Dreamwidth: A New Blog Site
Dreamwidth Studios is an blog site and social network that offers free hosted blogs to its members.
Dreamwidth is based on the same software that runs the popular blogging service LiveJournal and it was founded by two former employees of LiveJournal.
The basic structure of the site will remain similar. Users will have personal online journals at an address such as myname.dreamwidth.org. They can read their friends' journals on their "friends list" and can also start communities based around certain interests, or join communities started by other people. This is the community building structure that has made LiveJournal such a successful social network and blogging platform.
Despite this, Dreamwidth is not a LiveJournal clone. There will be a number of differences in features and services.
One of the differences most exciting to me is the ability to more easily control who has access to personal posts, by dividing the "friends list" (here called a "reading list") into "watch" and "trust" categories from the start. In this way, Dreamwidth allows you to easily subscribe to people's journals without granting them access to your personal posts, while LiveJournal currently relies on a somewhat complicated system of filters to perform the same function.
Dreamwidth has also raised character limits on usernames, posts, and comments, as well as the number of comments possible on a post before it is locked.
Dreamwidth's other features include:
- revamped styles, with improved standardization of options and CSS markup to make it easier to customize journal layouts with CSS
- the ability to import your journal in full, including comments, from other LJ-based services (future plans for the same feature include Wordpress, Typepad, Blogger, and more)
- the ability to crosspost to other services from within Dreamwidth (currently only LJ-based services, but with plans to expand to others)
- the ability to use Google Analytics for Paid and Premium users
- no ads, ever!
- and more
Personally, I also appreciate the open source and inclusive philosophy of the site and its owners and administrators.
Dreamwidth and Internet Marketing
LiveJournal has a long history of being unfriendly to commercial uses. Though this has changed somewhat in recent years with the introduction of "sponsored" accounts and communities, Dreamwidth clearly plans to continue the original tradition. Among other things, it has pledged to remain advertising free, and plans to make up the difference with higher fees. As on LiveJournal, community moderators will have significant oversight to delete posts deemed inappropriate or spammy.
The most successful commercially-minded journals on LiveJournal have tended to be in the creative arts. For example, one of LiveJournal's power users is Ursula Vernon, a successful comic artist who uses her journal, ursulav, to share her latest creations, releases, and appearances, as well as discussing her interests in gardening, birding, and more. I anticipate Dreamwidth will be similar in this regard.
Setting Up a Dreamwidth Account
Dreamwidth is currently in open beta.
For the time being, free account creation is limited to those with invite codes in order to allow the site to grow at a manageable rate. If you want a free account but don't know anyone with invite codes, you can request one at dw_codesharing.
You also have the option of purchasing a paid or premium account. Paid accounts start at $3/month. If you want, you can buy one month and let it lapse back to a free account after that (you will lose some features, but not your journal or its name) or you can support the site by purchasing a longer term account.
If you want to "try before you buy", you can begin exploring the site and its features with an OpenID. OpenID accounts can upload up to six user avatars, have a profile and reading list, and comment on others' posts. They cannot post in their own journal (since they do not, technically, have one) or create communities.
For a full description of the different account levels, visit the Account Levels page on the Dreamwidth Wiki.
If you are interested in Dreamwidth, you might also be interested in HubPages! HubPages is a site where you can post articles, essays, and other writing to share information, express opinions, or promote your blog or other website.