Own It, Have it Reflect You

December 31, 2022 Blogging Data Monique Judge Kashmir Hill

Bring back personal blogging” argues Monque Judge on The Verve, a plea to revert from the current Web 2.0 to some some Web 1.0 goodness. This kind of article tends to appear every couple of years, but there is a point I find very convincing: Blogging (or whatever you’d like to call it) ensures that we stay in control of our own data:

The biggest reason personal blogs need to make a comeback is a simple one: we should all be in control of our own platforms. If what is happening on Twitter hasn’t demonstrated it, our relationship with these social media platforms is tenuous at best. The thing we are using to build our popularity today could very well be destroyed and disappear from the internet tomorrow, and then what?

It sometimes feels like archiving is a lost art—we all feed social networks and online platforms with unprecedented amounts of data, hardly accounting for the fact everything might vanish when the ownership of a network changes (as seems likely with Twitter’s ongoing nosedive) or the business model collapses.1

Many—if not most—of the online platforms and networks I’ve ever used on the internet have stopped existing or withered away, something that is strangely commonplace on the web. And yet we hardly stop to think that everything we share might simply get lost over time.

Invoking an archive” for the ephemera we share online may feel like overkill: Yet even the quick, off-the-cuff ideas and comments, the visual impressions, jokes, memes all add up to something important. Together they draw a picture of our individual perceptions and preoccupations, of what we deemed important at this turbulent time.

Whenever I read history books, it surprised me to learn how many people used to keep diaries and wrote extensive letters that documented what they were thinking at a given time. Today, I can’t think of a single person who does that—countless thoughts and observations are living on social media network’s servers instead, and all could be gone one day.

Judge ends with a plea for the new year that I can absolutely get behind:

(…) Carve your space out on the web. Tell your stories, build your community, and talk to your people. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It doesn’t need to duplicate any space that already exists on the web — in fact, it shouldn’t. This is your creation. It’s your expression. It should reflect you.

  1. Kashmir Hill makes a similar point in her article Your Memories. Their Cloud. She talks about the fragility of digital files, and warns us to keep our own archive rather than relying exclusively on some internet company’s cloud. Today’s monoliths are tomorrow’s failed tech companies.↩︎

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