Neil Macy

Owning my own content

I really enjoy writing blog posts. I'm also one of those weirdos who likes writing documentation for my code. I like that it makes me think more than just superficially about a subject, like how a thing works or what my opinion on it is. If I'm going to put something in writing, I have to get it right, or at least makes it defensible. And that makes me put much more effort in to the writing, compared to a social network where content is essentially ephemeral, so quality matters much less.

So I'm trying to write more blog posts, longer posts, rather than just quickly sharing thoughts on social media. And I'm liking it.

But it's not just about writing blog posts any more. This year, I've started moving away from third party services where I can, and looking at what I can own for myself. And I really like where that process is going.

Owning the content

An important aspect of having a blog is the ownership it gives me over the stuff I produce online. I don't have any worries about changing social network, and having to migrate or export my posts. I don't worry about a service being taken over or sunsetted, and possibly losing everything. It all just lives here.

And I don't want to create content for other sites to advertise against any more either. Goodreads, Letterboxd, Twitter, Instagram, whatever else. I don't want to share those links around. I don't want to have various things living in random corners of the Internet. I want my "content" in my place. And a nice benefit of that is that nobody can get rich off of me by turning me into part of a content farm that doesn't pay its contributors but still aims for the kind of ad revenue that makes its founder a billionaire.

I want my personal site to be my source of truth. That way I can share a link wherever it's appropriate, and now I'm completely responsible for what's there. And perhaps one day I'll look at building some ActivityPub or micropub service, or integrate something like Webmentions, to embrace the Fediverse or IndieWeb and add a social layer. But what matters most to me isn't the social element, which is essentially the comments section of a blog. It's the content itself.

Owning the appearance

I love being able to style my site and my content however I want. And I'm well aware that the style is really basic at the moment. But I'm getting the opportunity to learn more about CSS, to improve the appearance and style things how I want them to look. I couldn't do that on Twitter or Letterboxd.

Owning my own projects

I love what I'm doing with my albums and books projects this year, tracking my listening and reading here. Over the years, I can build my own archive, like and GoodReads but owned by me. Here. Rather than having some other network to contribute content to, and manage.

I can show as much content as I want, and completely control my own privacy too. I'm sharing what I want to, and don't have to worry about what else is being gathered.

And I can present the projects however I want. Make a library that covers all my favourite media, see challenges for a year, show how books and music relate to each other rather than being siloed. There are so many possibilities.

I've mentioned Instagram in this post already. I stopped posting to Instagram, in large part because I don't want to be part of that service's monetisation. But I do enjoy taking photos and sharing them, and while I don't have any photography here yet, I'm looking forward to one day working on a fun way to share them on my site, while learning about how to present them in HTML and CSS.

Owning my own vanity

I love not worrying about likes, retweets etc. I have no analytics on my blog at present. Maybe nobody reads it? That's fine! It's for me.

Related reading:

Matthias Ott: The Year of the Personal Website

Published on 21 February 2023