There are many social media services and services to publish your content on the internet. I have been using a lot of them, like Twitter, Facebook and Google+, but also Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger and so on. They have unique features and often different audiences by design. You will find mom and dad on sites like Facebook, not so much on your wordpress blog. Photo lovers tend to be at Google+, Flickr and Tumblr and so on.
The service controls the content
I can add content to any service I like. While technically WordPress is a bit different as you do own your data if you choose to (specially on a self hosted version), services like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ control your content. You put it out there, they can do whatever they like with it. That is not really a problem for most of us, though you have to keep in mind many of that kind of services died over time. Remember Hyves? FriendFeed? Orkut? Yes, they all died or were bought (and died later). I still remember some of my friends frantically trying to get their photos from Hyves which they never stored anywhere else when they went out of business.
The problem with selfhosting / self controlling
A better way to control the content is host it yourself. That way you are always ensured that as long as you keep good backups, your content always stays under your control and you can do whatever you want with it. Over the years I have had my wordpress blogs on my own systems, VPS’s and also on the hosted wordpress.com site. The main issue with selfhosting is that you loose the connection with friends and family and other conveniences other services have. There are nice ways to filter, subscribe and forward content. All stuff you do not have on your selfhosted site.
The solution; Indieweb
Indiewebcamp is a conference with a group of people that try to do something about the above mentioned issues. They describe it in their website with 3 main points:
- Your content is yours
- You are better connected (your content goes everywhere, but is published on your own site first)
- You are in control (you can post anything you want and are not bound to agreements, rules and other crap)
They have developed protocols like h-card, webmentions
I like they POSSE approach in particular. It stands for “Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere”. That basically means you post everything on your own selfcontrolled site and let the content flow to services like Facebook and Twitter. Every syndicated copy has a link back to the original on your site and with nice technologies like Brid.gy the comments, likes, +1’s, favorites and so on are pulled back to your site. They stay there with the original content.
In practise that means you can have discussions on any of the silos (Facebook for example) which stay confined there, but if people would go to your site they see everything, including discussions elsewhere, even on your own site without any third party.
It also means you have the advantages I mentioned above, you own and control everything from the very first post you put up to the last like or comment anywhere.
That’s very simple. I have seen the founders Ben Werdmuller @werd.io and Erin Jo Richey @erinjo.xyz on This Week in Google 266. And I have followed them a bit since then. I liked the idea from the beginning and now there is Known Pro, a hosted service that runs Known on their servers. I like that as I do not want to own my own server anymore and I figured I get the best experience by subscribing to the hosted service straight from the founders.
You do not need Pro though and you do not need to pay anything if you don’t want to. You can get started by downloading the installer and install it on any PHP, MySQL webhoster and obviously you can install it yourself on your own server if you choose to.
I expect (and very much hope) there will be more plugins available in Known Pro. It would be nice to be able to post automatically to a Google+ Page. That way I can setup a page there and stay connected to my friends there without the need to post everything native on Google+. Also it would be nice to have Tumblr support and perhaps some more. I’m excited, how about you?
Have a look at https://withknown.com/
I have since moved on to Hugo, a Static Site Generator which suits my needs more. I’m no longer publishing everything publically, but use Silo’s for private matters. I now have my site for generic public articles which I link to.