In the earlier days of the web, we always published to our own web site. If you weren’t happy with your web host, or they went out of business, you could move your files and your domain name, and nothing would break.
Today, most writing instead goes into a small number of centralized social networking sites, where you can’t move your content, advertisements and fake news are everywhere, and if one of these sites fails, your content disappears from the internet. Too many sites have gone away and taken our posts and photos with them.
The quote above comes from the Kickstarter blurb for micro.blog, where developer Manton Reece has created a service that allows you to create microblog posts (i.e. like tweets) that are actually hosted on your own website, and are fed in to a centralised feed using RSS.
Reading about it (via Daring Fireball) immediately led me to the second Build reference in a week: Jeremy Keith’s All Our Yesterdays, which – for me personally – really hammered home the point that the Internet is a really unstable place.
Much teenage creativity, on my part, had been poured in to writing nonsense on a collection of Geocities sites – and then in October 2009, Yahoo pulled the plug and the lights went out on those and millions of other websites.
See also: Myspace; Bebo; Microsoft Live Spaces; Facebook Notes (ok, still there, but hard to find); and so on. Most of what I personally added to these platforms had no value whatsoever: but I still felt like it was mine. It followed that part of the motivation to returning to hosting my own blog was the determination to be in control: the readership may be greatly reduced (hi, Dad) but at least it shouldn’t disappear without my involvement.
As users, we make the false assumption that what we create is going to be around forever. In fact, the history of the Internet thus far says otherwise on many accounts (pun klaxon!) Hopefully, we might all get our heads around it in time.
When the term [Dark Ages] is used by historians today, therefore, it is intended to be neutral, expressing the idea that the events of the period seem ‘dark’ to us because of the paucity of historical record.