day on Xanga he could write a post and it would be the best one out there. 

    Well, today that’s probably true, ha. But that’s only because it’s 15 days until Armageddon and everyone knows it.

    @ShimmerBodyCream, on the other hand, has made meaningful connections on Xanga with cool people who weren’t part of @VaneDave’s collection of Xangalebrities from circa 2008-2010.

    I agreed with a lot of the things @Lithium98 had to say. I can’t remember exactly what things. I just remember thinking, “yeah, I think that’s true.” I realize that’s not helpful if you’re not planning to listen yourself. Actually, I’m kinda wondering why I bothered to write it at all but now there it is so what the hell.

    @Cakalusa was pretty quiet, which seemed funny to me. Not funny strange, funny LOL.

    One person’s “content” is another person’s, “why on earth did that get featured?!” is another person’s, “man, Xanga has really gone downhill,” is yet another person’s, “this is the best post I’ve ever read!!!”

    Most interviewees expressed a wish that we could get back the old, hand-picked featured posts, as a way to highlight good content. Everyone agreed (without saying it) that number of views does not necessarily translate to best content. Featured Posts were varied and interesting and a way for new bloggers to find the sunshine. Interestingly, no one agreed on what kind of posts are the “best,” or should be consistently featured. Some people only like humor; some people only like short posts. Some like politics, some hate it; some prefer posts with tons of profanity and even flame wars with other Xangans while others like a zillion pics of skinny people taken off Tumblr. One can see how hard it would be for the Xanga Team (or really, even any team, made up of lesser beings than the Xanga gods) to please a base of users by picking and featuring content.

    The best thing about this radio show experience for me is it has been a way of wrapping up my Xanga experience over the past eight or ten years. It’s like listening in on podcasts for a support group for something. Everyone has expressed the same basic idea…they love Xanga, they’ll miss Xanga, they worry that Xanga risen from the ashes won’t be the same as the Xanga they know. Regardless of what happens to Xanga or how successfully they transition to a new model (or whether they do at all), it was a good experience to hear the reflections of so many different kinds of people.

    I’m looking forward to hearing what John has to say tonight, just to round out my Xangapocalypse experience. In keeping with this state of mind, I saw “This Is The End,” last night. I laughed my ass off. Seriously. It was hilarious. Almost as good as my most recent favorite movie, “The Other Guys.”

June 29, 2013

  • When I Said, “Cute,” I Meant Professional, Of Course

    I told @roadlesstaken yesterday in a response to his comment that what I meant by “cute” is he has an amiable and even self-deprecating manner about him on the radio. Also, his sense of humor and his kind of…informal approach, I guess…makes him seem like the kind of guy you’d like to know in person. So I didn’t mean “cute” in the way people called me “cute,” back in my early days of lawyering…you know, in a condescending, belittling way, ha. As in, “she’s really cute, but do you think she can perform in the courtroom?” Or, “she’s so cute, I bet she won’t last a year before she’s having a baby and quitting her job.” HA.

    He has a good, thorough interviewing style as well, lest you think “cute” means ineffective.

    I had to drive back and forth to my mother’s last night to drop my kids off, a round trip of three hours. Then when I got home (alone! hallelujah!) I had to clean out the hamster cage and clean the house and other busy-work tasks. All this by way of excuses for spending several more hours listening to Alex interview Xangans. Last night I heard:

    @Edlives, The Big Show (remember Big Show? I really enjoyed his writing), @TheBlackSpiderman, @TheTheologiansCafe, @Seedsower and @SaintVi.

    One thing no one has mentioned on the show or on any posts that I’ve seen: in the Relaunch Xanga post, our Xanga God said, “I’m willing to work for free.”

    My question is: why? I find that very troubling. To me, a person who is willing to work for free is thinking about that particular endeavor as a sideline or hobby or extremely risky gamble that might or might not pay off. You know, as in, “don’t quit your day job.” I work for free all the time, but that’s because I work full time taking care of 3 kids, and I’m trying to save some contacts and places for later. This leads me to wonder, is the Xanga Team made up of people who have all moved to other, full-time jobs? Is the Xanga Team in the weeds with new babies (good Lord, I know how that is)? 

    @SaintVi made a comment about her belief that @Edlives took a lot of pressure off the team in re: communication with users by stepping up as a spokesperson. It’s her feeling that the small team is working as hard as they can and we should give them a break. I hear that, I do. But I’ll say this, too: it takes me about 20 minutes every morning as soon as I get up to knock off a quick post like this one. After that I shuttle my kids around, write appeals for felons, run my household. It just seems like communication could be a series of short, quick, reassuring bursts. I’m skeptical that it’s just not possible for someone who wants to run a business like Xanga to take these twenty minutes each morning, or once a week.

    Listening to all these interviews back-to-back is fascinating. I know I said that yesterday. But the diversity of opinions and feelings and motivations is striking. Everyone has his/her own point of view about what Xanga is, what it should be and what the ideal social-networking/blogging/creative network would be.

    Big Show and @TheBlackSpiderman exchanged some interesting comments about whether long-form blogging is part of the past and micro-blogging is the future. I’m a long-form blogger, obviously. WordPress turns out to be good for that, as Big Show says. But if Xanga is primarily about community, and community is a euphemism for social-networking, than perhaps micro-blogging, apps, and more of a Tumblr atmosphere makes sense.

    My regret after listening to all these people is maintaining my privacy to such a degree that I haven’t met many Xangans. I’ve met one, in fact. My husband and I live our lives in controversial positions because of his work and even mine, to a lesser extent. I mean, for every criminal you represent, there’s an angry victim. For every person you prosecute, there’s a devastated family. For this reason, I haven’t been inclined to go public with my identity. Years ago I nearly showed up at a Houston Xanga meet. I kinda regret not doing that. Listening to @SaintVi and @Seedsower talk about their meet-ups, and Alex talk about his, they all sound enriched by the experience of meeting other Xangans.

    Hearing Xangans talk about what Xanga means to them (and even hearing @christao408 calling it Z-awn-ga) has brought home to me that there isn’t really a bell curve of Xanga. Interviewed Xangans want more features, no features, less features, the same number of features; they want traffic or they don’t care about traffic; they love the community, they love their own particular friends, or they love their -ish site support; they want more photo options they want more long-form content they want more twitter-like comments. Xangans see Xanga as a social-networking site, a writing site, a diary site. They are all ages. They have all kinds of jobs, interests, positions.

    The last of my trip is described on my wordpress account. A word about wordpress, if you will: I find it has many of the same features as Xanga, called something slightly different, and many of the features Xangans wish they could have (like a Like button, for example). It is ideal for long-form blogging, in my opinion. Not any more ideal than Xanga has been, but not necessarily any less, either. I have not found other wordpress users, strangers, non-Xangans, to be any less open to contacts or connections than Xangans have been. It is much bigger, and without private messaging and pulse and a Featured front page (as opposed to the Freshly Pressed, Top Blog model, based on traffic), it could be quite a bit harder to build an audience and/or make new close friends. But take heart, Xangans. There are places to settle even if $60,000 doesn’t translate into the Xanga experience we’ve all grown to love.

    I hope you’ll mark my new blog in your bookmarks. Wait. That’s so laptop. So middle-aged. I hope you’ll visit me on your wordpress app from your iPad. If they have an app. Hm. Maybe I should check into that.

June 28, 2013

  • More Thoughts About Xanga and Its Situation

    I spent some time listening to @roadlesstaken and his radio show last night. I don’t interact with him much on here, but first let me say, he’s so cute! His radio show was great. I forget sometimes that many people in the larger Xanga community (is there a larger Xanga community??) think of Xanga fondly as a place they first found in middle school. Naturally this means that quite a bit of the community are a lot younger than me.

    hahahaha. I mean, a lot.

    I was in middle school in 1980, before Al Gore invented the internets. Before Michael J Fox went Back to the Future, even. I didn’t have no Xanga in middle school. You know what I had? Spiral notebooks I hid under my bed. Not kidding.


    I heard two of the shows, with four guests total, @firetyger, @GodlessLiberal, @christao408 and @super_rob_of_the_sky. It was fascinating to hear people’s voices in real life, and also to hear the wide variety of perspectives and feelings about Xanga, its history, its latest debacle and its future. I sort of expected to hear five people chatting amongst themselves about having the same basic experience connected with the same basic Xanga community and brainstorming about how to convince more people to give more money. Instead, I heard five people talking about a Xanga that meant something slightly different to each of them and expressing support, ambivalence, skepticism, determination…a whole range of feelings about the fundraising drive.

    Very helpful, as I have a whole range of feelings about the fundraising drive myself.

    @roadlesstaken says John from the Xanga Team will be on his radio show Sunday night.

    It’s almost like the season finale of Game of Thrones. I mean, I’ve been blogging right here about every personal thing that ever happened to me for the past eight years…Xanga has been my Notebook Under My Bed since 2003 or 2004…and if Xanga has a God, it’s Absent John From the Xanga Team.

    So many questions! Why did you bring us here? What purpose do we serve? If we sacrifice our firstborn lambs (i.e., pledge our credit and our future for your drive), will you show yourself?

    I’m just kidding, of course, with that last thing. I get a little carried away with the biblical metaphors sometimes.

    I don’t interact much with any of the guests, but Xanga is a small town, and just like in a small town, you know everyone. I know all four of the people I heard talking to @roadlesstaken. Funny, they were all exactly as I would have expected, from reading their blogs and their comments. That’s reassuring, because you feel like you really do know your community. But it’s odd to think of giving money to someone you don’t know at all, you don’t ever see, i.e., the Xanga Team, for the sake of a community you know inside and out. It’s not a question of saving the community, in my mind. It’s a question of saving the Xanga business for the Xanga Team. There’s a disconnect there.

    I mean, if you’re in a club, and the club meets at a community center, and the community center burns down, is your club disbanded? No, your club is not disbanded. Your club just needs to find a new place to meet.

    On the other hand, if you’re in a club with fluid members, and its meetings take place Flash Mob style with no notice in advance about time, place or who will show up on a particular day, and everyone just knows, by tradition, to show up at the community center…and then the community center burns down…yeah, you’re going to take some hits in re: attendance if you try to start meeting somewhere else. I guess all you can do is post signs on the burned-down building telling people where you will be, and hope they follow. And assume other splinter groups are doing the same.

    If you want to switch gears and read my confessional hiking piece, here it is: LINK.

June 27, 2013

  • Another Day, Another 2 or 3 Blog Entries

    I’ve been trying to think back about how I built my xanga community. When I first started blogging here I “knew” two or three bloggers from a yahoo listserve and I subscribed to them immediately. I brought one “friend” with me from another website…she long ago abandoned her Xanga. I met a couple of people in blogrings.

    And then after that it was just a long, slow process of seeing who read my blog, responding to comments, etcetera. One of my blogs got on “Featured Posts” back when we had featured posts on Xanga. It wasn’t meant to attract attention. It was kind of mean-spirited, actually, a satire of a post that had been on the front page for several days. It brought me new people to meet, though. Later I did a fiction scavenger hunt and met many people that way. Probably some people found me through recommend, which is different from “like” in that the blogs my wordpress community “likes” don’t show up on my reader. So if you “like” someone’s post on wordpress, I never find out about it. 

    As far as I know. WordPress has a bewildering array of capabilities and options.

    So the question I’ve been asking myself is: will I be able to create the same sense of community for myself on wordpress?

    I started on wordpress with a much larger group of internet friends. I miss some of the Xangans I loved the most who almost never show up over there, but I’ve been surprised by the increased interaction I’ve had with others. It’s funny about that. Your online friendships can be strangely myopic. It’s not always the people you interact with most online who turn out to be your biggest fans or your most compatible friends. There are bloggers on Xanga whom I like and respect who wouldn’t know my username if I was wearing it on a Xanga t-shirt in 25-point print. And there are people who read my blog whom I almost never hear from or see. I try to be sensitive to that. You don’t want to ignore someone if you can help it. But it’s hard when you can’t physically see them, standing on the edge of the circle.

    None of this to say that my daily peeps, the ones I interact with all the time, aren’t still my faves and my besties. You are, of course. You know who you are.

    I’ve met a couple of non-xangans on wordpress (eeek, gah, hiss, boo) already. I tend to think other wordpressians have established their communities entirely on wordpress, by meeting people off “Freshly Pressed,” the wordpress equivalent to Top Blogs, and by tagging their entries and who-knows-what-other publicizing methods. Maybe some of them are “out” in their writing and link to their FB page or tweet about their blogs with their real-life friends. I don’t know.

    One interesting feature of wordpress is the ability to create multiple blogs on the same account. I haven’t done this yet, but I’ve almost done it. I’ve set up a second blog under my ordinarybutloud account for fiction scavenger hunts, present and future. I tend to blog along two or three or even four lines on xanga: personal musings and diary entries; issue-based rants or musings; rants or musings about my desire and efforts to become a published writer; fiction related to the scavenger hunts or prompts I’ve found on xanga. I find that my readers individually don’t tend to like all four types of blogs. Some people are bored out of their heads with my personal life, others hate my issue-based posts (particularly when they don’t match with their own opinions), and still others don’t like to read my fiction. On xanga they just skip those days. On wordpress perhaps they could “follow” the blog that correlates with the topic they like and ignore the rest of my crap.

    I no longer have a good sense of how likely it is that xanga will become Xanga 2.0. I’m still troubled by the questions I had in the beginning that haven’t been answered and I’m also kinda wondering, if you can make a new start with $60,000, why can’t you make a new start with $35,000? I’ll admit I have no idea what it costs to rent servers or what-have-you. But $60,000 feels like a number picked out of a hat to me. It would be nice, as investors, to know where the $60,000 will go, and why $35,000 is not enough. I realize technically xangans aren’t investors. They’re getting nothing in return for their venture capital. They’re just donors. I’m still having a hard time wrapping my mind around that concept, too. A business, funded by donations. A for-profit business, getting its venture capital in the form of pledges. 


    It looks like there were more things than I thought clogging up my creative process today.