Discovering the IndieWeb

Self-publishing is so 2004. Or so I thought, until a few weeks ago.

Since announcing the Homebrew Website Club in Barnsley, it’s reminded me of the importance of self-publishing. So few of us do it anymore. It’s seen as uncool, and blogs are old fashioned. Everybody’s tweeting, updating their stories, adding to The Gram.

All that content you’re adding to those other platforms is owned by those platforms. All those things—photos, status updates, videos—are owned by somebody else other than you, and they’ll never be owned by you. You’re creating content for another organisation, and Twitter, Instagsram, Medium and Facebook all willingly accept it (unless you’ve got an opinion they don’t agree with).

Sure, you can take your content out of those platforms if you try hard enough, but if one of those platforms died tomorrow you wouldn’t have a platform any longer.

Also, I need to at least have an acceptable website if I’m going to organise something called Homebrew Website Club.

Preying on your laziness

I’ve been too lazy with my desire to self-publish, to keep my own part of the internet updated. I’ve claimed I haven’t had the time to blog/make my own website/update my own website/insert next excuse, so I—like everybody else—turned to using Medium to post my opinions and Twitter to post my short-form stuff.

That’s what all these platforms rely on. They preyed on my laziness, knowing I couldn’t be bothered to maintain my own website.

Back in the game

Now I feel re-invigorated. After seeing so many examples of people’s sprawling personal websites (Jamie’s was one of the first I came across and got jealous of), and after being introduced to the IndieWeb, I feel very charged up to finally make a respectable personal website.

I’ve worked on the web professionally for over a decade and I’ve never managed to put together a proper website that I’ve maintained and not just binned every five minutes. Yes, I’ve been making websites for over a decade and never managed to make one for myself.

I’ve been cobbling for over a decade, and my children have never had any shoes. It’s probably about time I fixed that.

Discovering IndieWeb

In the process of discovering Homebrew Website Club, I’ve discovered the IndieWeb. It’s basically a group of people dedicated to controlling their online presence through their own website.

A running principle through lots of the IndieWeb is documenting their own internet usage through their own website. Lots of them publish their tweets on their own website first, then send them to Twitter afterwards (something I’ve discovered is called POSSE).

The overriding idea behind a lot of the IndieWeb thinking is that a service you’re using could disappear, and it’s important to own your own content on your own website. I love this idea.

Owning your content

I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for trying out lots of different services, and as such a lot of my content is scattered all around the internet in sporadic places that’s even hard for me to find, let alone anybody else.

I’ve got blog posts scattered across Blogger, WordPress and many other since defunct personal websites. Some of those blog posts I’ve still got kicking around in folders on my computer, never published.

I’ve never truly given myself the opportunity to own my content because I’ve never kept a website for long enough.

I’ve realised that it’s actually pretty important for you to own your own content. To have it sat on a website that you control and know will still be around in a few years time is pretty powerful.

This article also touches on the idea of taking the power back of your own content. It’s an interesting read.