kgautreaux/blog

An ocean of noise

Rumination on the nature of this site

The nature of personal websites has changed. It is raining outside and I’ve had a few minutes to think about ideas that have been banging around in my brain.

For a while a personal site was a place where you tinkered with this brand new concept of “HTML”. It resulted in a lot of horrible looking pages with <blink></blink> tags and animated gifs. I’m looking at you geocities, even though you no longer exist. But the content of these pages was usually about portions of your identity that you wanted to share. Prior to the advent of blogs a personal site was about a single subject, usually the author.

In the heyday of personal weblogs that changed. We now still had personal sites but they were essentially event driven. I went on vacation and took some pictures, that’s a blog post. This was fine for a while but eventually people realized that crafting long form prose or writing HTML to place pictures on your personal weblog was not only time consuming but redundant. Shouldn’t we build a community site to share all of our pictures? Flickr. Shouldn’t we build a community site to share all of our video? YouTube. Shouldn’t we build a community site for one-liners, rhetorical questions, and link sharing? Twitter. What if we want to write more than 140 characters? Tumblr. Shouldn’t somebody combine all of the above with targeted advertising and a questionable privacy policy? Facebook.

The original point was to share our thoughts, experiences, and ideas. Eventually anything that made that harder was just artifice that crumbled. Thus, busy people don’t spend 10 minutes crafting a Wordpress blog post with pictures. Instead they send them directly to Flickr from their phone and then let Google Buzz or Twitter federate the posting to their friends.

All this is warmup to say I still believe that a personal website has cachet, but it is not about sharing, it is about identity. I own this site and it has information about me that I won’t allow on a community site like Facebook because I need to be in control of that information. If I need to prove my identity online I should be able to reference this site as though it were my driver’s license or fingerprint. In the coming months and years there will be a hard fought battle over online identity and whether you control it directly through your own site or via proxy on a site like Facebook.

This is a circuitous way to say this site will be much more about shameless self promotion and less about photos. Thanks for listening.