“Nothing is more precious than independance and freedom” - Ho Chi Minh
I started my first blog in 2002. It was then just a few stories, a few pictures of my life in Paris. I don’t even know where these posts are anymore. Was it on typo? Was it on wordpress? Was it self hosted? I was pretty nerd then, being very hands-on coding. Since then, I started a few others, but none of them really last.
It was only about 2 years ago that I started one which is now still active, and that I just migrated to Jekyll, under its own domain name “Bridge and Bubble”. What changed that made it last and why this move?
Start with why
In my early years of blogging, I wrote mainly to share news with friends and family. It was before facebook, before flickr, before myspace. For this purpose, blogging was just too much effort. Flickr turned out a better way to share pictures, facebook to share my little stories, mood and status. It’s only when I got tired of that superficiality, of all the noise that somehow turned me deaf, that I started blogging again as an attempt to create a deeper mutual understannding.
The right tool
At that time I was using wordpress at work, but I just couldn’t get used to it as a “writing” tool. I used to write in google doc, then my assistant would copy/paste in wordpress. Wordpress is a great web tool, but the heavy backend interface, the uploading time, the left menu with all these options (which are great to build a nice website!) were cluttering my mind. Futhermore noway I could draft anything from my mobile. So I went for postach.io. That was ideal. I could draft in Evernote, then just add the “published” tag and it magically appeared online. But then postach.io went premium-only. 9$ a month seemed a high price to pay for a dozen of blog posts a year.
At the same time, I had started to play with Medium. Writing there was easy. I couldn’t work offline, but the site’s loading time was fast and it didn’t seem to require a lot of bandwidth either. Still not workable on my mobile, but it had another significant upside: many friends started, if not to write, then at least to read there, and I fell for the little “hearts” of recommendations, the equivalent of the facebook likes and of the twitter stars. Easy and instant gratification and recognition from my peers. Blogging was turning social.
Who cares? who reads?
Then I started a blogging project for the French Tech Viet community. When I suggested to use Medium and their publication feature to aggregate articles from various members already active on Medium, I got a firm “no” from one of the people who offered to help with this project: “You will never see me work for free for Medium”. I wasn’t totally convinced about the value of the trafic that the blog articles would generate and that would be lost to Medium. In any case, that gave me some food for thoughts on my own personal blog. Medium was afterall just a promotion platform, similar to facebook and twitter.
I don’t have full ownership on the content I put there. And while it was ok for a few pictures, some quick thoughts, I wasn’t ready to give the work I put in “long” writing in exchange of a nice writing tool, more readers and recognition. I’m not spending time on a personal blog for that. Altough of course I like to have readers and recognition. Yet this personal blog is more about me, it’s about being me no matter what. It’s not about readers and recognition. It is about freedom. A bit of research showed me I wasn’t the only one thinking that way, and the discussion goes as far as to question what is web writing nowaday?
A while back, I was also tempted to write on linkedin. However I never overcame the “professional” only side of it. It couldn’t be personal, and I only had so much time as to maintain one blog. So here again, just as Medium, linkedin is a social promotion platform.
Nothing is more precious than freedom
So eventually I bought a domain name. I was ready to pay to have my own tiny place in the World Wide Web rather than to stay, even for free, in a room in a shiny hotel that I would never be able to call mine. A friend of mine then recommmended Jekyll. Jekyll, hosted for free on github pages, is now my own tiny place on the WWWW and I can grow it from there. It’s also a great way to renew with my nerdiness, editing with wim, publishing with git, messing around with css. It’s simple, it’s fast, it’s safe (back-up). It feels home.
I may be less connected, I may miss out on Medium’s discovery algorithm. But this algorithm might turn out an illusion some day. How much can I trust Facebook’s feed algorithm nowaday? Afteral their business model is still ads. Medium is taking on the same path. I’m not taking the risk. My personal blog is like my home and all the social networks are nice coffee places I go to meet friends. This private/common polarity is essential.
Let’s state it cleary in order to stay sane. I’m not my facebook profile. I’m not my Twitter account. I’m not my Medium writings. Facebook, Twitter and Medium are great tools to communicate and are worth using, and so shall I. But I can “exist” online, independently, under my own domain. That’s freedom. That’s what Internet is all about.