Ont’internet is my first real foray into blogging. Sharing my opinions and thoughts to a limited audience, where I control all the data on my own site, presents both challenges and opportunities, and I relish both.
The initial challenge was “where do I blog?”. I had to decide upon either a hosted blogging solution such as WordPress.com, or my own hosted solution? After that decision (self hosted), I had to decide upon a format – would I try and hack something together, or use one of the pre-made packages? I decided upon WordPress – a self hosted package, fully customisable, easily editable, perfect for my needs.
So, first two challenges over. After a little bit of warming up and learning the WordPress product, I’ve set up this site on my hosted Linux account with 1 and 1 Internet. I’ve been with them for quite a few years on a Windows business account, and apart from a small snag in 2011 when trying to open a new account (they had a technical issue and wanted to charge me for an account I couldn’t use, then wouldn’t refund me so I had to go to the small claims court – they settled out of court and paid my costs, so all ended well), I’ve very few problems and I think they offer the best package for what I want. I do have other sites on the account, but I’m sure I’ll be discussing those in the future… 🙂
I’ve gone through the process of installation, uninstallation, installation again, modifying, editing, changing themes, trying plugins, editing CSS, editing PHP – basically having geek fun!
This setup, of a self hosted package, using my own custom data, means that all the files and data are stored in a place that I can access, and I can delete it at will. Try doing that with FaceBook!
I’ve never really been a big fan of social networking. I only joined FaceBook in the past year or two, and I totally missed out on the MySpace era. Now I have accounts on FaceBook, Google Plus, Twitter and LinkedIn. These are all disparate places, where my data is held remotely, I can’t see the files or databases to confirm deletion of anything, and my data is claimed as their own. I’m not sure I like that!
I don’t need to read the terms and conditions of my own site, because I set them, and can change them depending on how I feel. There is no censor for my posts, beyond myself. As long as I don’t breach 1 and 1’s terms (I like to think I’m not going to post anything illegal, so I should be OK there), I’m free to post anything I wish. The important part of that is that my posts and sites will not be monitored or censored by them, just because we don’t share the same beliefs or sense of political correctness (you’ll maybe come to learn that this is a PC free zone!).
So what are my opinions of the major sites on which I’m registered, and how do I use them?
- FaceBook – I’m going to be up front and blunt – I’m not too keen on this site. Privacy seems to be one of the biggest concerns. Usability is not focussed on people like me, for example, you’re expected to “Like” that someone’s dog’s died, or they broke their leg. Faces from the past, that you thought you’d left behind long ago want to be your “Friend”. Certain layouts / formats are forced on you, what you see is decided for you. Lately, I’m seeing it being more and more of an advertising platform, where I have to “Like” an organisation, just to read about it and see if I actually do like it. I guess FaceBook’s not really for me. I glance through the site most days, but very rarely post anything. Anything I do post is along the lines of “here’s a nice picture of a sunset I saw tonight” or “look how daft our dog is”. Most of the time I’ll just “Like” a couple of posts that people I know have written.
- Twitter – For me, it’s a nice place to look for a few brief jokes, check the opinions of people you’re interested in. It’s another site where marketing is taking over a little, but it’s not as overt or intrusive as FaceBook. I don’t see it as a particularly social place for myself. I rarely post, few people “follow” me, and I’m not brief enough to stick to 140 characters. I’ve maybe posted 5 times in the years that I’ve been registered – I’ll regularly click retweet on something I’ve found funny or amusing, but that’s it. I think I’ll stay registered with Twitter, but my usage will probably wane.
- LinkedIn – I’m not really sure about the point of this site. I’m a member, I’ve linked to people I’ve worked with or know, and that’s about it. Maybe if I were looking for work I’d put an advert out there saying so. I don’t post, I don’t read it, I just stay connected in case I need it! 🙂
- Google Plus – This is the site that first piqued my interest in blogging. I don’t see it really as a place to put my opinions and thoughts in longhand, but it was a good starter, and showed me the way people link to their own blogs and brought me to their sites. I’ll occasionally put a couple of paragraphs up there, showing my opinion on a news story, or a new piece of technology, but these things just seem to get lost in the overwhelming stream of people posting in the same place. I feel I may start linking to this site on there, when I make a new post, but again, it’s not quite right. I love the way it integrates picture sharing, and I think it’s the best of the social networking sites, but it didn’t quite fit my requirements in the same way my own site can.
I guess Social Networking isn’t right for me – maybe I’m just not a social person at heart, but I’m really hoping that blogging is a part of my future. I’m enjoying writing my thoughts in longhand. Putting the words here in a place where I can see them, when I want, and where I can delete them permanently, when I want, fits much more with my goals than the services offered by the various social networking sites.
I’d love to hear any other opinions and thoughts on Social Networks and/or blogging – please make use of the comments here and let’s have a discussion!