Are blogs still relevant as personal sharing platforms?

This is a repost from my Tumblr blog and was originally published on 11 February 2013

I’ve been thinking about blogs’ relevance again. My Squarespace subscription for my main blog is about to come to an end and as awesome as Squarespace is as a platform, I don’t use that site nearly often enough to justify the $80-something cost to renew it for another year. Particularly when I could set up a WordPress site for almost nothing on a server I already have available to me for hosting. Update: As you can see, I completed the migration to this blog anyway. There are a number of broken links and images after the export from Squarespace and I’ll sort those out in time, probably.

I have my blog archive going back to 2004 when I started blogging and I want to locate that somewhere so I started migrating my blog content yesterday and redirecting my domain to my hosted space. It’s a bit of a process and there are definitely glitches in the migration process. The hassle of the move has brought me back to a few stray thoughts I had about current social services like Google+ and Facebook and about a blog’s relevance as a personal sharing platform.

One of the things I love about using Facebook (and, to a lesser extent primarily because so few friends and family members are using it, Google+) is that it is possible to share selectively with specific groups of friends/connections. That makes Facebook and Google+ really useful. There are times when I just want to share something with friends and family and other times when I am happy to share stuff publicly (even though many of my connections probably wish I wouldn’t). The lists and circles functionalities in Facebook and Google+, respectively, make that really easy.

Blogs don’t really support that sort of selective sharing. You are either sharing publicly (and possibly replying on obscurity for some privacy) or you resort to posting stuff that users with passwords or access to restricted posts can see. Lists and circles are far more dynamic and flexible but the disadvantage of relying on Facebook and Google+ is that we really don’t have all that much control over those platforms and years of contributions and shares could disappear for a number of reasons ranging from a big crash to an exploit to the service provider cutting you off for even more reasons.

At least with your own blog, you can have more control over your content, back it up, move it around in a meaningful format and set up shop elsewhere. Sort of. That said, unless you have your own server in your house in a secure space, the risk of your data disappearing one day exists in varying degrees anyway. My host could take my site down one day. Tumblr could remove this blog and if I haven’t backed my data up, well I would be a bit upset at losing all my stuff.

So, if control is truly an illusion, are blogs still relevant as personal sharing platforms in a digital world which lends itself more to selective and flexible sharing? Is it worth going to the effort of relocating my blog or should I just archive my digital tracks from the last 8 years or so and share in the distributed moment?