I feel like I have been sleeping for the last decade. I started my career steeped in Open Source, but then I, like most other people, got lazy and let companies like Google and Yahoo do the heavy lifting. This actually worked quite nice for a while, and it even got to a point that I was considering abandoning this site in favor of just posting on social networks. Abandoning a personally owned and managed web presence and going with a social network is not without precedence. The tech writer Mike Elgan has done this and it is working quite well for him. But then Google decided to shutdown Reader, which was probably my most used application, and that is when I started doing some rethinking on this subject.
To be fair, Google isn’t the first to disappoint me by shutting down services. Yahoo really started the trend way back with Yahoo 360. Of course then came the big Delicious sunsetting scare, another service at the time I used quite heavily.
Luckily a couple voices in the wilderness have been trying to wake us all up about this for quite some time. I have always had Jeremy Keith in the back of my head shouting “No More Sharecropping!”, of course I wasn’t listening at the time. Another persistent voice in all of this has been Tantek Çelik, who has been fostering a number of projects and events to evangelize this idea such as Micro formats and, most importantly to me, IndieWebCamp.
The IndieWebCamp site is where I started to get things back on track. Go through the resources in the nav and explore. Don’t be afraid to take baby steps to regain your platform independence and begin to own your content again. For instance I would love to get all of my content into an hAtom formatted text file (I think plain text is the most portable and maintainable format in the long run — harkening back to my Unix days – see The Unix Philosophy for more), but no really mature projects exist, and it takes time to build this stuff yourself. I am already familiar with WordPress, so I am starting there.
I have now started to slowly work on implementing POSSE, Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere for my content. This is a slow and tough process. Companies like Google (recent trend), Facebook, and Twitter do conspire against you from fully implementing POSSE. But, in the end, it’s better to not have to worry about growing found of a service only to have it, and often times your data, disappear with it in a few years.
The side affect of owning your owning content and controlling what you do with it, is that it become much more shareable. You don’t have to have a Facebook or Google+ account to read this post. It is freely shared and anyone can read it. I can archive it and access it 20 years from now, because it is a portable format (at least it will be when I am done).
I suppose you might call this a Declaration of Content Independence.