Categories
Blogs and blogging Publishing Social Web

The blog helped build the Web, not break it

I read some wonderful ideas about personal sites as cultivated digital gardens over the weekend (here, here, here, and here), and one post that was linked to in one of these posts caught my attention. It was Amy Hoy’s post titled “Stacking the Bricks: How the Blog Broke the Web“.

We built every new page by hand. When we had more than one web page, we built the navigation by hand. We managed our Table of Contents by hand. We broke out our calculators to code boundaries for our image maps. We talked unironically about “hyperlinks.”

Stacking the Bricks: How the Blog Broke the Web

I remember those early days of the public Web, with the myriad flashing banners, and GIFs all over the place. It wasn’t quite as romantic back then, hacking together sites with the available HTML elements, and trying not to go too crazy with the flashy graphics.

People built sites like that because that was pretty much the only way to do it. It wasn’t easy to build a site. Domains were freakishly expensive, bandwidth was terrible by today’s standards, and building some sort of social fabric for the Web back then was daunting. As Amy explained –

The early web itself, of course, was pretty exclusive: first, you had to be online, then you had to know HTML, and that wasn’t enough, you also had to have a hosting account, and know how to use it. There was no royal road. Each would-be Netizen had to bushwhack their own path.

Blogs changed all of that, and gave more people a much easier way to build their own space on the Web. Sure, many looked pretty similar because templates and themes were a little sparse, but these were spaces that non-coders could create (mostly), and make their own.

Sure, it’s fun to get your hands dirty with HTML, CSS, and other cool Web tools (and there are remarkable sites built on open standards, and that don’t run on CMSes like WordPress), but that’s not a viable option for millions of people who are online today.

No, the blog didn’t break the Web, it changed the Web. It turned the Web into a platform for just about everyone with a smartish device, and a decent Internet connection.

Not all the content on the modern Web is good. There’s plenty of trashy content out there. There’s even more wonderful content that people invest so much effort, creativity, and passion into.

There are no more quirky homepages.

There are no more amateur research librarians.

All thanks to a quirky bit of software produced to alleviate the pain of a tiny subset of a very small audience.

That’s not cool at all.

I disagree. The Web that blogs made possible is not what Hoy describes as the “old web, the cool web, the weird web, the hand-organized web”. It’s much more than that. It’s inspiring.


Disclosure

I work for Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, and home of many incredible WordPress developers. I wrote this post using the block editor that I believe is borderline revolutionary.

I’ve also been blogging (erratically) for more than 16 years. So, yes, I’m biased towards blogs.

Categories
Blogs and blogging Policy issues Web/Tech

Your journey into the Personal-Website-Verse

I really enjoyed reading Matthias Ott’s post titled Into the Personal-Website-Verse. It’s an essay about why it’s so important to have your own space on the Web, and why IndieWeb is a great way to get there. It’s well worth the read.

There are many reasons to have your own site, at your own domain, that you control. Aside from retaining effective control over your content, the risk of entrusting our stories, and our content to centralised services like social networks is arguably greater:

One day, Twitter and other publishing platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Medium will indeed die, like so many sites before them. And every time this happens, we lose most of the content we created and with it a fair amount of our collective cultural history.

Matthias Ott

There are so many options for creating a personal site including WordPress.com*, Micro.blog, GitHub Pages, Squarespace, and many more. I prefer platforms that let me take my content out, and move it to another platform if I decide to. I think you should too.

*And yes, as you know, I’m partial to WordPress as a long-time user, and because I work for Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com.

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Caleb Jones
Categories
Blogs and blogging Design Policy issues Publishing Social Web Web/Tech

Make your Web

I enjoyed Tantek Çelik‘s recent talk at beyond tellerrand // DÜSSELDORF 2019. If you’re interested in the IndieWeb, or just curious why having a personal site is still so important, make yourself a beverage and enjoy:

Featured image: IndieWebCamp Berlin 2018 | Day 1 by tollwerk GmbH, licensed CC BY NC SA 2.0

Categories
Blogs and blogging Social Web

Another reason to have your own website

Brad Frost wrote about the value of having your own website the other day. This quote stands out:

Writing on your own website associates your thoughts and ideas with you as a person. Having a distinct website design helps strengthen that association.

Brad Frost

I had a conversation with someone recently about their site. They decided to give up their site, and their domain because they use social media for everything. I had to pause for a moment when I heard that.

As useful as social media is to so many people, entrusting your online identity, and content wholly to social media is quite a gamble.

Thank you to Manton Reece for pointing out Brad’s post.

Categories
Blogs and blogging

Why we should return to personal websites (Reason 1220)

I enjoyed “We Should Replace Facebook With Personal Websites“. It speaks to what I’m partially aiming for with this blog.

My original sin wasn’t making a Facebook account, it was abandoning my own website that I controlled (the original site was hosted on Tripod, but if I had to do it all over again, I’d pay for web hosting.) All these years later, maybe it’s time to update Jason’s Site.

Jason Koebler

Too many people were in too much of a rush to abandon their personal sites in favour of Twitter, Facebook, and/or something else.

The social Web could have been so much more diverse, and open if we hadn’t.