Own Your Content

Every day in my work, I’m helping people build beautiful, useful tools to manage and own their content.

What does it mean to own your content? Well, it’s the opposite of posting it on someone else’s website. Think Facebook, Medium.com, and even SquareSpace. It’s not that. It’s posting your ideas and files somewhere on a server you control the future of.

In “How future-safe are your ideas?”,1 this gets summed up nicely:

Will the Big Think piece you just posted to Medium be there in 2035? That may sound like it’s very far off in the future, and who could possibly care, but if there’s any value to your writing, you should care. Having good records is how knowledge builds.

On the internet, we’re all publishers, and so it’s important to not have the future of a piece of content—whether it be an essay, PDF, photograph, or video—depend on the whim of a technology company that is driven by profiting off that content. At any moment, they could choose to use your posts in a way you don’t want or to remove something without giving you a chance to save it.

You may think that’s an overblown concern, but remember Geocities? Now it’s gone.

There are lots of ways to “future-safe” your site and own your content like backing up your data and using an open source tool like WordPress or Drupal instead of SquareSpace or Wix.

It’s tempting to put all our faith in companies to hold onto and protect our information, but particularly if it’s free, be wary. From the “future-safe” article:

When we look back at today from the future I expect we will see a big black hole. This period will not look like the renaissance it could be, rather it will be a void, nothing. What were people thinking in 2025? It will be impossible to know.

Unless we’re careful, we risk waking up one day to see this 😜:

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