Response to my Friend D’Arcy, 2010 Style

In an old school move, I started to leave a comment on D’Arcy Norman’s post and it turned into much more than I expected … that hasn’t happened to me in years. D, I know you’ll forgive me for leaving it here, in my own space 😉

If people are to manage their own content, forming their digital identities, they need a way to host software and content that doesn’t require obscure and detailed technical knowledge. Us early adopters are not normal. We’ve been so close to technologies, for so long, that we forget what it’s like to be new to the stuff. Or not to live and breathe tech every day. Most people are not like us. They don’t know what HTTP is. It’s just some silly letters before the address of a website. They don’t know what DNS is. They don’t know what FTP is. They don’t know what SSH is. Or MySQL. Or PHP. Or Perl. etc. And they shouldn’t have to know these things in order to be full and meaningful participants in online discourse.

D’Arcy’s post is great on so many levels and really shines with the comments, especially the ones from his parents. I have been thinking about all of the things he brings up again so much recently. I have arrived at the place where I can’t worry about where to host my stuff anymore — none of it really seems to matter in the grand scheme of things. If I host my own WordPress at Dreamhost I am paying them over a hundred bucks a year … if I host it at TypePad I am paying them over a hundred bucks a year … if I host it all at I am paying them over a hundred bucks a year. I’ve been publishing content online for close to a decade and that amount of “stuff” carries a cost.

What I am arriving at is this simple and disgusting fact — it doesn’t matter. With that said I need places to publish and manage my stuff. I pay Flickr and am happy to do so because if I didn’t pay for it Yahoo would revoke it like they are talking about doing with delicious. I pay TypePad because I trust them to let me write and export stuff. I pay DreamHost because my ego demands I own and not because I really need to host my own blog. My online life is getting expensive.

I have moved my content from blogger to my own host to to over the last ten years only to come to realize that at the end of the day I rally just want a place to write, share, and connect with others. My audience is me and those who care to show up. I need a space to reflect and collect … I am not a business.

Is it really important to have a domain of one’s own in this day and age? Is facebook evil? Is twitter stealing my identity?

I don’t have answers and my opinion has become lost in the noise of the Internet. My advice is to follow the people you trust in your community and write where it feels right to you. And don’t be sad when your name isn’t on the A-list … because at the end of the day if the notion of keeping track of your thoughts is important then it doesn’t matter where you deposit them. As long as you can record your thoughts, get them out, and move to the next thing you are in good shape.

6 thoughts on “Response to my Friend D’Arcy, 2010 Style

  1. I too am trying to think less about where and how and more about what and why.
    What are we doing?
    Putting words to our experience.
    Why are we doing it?
    Because we are human beings: animals with a wonderful ability to use words to articulate a meaningful life with one another.

  2. I can’t begin to estimate how many times I’ve gone back to either my PSU note taking blog or my personal blog to find something I wrote about years ago. Just yesterday, I dug through my old posts to find some Little Big Planet stuff I penned, as I was writing about the Little Big Planet 2. I have a feeling this will happen more and more as my content base gets bigger and bigger.

  3. I struggle with “who gives a shit?” as well. On the one hand, it seems like the only people who are even remotely aware of the importance of URL permanence, and of archiving, etc… are the early adopter geeks. Dad doesn’t know or care about that. He just wants to send updates to his friends (via email, often through attached Word .doc files, making me cringe uncontrollably).
    I think the primary users of my blog’s archives are myself (I search it regularly for tidbits), and spammers. What’s the need to maintain a public archive for that?
    Which makes me think “what are we really doing?” Is posting to a blog an exercise in content production, or is it a social act, of connecting and relating? If it’s content production, then url permanence becomes critical. If it’s a social act, urls and infrastructure matter much less – ephemery is ok – as long as people keep up to date with where you’re posting stuff at the moment.
    As an aside – I was sure I’d subscribed to your typepad feed. Turns out I hadn’t (or had I stayed subscribed to – did that forward to here at one point? not sure if it does anymore. what else have I missed? I wouldn’t have seen this post if you hadn’t tweeted it…) There’s an argument for permanence there – if you’d stayed on your own domain, and just mapped whatever service you’re using onto it, I wouldn’t have lost the feed.

  4. There in lies a big problem, for me at least — I didn’t know how to move to TypePad AND keep it on my domain. I’ve tried to move my domain over to TP, but DreamHost doesn’t seem to like/allow that and I fall down over the technical details of those types of things. I think in lots of ways that is one of the primary reasons newbies don’t want to spin up their own installs — it is frustratingly difficult and can be overwhelming challenge.,, and the emergence of sites like Tumblr and Posterous just make it so damn easy. But what if they go away?
    Sure I had to bail on my WP site as it just got to be more than I wanted to deal with. The problem you had with finding me again is an issues I wrestled with before I made the switch, but the trade offs were just too good to not make the switch. I’m a lot like Bartman in that this space is really a personal archive … I don’t get many comments anymore and I doubt my writing resonates with people like I used to hope. Most of the time I am writing to put my own markers on my own thinking … if people show up and engage in a conversation I am thrilled, but that isn’t the primary point of all this.
    Both my 4 and 9 year olds have Posterous sites that they post to from their iPod Touches … blows my mind. If I would have to do installs and manage it that wouldn’t be the case. In their future, paying for a domain of one’s own isn’t likely … they’ll publish on the service that is easiest.
    With all that said, I would like to be able to make sure all the old links redirect and that people who subscribed to my old feed can find the new one easily, but those are things I can’t easily accomplish. Damn, just writing is hard enough! I did miss seeing your comments though!

  5. Evan has a WordPress site that has been pretty much abandoned (I keep updating WP, just in case…), and a Posterous site that he regularly posts photos to. Posterous is pretty much exactly what he needs.

  6. I use posterous for my stuff. I too don’t want to bother maintaining my own instance of WP and posterous has killer features for what I want to do. I did write my own exporter so I have a local copy of all my data, though.
    URL permanence? That is nice, but right now I just don’t care. Eventually I’ll move all the old stuff I’ve posted at the many blogs I have had over the past ten years into this one, so I can have once place to go looking. This once place will move over the years. That is just the way it is. My content is nomadic.

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