Last week, in a post talking about the IndieWeb, I shared my concerns with Mike Elgan‘s “Blogs of August”, in which he encourages individuals to blog exclusively on Google+ for the month of August. I’m happy that the conversation has continued over the last week in various places like Copyblogger and on Google+ itself.
In my post last week, I mentioned:
To be fair, Mike personally makes a distinction between what a blog is, separate from the content management tool used to write. However, I don’t entirely follow his rationale…
Yesterday, Mike clarified his meaning here in his post What is a blog, anyway?, and I now better understand where he his coming from. In a nutshell, Mike uses the term “blogging” to refer to personal content, and “publishing” to refer to professional content. I think this is an awfully fine line to draw, and I don’t agree with his choice of vocabulary, but I do now understand it.
And with that understanding, I’d like to withdraw my statement that Mike’s publishing habits are hypocritical to what he is recommending to others. Using his definitions of “blogging” and “publishing”, I do see now that he is indeed practicing what he is preaching.
That said, I still believe that using Google+ as your primary identity and sole blogging platform is harmful, especially for those that have already expended the effort to set up a personal web presence. But instead of talking more about the dangers of silo-living, in the spirit of Brett Slatkin’s post, Focusing on the Positives, let me tell you just a few of the reasons why I have my own website.
Freedom of Choice
I have hosted my primary identity online on a domain that I control for 11+ years (8 years on willnorris.com, and three years on a previous domain). In that decade, I have used at least four different content management systems (homegrown, blosxom, Movable Type, and WordPress), and have hosted it on close to a dozen different servers. I’ve also started using Jekyll for some auxiliary content, though I haven’t moved my main site there. But the point is, I can if and when I want. Because I own the domain, I can change anything about my site that I want and the URLs stay exactly the same. And even if I used a hosted system like Blogger or WordPress.com, as long as I’m using them with a domain I control, I still enjoy exactly the same freedom of choice.
Single point of contact
If I ever print personal business cards again (which I doubt), I’ll likely just put “willnorris.com” on it and nothing else. That’s all I need to give people, regardless of how they want to contact or connect with me. Phone, email, Twitter, Google+? It’s all here. When the next communication service du jour comes out, I can simply add that too. And again, because my domain is tied to me personally, rather than any individual service, there’s no need for it to ever change.
A place to call home
This is my website. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My website is more than just a blog, and it has changed over the years. I’ve used my site as a personal portfolio, as a playground to experiment with different technologies, and as a place to host non-blog content like photos and slide decks. It’s whatever I want it to be at the time, but it’s always mine. As Brett puts it, “this is where you’ll be able to find me over time and space”.