Hmm, well...hmm. See, here's my worry. Back in the rough and lawless days of internet blogging, there rose a site that allowed people to have their own blogs. No longer would one have to do serious work on one's owned domain to have a weblog, one could get one easily and share with the world! True, there were many sites that sprang up, but this one seemed to shine out, making things easy and fun. OK, that got lengthy and out of hand, but you get the idea. Fast forward several years, to the rise of Friendster, Facebook, and the Almighty MySpace. The rise of the Camphone Culture needed something new, something shiny, something that promoted popularity and vanity over any kind of substance. Straight blog sites like LJ were in trouble, and they knew it. So, they opted to change with the times. Understandable, sure; that's just good business.
Here's my problem: it's NOT good business to grow in such a direction that you alienate your established customers in the race to get new ones. Sadly, this seems to be a direction that LJ wants to go. For instance, it's pushing for the S2 style system to become site-wide; great for the quick-and-easy button-click needs of the 20-something set, but for those that like the flexibility and customization of S1, it's a nightmare. Personally, I haven't seen an S2 style yet that impressed me to any degree, and even if it did, I don't want to learn a new language to use it. The things they want to "give" us and push on us, plenty of us couldn't care less about (tags, for instance; I'm not so arrogant that I think people want to dig through my journal for just entries tagged with "mushy truffles" or something). The "Sponsored+" thing, well, that doesn't bug me too much. I'm paid, so I don't see a damn thing. It's a normal way of doing internet business these days, and I know how to work around it, so that's not as big a deal.
Then there's the whole "HitBox" debacle. Supposedly, it's so they can gather data and "dig deeper into how users and visitors use LiveJournal", claiming that the "data [they] collect will help [them] prioritize improvements to the site, among other things." Apparently, "listening to user suggestions" isn't good enough for telling what important improvements need to be made. I know, I know, I can make an easy argument for why user suggestions are not a good way of figuring this out, but, at the same time, using a service seen by most filtering software as "spyware" is probably not a good idea. In general, people don't want to be tracked. They're just silly that way, you know?
So, in the end, yes, I fear that Six Apart, for all their benevolent words about not changing the things that made LJ great, are definitely wanting to make it more like these "social networking" sites that are the rage today. Just my two cents worth. Maybe, in the end, I'll find I like it better, but for now, the changes and attitudes aren't making me smile. No, I'm not going anywhere, but I hope I never feel like saying "there goes the neighbourhood."
P.S. - I am really sick of hearing all this brouhaha about LJ and breastfeeding icons. It's very simple, really: there is a standard for nudity in default icons, and if an icon violates that standard, it will be dealt with. This does not constitute an attack against breastfeeding any more than them dealing with an icon of a naked chef would be an attack against cooking. They are following the standard for nudity of the country they are based in. If you don't like that standard, then work on changing the standard, not bitching at a company who is adhering to it.
P.P.S. - re: HitBox: if you don't want to be tracked by HitBox on LJ, do the following: Head over to LJ's Admin Console and put set opt_exclude_stats 1 in the box and hit "execute." Voilà, no more HitBox.