Everybody says she’s the brains behind Pa.
When Facebook acquired Instagram earlier this year, the news was followed with EULA updates and advertising promises that spurred outrage and exodus from the free (to that date, business-plan-less) service. Amazon recently bought Goodreads, dismaying a large community of book-lovers who (quite rightly) did not expect their passionate literary communities to be sold off as a potential focus group for monster e-commerce.
Today’s announcement that Yahoo acquired Tumblr was followed by similar (but far lower volume) rumours of user abandonment.
There is a lot that can be debated about user expectations versus network business models, and how much we can expect in return for our participation and life content. Who owns the content? Who is doing who the service? Etcetera etcetera. But to me — and I have no problem with either Yahoo or advertising revenue plans, specifically — this is just another giant, flaming, frantically-waving red flag to remind us that we should all have our own websites.
Social network participation keeps increasing, and users’ lives become more and more cemented into place online. Instead of printing our photos, we make Facebook albums. We document and discuss events from moment to moment on Twitter. We share online content with current and new friends on Tumblr or Pinterest. Those are the places people find us. But what happens when the landscape of our favourite places and digital lives are restructured by a new owner? What if we do not, in fact, welcome our new insect overlords? If you need to walk away, where do you go?
Now imagine if you had a website with your own domain name all this time. Maybe you reposted some of your best social network content to your blog here and there all along. Or maybe you just left it blank with a pretty splash page and some social networking links, and it just sat there, soaking up the SEO of being connected to your active profiles elsewhere, making you easier to find by search engine. Giving you fine control over how you are represented online.
A personal site is the home you can fall back on in times of transition. It’s the place where people can find updated links to your new online activities. And if the next social network morphs into something that doesn’t represent your needs anymore, it’s your website that will take you back. No questions asked.