Prior to diving headfirst into the idea of taking back control over my content online, I held a number of reservations about the ongoing process of true ownership. I’m the kind of guy that likes to let other people worry about things when I can and, despite being a fully capable systems administrator, I generally avoid running my own personal servers, hosting accounts, or platforms. I have, traditionally, outsourced this job to hosted platforms like Blogger, Flickr, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, and countless others. Only MySpace has failed me so far, erasing much of my early adulthood from the internet. Why should I turn this control over to smaller teams of developers that may not remain motivated to maintain the projects I’ve, now, come to rely on?
Setting up Known on server reminded me of some of the exciting things about owning and hosting your own content. I appreciate the fact that I have full control over my content, where and how it is stored, and can freely move it between providers, platforms, and software as I desire. On the other hand, I’m worried about the long-term survivability of this as a whole. With Known, specifically, I noticed that many of the plugins required for syndication and backfeeding are either maintained by extremely small groups of people that do not update them frequently (the Twitter plugin, for example), or others that require non-monetary motivation to keep up their service (like Brid.gy, for example). While it is great to see community-driven projects and services like these, I worry about waking up one morning to find that my content no longer syndicates or talks to other services. This is not wholly a terrible thing for someone that owns their own content. It is far better than waking up to find that Twitter or Facebook have experienced major issues or shut down, rendering many years of content lost forever. What it does do is break that link between the IndieWeb and the World Wide Web. At least for now I believe this link to be crucial to the success of the IndieWeb movement.
Most of my online friends and acquaintances will never understand or participate in the IndieWeb, and so I require a bridge between these worlds. On one side I choose what content to post and how it is stored, and it exists mainly on an island that few visit regularly. On the other side is nearly everyone I know, blissfully ignorant of my real home on the web and unable to see any content shared there without manual intervention or working plugins.
This does not all seem bad, though. Maintaining control will require more attention be placed on managing my content, and this time must come from somewhere. I imagine that I’ll slowly begin using social media less, writing more, and learning more about how to develop solutions to problems that arise within my setup. I look forward to the challenge, learning experience, extra writing time, and to hopefully contributing something nice to the IndieWeb community.
Some of my favorite memories of writing online were during the early days of Blogger, prior to the Google acquisition. Personal journals were still a fairly new idea, with fairly few people publishing them. We were a community of people and of writers and we had a connection to each other and a desire to share, help, and enjoy unique content online. This feels like that.
Do you have any thoughts? Ideas? Encouragement? Suggestions? I’m interested to hear them!