Call me old fashioned but I like to know where my stuff is. I leave my car keys next to the stairs so I know where they are. I don’t leave them on the table in the pub because I don’t want people borrowing my car without asking. I feel the same about my media. If I post stuff on the Internet I want to control who sees it and know it won’t be used to line random strangers pockets.
I got briefly excited a few years ago about the likes of Facebook et al, it seemed like such an elegant solution to publish your stuff. Facebook started off with a simple premise – scoop up all your contacts into one place, post you pictures and videos there and everyone can view and comment on them. The trouble is Facebook wasn’t happy with just that – this is a commercial enterprise after all and it needed to monetize this somehow. More stuff was added, more ads appeared more ways of endlessly harassing your friends arrived. Then the ultimate time-waster – apps. That was the final nail in the coffin for me.
Facebook like all social networking sites is all about your content. Without its users endless content submissions it would simply be an empty database. [inset side=right]you can almost hear it screaming at you as you log in “feed me, feed me!”[/inset]It feeds off your submissions, it wants to hoover up as much of your life as it can, to make you as dependant on it as possible. Once it has all you photos, videos, friends and chats you will be unable to escape from it as it will have captured all the precious assets and memories of your life – you can almost hear it screaming at you as you log in “feed me, feed me!” – it wants your content because without it it would die.
I’ve had enough. I want my stuff to be kept where I can do what I want with it, where I know it will be safe and where I know who has access to it.
Thus, I’ve built Rick* – a small server sat in the airing cupboard using when practical open source software. I’ve hooked my server into the outside world and am using Facebook and all the other sharing sites to serve me, not the other way round. Does this sound complicated? It’s not – you just need any old PC an Internet connection and some time. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you like. There are added bonuses – host your own media and you don’t need to put it anywhere other than on the server. Photos no longer need to be converted, degraded and uploaded, you friends won’t be bombarded with adverts when viewing your stuff and you can password protect media so you don’t need to worry about your Mum seeing the pictures of you with your mates drunk.
Fancy having a go? Contact me if you need advice.
Reclaim you media!
Footnote for Blogger users:
The thing that really tipped me over the edge apart from Facebook apps (please don’t get me started) was trying to “rescue” my former blog from Blogger.
When I was travelling around South East Asia a few years ago I started a blog to keep in contact with my friends and family back home. This became quite a labour of love over time – I had plenty of time to write on all those long bus journeys and when I returned I had written some 45,000 words and posted several hundred pictures and videos.
There was some writing in there that I was pretty proud of, so recently I decided it would be worth downloading the blog in its entirety and sifting through it all. This was when I discovered my first problem – Blogger doesn’t let you download your blog. In fact there is no way what-so-ever to backup you stuff. This seems almost criminal to me – this is trivially easy to implement programmatically and as I wrote it I feel I have should have the right to do what I want with it.
Why should this be the case? Well, Blogger is owned by Google and like all Internet companies that spin a profit from the data generated by its user base Google wants your content! More specifically it wants to keep your data. For its survival it wants you to generate more and more new content so it can surround it with ads. What it certainly doesn’t want is you downloading you stuff from it’s servers and deleting or moving it to a rival company. By stopping users downloading their blogs it very effectively ties you to using their system forever…
I’ve rescued the blog.. My media is now free, or at least back on my server. The trick was to use the (open source) enemy of Blogger: WordPress.
WordPress obviously have a vested interest in helping Blogger users move their blogs to their system. Therefore they offer an “import” function. I installed WordPress on the home server and pointed it at my Blogger site and imported the whole damn thing in about 2 minutes. Marvellous.
You can now view the entire South East Asia blog HERE.