When I look at my posts on my blog from 11 years ago I feel as though I’ve lost something vital to my writing because of social media services. My posts on my site resonate with me much more than my posts on Facebook do. And that’s assuming that I can even find my posts on Facebook. What I realize is that I no longer feel like a creator, I’m back to feeling like a passive user. It’s not that I don’t make things and put them on the Internet, but I don’t feel as though I own them. They don’t feel as though they are mine. I am making content that either is transitory by design in the case of microblogging, or enriching a company’s product. The feeling of ownership is a subtle and tricky idea, especially when it comes to things on the Internet, but I miss it.
In the early days of the Internet, there was no widely used thing like Facebook where you could share whatever it is you wanted to share. You had to build a website, either by hand in HTML (which I did several times) or, later, using some sort of content management system (of which I tried many over the years).
I remember when my son was born and my wife and we wanted to share photos with family and friends. The way I achieved this back then was to set up a hidden URL on my website that I didn’t publish anywhere except in email to those I wanted to share it with. The photos were on my server and I could easily take them down anytime I wanted. Obviously my family and friends could have reshared them, but in those days, that was much more difficult.
These days, of course, we’d use Facebook or a text message. Mostly because that’s what everyone we know uses and convincing them to go use some other site they weren’t already using is just too high a barrier to entry.
I’ve been thinking lately, perhaps along similar lines as my friend Isaac that I quoted above. While I don’t see myself necessarily getting rid of social networking altogether (though the mix of services I use will change over time), I do want to feel closer to that which I create. Rather than simply pumping content into the various social media machines, with no expectation of seeing the content again, I want it all come from a single canonical location where I can take back of the control from the Twitters and Facebooks of the world.
In practice, this is going to be tough. Even this blog post is coming from a platform on a server someone else maintains, but at least 10 Centuries aligns a lot closer to my philosophy (and I pay to boot). Version 3 of the 10 Centuries platform (hopefully out soon) will bring me closer to where I want to be.
I have no issue federating some of my content to other platforms. That said, the critical stuff I want stored on my primary, central platform, whatever that ultimately will be. That way I have some assurances that I can access it again whenever I feel the need.