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Private blogging--an oxymoron?

Sara Goo

For a long time now, I've really wanted to blog. (Aside from our little team here, I'm talking about a more personal, singular effort.) A few of my friends have blogs where they discuss the most intimate details of their lives and post photos of themselves and friends and family. As a reader, it's a great way of keeping tabs on them without exchanging a bunch of e-mails.

I want to join in but here's my problem: my dear, sweet husband is an incredibly private person. And for me, that severely limits my ability to blog honestly and fully without limitations. I respect his desire for privacy. But it would mean that I would have to seriously edit any discussion about my activities, which usually include him. He wouldn't want me posting photos of us on a Web site accessible to the world. Forget online video clips.

But a number of Internet companies are increasingly starting to offer private versions of the Web's most popular public formats to share your life's moments. Many people don't know you can create a personal Web page to share photos, write about your life, post music and video, etc. -- without having to share it with the world. You and your friends and family can just keep it all within your circle. In other words, it's private blogging. An oxymoron? I'm sure some people think so.

When I met Mena Trott, the co-founder and president of blogging company Six Apart, she told me she's more interested in privacy these days, too. She's been blogging since 2001 and said that, over time, she started to feel too exposed and her readers were starting to get in her business. Mena, whose company owns several popular blogging properties including The Moveable Type, TypePad and now LiveJournal, said that she created a new blogging platform called Vox that's aimed at older adults who are not techies and don't want to spend hours learning html code. That would be me. A key feature of Vox, which launched today, is that you can share your blog with only the friends and family members you let in.

It's another sign that the Internet continues to become easier to use and friendlier to the non-techie crowd -- those of us who don't want to feel quite so exposed, but want to dip our toes in, too.

By Sara Goo  |  October 26, 2006; 10:16 AM ET  | Category:  Sara Goo
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sounds like a great idea!

Posted by: Haley | October 26, 2006 5:04 PM

Would you, please, ask Mena Trott what she thinks about the selling of livejournal user profiles to KGB and Soviet mafia?

Posted by: Vincent | October 27, 2006 9:51 AM

Private, password protected blogs make perfect sense. When my wife was pregnant last year, it was a convenient way to keep anyone that was interested up to date on her pregnancy and not spam those who weren't interested via mass emails.

We also use it to chronicle the baby's development as well general happenings in the family. I find it to be a great tool. If I don't update it for a few days, I get more than 1 email asking for updates.

Posted by: Troy | October 27, 2006 10:39 AM

Livejournal has always had the option ot show only friends and family.

Why does SixApart need a new system when Livejournal does all that you mentioned - privacy protection and no html coding.

Posted by: vch0920 | October 27, 2006 3:42 PM

While providing new levels of privacy for some, Six Apart has just stripped scores of its LiveJournal bloggers of any, for the sole reason that they use the Cyrillic alphabet, independently of their current place of residence or citizenship: the right to provide service for the "Cyrillic users" was sold to a Russia-based company. Russian doesn't even have a word for "privacy", and the law of the land allows the authorities a virtually unlimited access to private databases. Apart from being an outrageous case of blatant language-based discrimination, this deal reveals a total disregard for their customers' privacy. I wouldn't trust Six Apart for the world if I were you.

Posted by: Elena Maslova, California | October 28, 2006 1:05 PM

I happen to be what SixApart calls a 'Cyrillic user'. I write in Russian. I do not have Russian nationality nor do I live in Russia. During the last several weeks, all of us such people have been desperately trying to find out the exact content of the deal SixApart concluded with SUP, a Russia-based company. In the first version (still true according to the head of SUP, Anton Nossik!), SUP was supposed to manage all "Cyrillic users" and all their private information was supposed to be handed over to SUP by SixApart. At least this is what SUP says, and SixApart did not bother to say anything at all then. Now, after several thousand protestors voiced their deep mistrust to that deal, SixApart is essentially saying that nothing of the kind has ever been intended, and that all Cyrillic users will be able to "opt in" rather than be given a possibility to "opt out" (not mentioned in the first days either). Sounds nice. However, Mr Nossik is still maintaining that certainly his company will have access to our passwords and private information, and in addition is calling all those who do not like the idea, jerks.
As for SixApart, all answers they give on their site dedicated to that transfer, are (intentionally?) vague.

If this is called respecting privacy, I do not know what isn't.

Posted by: Boris Velikson, France | October 28, 2006 2:08 PM

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