Valuing the right things

Chris Aldridge queried my current approach in making the blog an #Indieweb property but telling people to reply on Medium - it's anathema to the ethos of ownership.

My response was that the blog is in transition, moving from one phase to another.

And I think a lot of the confusion is down to value: what is the value associated with what we do on the web? It's not always obvious, not the same for everyone, and not even the same for the same person at different times.

Stats and reach vs ownership and control.

When I first started blogging properly in 2003 I had total control, total ownership, and a static IP address from my ISP meant it was easy to self host at home.

I had the blog on SharePoint running on a server sat in my dining room. All my email was handled by my own Exchange Server - again at home - the MX records pointing to my static IP.

Although I had total and full control I didn't really value it; I was doing it because it was the geeky thing to do. I valued the nerd-factor.

I learnt quite a lot though.

When SharePoint was no longer a viable blogging platform (was it really ever?) I moved to WordPress. My wife had been trying to get me to switch for a while but I had been so invested in my own setup and mistook the value in what I had done technically for what mattered.

At that point the value was actually in having a modern, purpose built blogging platform.

Blogging was (and largely still is) a numbers game and a few lucky people became six figure bloggers - they were there at the beginning and seized an opportunity to turn it into a meta business - making money blogging about making money from blogging.

Then the rise of social meant that numbers were more important than ever. Reach, influence, followers, all these things were purely about increasing the what and bypassing the why.

We got sucked in.

When social really started catching on around 2008 I became involved in a lot of very interesting conversations and my "online stock" was reasonably high in certain circles. But everything I wrote about and stood for was predicated on promoting the mainstream adoption of social.

Guess what? Social got adopted, and how! I became lost and didn't know where to take what I was doing.

People drifted away, moved on to the next thing, while the conversation moved from blogs to social networks.

Rather than realise the value of what I had I lamented what I had lost so the drive behind what I was doing changed. I placed more value on the audience than control, first with Google Plus and then (to a lesser degree) with Medium.

That's not to say there isn't value in those places but the relative value is so individual that we can't discount things completely.

In an attempt to recreate the audience I got away from what made blogging special and I'm not too proud to admit it. This realisation was key to understanding what I should be appreciating.

It's taken me a while to get here but I'm glad I've arrived.