Owning it

In a conversation on micro.blog (also a comment thread here Eivind Hjertnes asked why I chose to microblog on WordPress rather than using a hosted account at micro dot blog.

The initial answer was simple - I've had this WordPress blog since 2008 so it just made sense. But, as I've said before, it goes way beyond that and is very much the driving factor behind a lot of what I've been doing lately in culling various accounts.

Ownership and control.

When I first started blogging I was running it from home on an old machine that also housed my Exchange Server. Being able to say that I owned and controlled everything, even down to the hardware, was great.

I may have moved to a hosted installation of WordPress, so no longer owned the hardware, but still have full control of how it looks and works, and total ownership of the content.

From late 2013 to early 2016 I became a "social blogger" writing on Google+ or Medium but, looking back, I realise this was just because I wanted a different approach and thought a new platform would give me that.

I was wrong.

Rebooting the blog was one of the best things I've ever done, and microblogging alongside longer posts has given me the new approach I sought.

Social blogging may have given me a larger audience (at least on Google+) and I may have convinced myself I didn't care about ownership, but nothing could actually have been further from the truth.

I was throwing hundreds of thousands of words away in search of validation. It's just lucky I wrote a lot of them offline so still have a copy.

You're never sure what's going to happen with words you don't control. Medium has flip-flopped on different business models. Google+ radically changed its approach after failing to take on Facebook. Facebook itself makes constant changes to the news feed and its priorities.

And just look at Huffington Post shutting down its contributor platform - designed to give thousands a voice but have now been suddenly silenced with nothing to show for it.

In response to the news, Fred Wilson said it best:

"I would never outsource my content to some third party. I blog on my own domain using open source software..."

He says it feels great to own his archive, brand, content, and (most importantly) himself. And that's exactly why I returned to the blog, why I have shut down my social media accounts, and why I will never write elsewhere again.

People may get hung up on the specifications, tricks and tools of the #indieweb and how many you are using but that's all they are, tools. The real essence of the indieweb is precisely what Fred describes - maintaining your independence.

Everything else is a bonus.

  1. clreed87 says: #
    @colinwalker I totally agree. I love taking pictures but I never post them anywhere because I never got into Instagram and Twitter never felt like the right place for that. Posting on my blog always seemed like a good idea, but who wants to go to somebodies site to look at their pictures. But posting them as micro blogs and having them feed into Micro.blog is really the best of both worlds. I own the posts on my blog but they still get to go into a Twitter/Instagram like timeline.
    →†’
  2. manton says: #
    @colinwalker Good post, but I disagree slightly with your definition of ownership. Ownership = domain names. If you have your own domain name and a copy of the content, that’s ownership, and Micro.blog provides that. (Control is something else and more relevant to WordPress.)
    →†’
  3. colinwalker says: #
    @manton I’m not going to argue with your there and that’s part of why I said ownership and control. Micro.blog is a host just like my WordPress host – the degree of control varies – but the ownership is just the same.
    →†’
  4. simonmumbles says: #
    @colinwalker I’ve seen this sentiment rise up as Micro.blog has become more active recently, which I don’t think is surprising. Whether bloggers have social media accounts or not I do think it is important to think of them much more as extensions to what you create, rather than the core.
    →†’