EP302 – Replacing social media with your own website – WPwatercooler

December 28, 2018

On this episode of WPwatercooler, the panel delved into the evolution of personal websites and the challenges they face in the era of dominant social media platforms. The discussion kicked off with the team reminiscing about their early days on the internet, from building on platforms like Geocities to starting with basic HTML sites. As the conversation progressed, it became clear that while platforms like Facebook and Twitter offer immediate visibility, personal websites offer a more curated space for content, although they might not get the same traction. There was a poignant reflection on the nature of content creation, with some panelists highlighting that while some create for the sake of it, others need an audience for motivation. This distinction between private journaling and public blogging was also explored. A significant concern raised was how big tech companies, with their walled gardens, might stifle individual innovation by drawing talent into their ecosystems. The episode concluded with an optimistic look towards the future, emphasizing the importance of interconnectedness between sites and recommending tools like those from IndieWeb to help sites communicate with each other. The panelists expressed hope for the future of the web, even joking about the challenges of legacy browsers like IE6. The episode, sponsored by Desktop Server, wrapped up with gratitude for the community’s involvement and the panelists’ consistent contributions.

00:00 Introduction and Sponsor Mention
00:31 Pre-show Discussions and Introductions
01:14 Panelists’ Early Web Experiences
02:47 Introduction to WordPress
04:48 The Evolution from HTML Sites
06:24 LiveJournal’s Influence and Transition to WordPress
08:16 Reflections on Personal Web Archives
09:23 Business Websites and Early Online Innovations
10:28 Social Media Platforms vs. Personal Websites
12:04 Creation vs. Consumption on the Web
13:09 Current Youth’s Perception of Online Presence
14:18 Motivations for Online Publishing and Human Psychology
16:44 Personal Journaling and Voice Blogging
19:18 Role of Walled Gardens in Tech Innovations
21:51 Importance of Open Web and Challenges Ahead
24:26 The Future of Interconnected Websites
28:02 Exploring IndieWeb Tools
29:30 Episode Conclusion and Thanks

Can you replace social media with your own website? We start our discussion here and Jason continues it on his person website – Should we replace Facebook with our personal websites?


Episode Transcription

(00:00) counter the official counter official water cooler counter OS a thank you very much for desktop server for helping us out with this particular episode we’re streaming this on all the places that say his mom watches us on the youtubes on Facebook on Twitter we’re on everything we’re doing all the things so I’ll take a look at him whatever thing it is that you’re watching a signup form agnostic yeah and if you don’t want to watch the show alive I totally get it sometimes it just doesn’t work out you can also watch us
(00:31) in a pre-recorded State subscribe you can find all that information over there already so today we do pre-show prep we even talked about the show before the show which is I know it’s it’s crazy and before we get that I want to go I want to get everyone I want to get everyone introduced but I wanted to kind of use that introduction time as a way of kind of bridging the gap into the the particular topic so the the topic idea is how do you go from a social media platform to your own website and so I wanted to ask you if you can remember
(01:14) what was the software that you’re using for your personal website or what was the thing that you were using to to host your personal website was it like MySpace or was it you know whatever so let’s go real quick hi my name is Brianna pivot of techno siren and back in 1996 I sat and saved garage and we built some Geocities websites together yeah that’s where we got started you know I got started anyway who was that neighborhood called just like our like boho or something it’s still online that’s awesome I remember that in one of
(02:04) your talks cool very cool how about you Joshua tell us about yourself yeah I’m Josh the rule in Idaho up here in the cold close to Canada but I love it I was thinking my the first website that counts was probably around 2006 using HTML frames and they were horrible because I would have to redo the header on every single page every single time I decided to change the text or the logo or the menu until Joplin showed me this beautiful thing called PHP includes and then I pretty much felt like I was a PHP developer at that stage like I thought
(02:47) that I knew what I was doing where it was hosted Jonathan might remember but it probably been whatever I asked him in a small lunch a small links comma I think his work and it was a little website I made for basically a non-profit idea that I had and did all the graphics for and didn’t really go anywhere but there’s a lot of fun to build it well how are you Jonathan my name is Jonathan old I pull a meter I I work live teach preach WordPress my first Hana like a definitely some HTML stuff but where where it counts for me
(03:31) was WordPress I mean I am a full set counts what counts counts where it really fulfilled like all my hopes and dreams for it I take the boxes of being able to call it a website so it wasn’t hosted by somebody else but rather hosted by something that you controlled versus like a myspace or yeah I definitely had some HTML and PHP sites before that so I mean those those can I just don’t really remember them as well as like alright now I’m like controlling the thing I think the first website you might have made would have been passed
(04:07) around on a floppy disk I feel like you built it in HTML and would share it with me and I remember having a myspace but to me that didn’t feel like a website because I didn’t job yeah yeah how do you say what do you got well may read [ __ ] short history Sherpas have favored media on all the things when you say it that best you can say okay just kidding um happened that during six years of saying the same thing why do cities as Briana already mentioned I don’t know the first site that I like every like everything I
(04:48) built sites in HTML I don’t even know what there was just an HTML like these tables like I don’t even know like I built like site actually was talking about one this morning with my mom I she did a she’s the president to CEO of her company and she was in a bunch of associations when that stuff was just coming out so I was just talking with her about the women transportation seminars Inland Empire chapters website this morning so that was one really long time ago and I was actually thinking about it because I was using I was
(05:20) thinking about the graphics that we use at the top like the little square color blocks like at the top of like a little like sidebar thing that was like not a sidebar because it was you know not dynamic obviously in any sense but really funny that you asked that question though because I literally be singing about something so purple like I know mine was purple and gray now I wanna know if that’s on mine now I have to go to my little my evolution is a little weird because I started out with if I remember right it was movable type
(05:49) which used a cgi-bin Perl script to do its thing and then I ended up doing HTML and then HTML led to s HTML which was doing server side includes which kind of gets to what Joshua was talking about the idea of kind of doing a you know theming if you will not having to update every single page with just the the main one but then they went into like live journal and live journal was like the spot that I wrote all my stuff and you know I mean a place turned into like this massive crazy Russian owned ridiculousness that
(06:24) it is now but what it was back then was really awesome is what I took my my first WordPress website and pulled all the data from it using some Perl script that somebody wrote probably and put it into WordPress yes and the thing the nice thing about live journalism dove tail between you had your personal space and you had a community a frontal time line of feed you could see when people have posted you know juxtapose basically against your own sites like the interface it really was a bridge between the two things were talking
(06:56) about today but yeah I appreciated how easily LiveJournal was sucked into my wordpress blog because I built a web site at Brianna dot org in 1998 hosted on pear and that was thank you yeah it sounds like it was a long time ago but it hadn’t previously been a porn site so I’ve owned the domain now for twenty years and I saw the weirdest emails but it was PHP and when I am migrated it to WordPress in 2004 2008 2004 and that was the first thing I did was import all my life journal entries mmm you know I made
(07:45) all those private when I did that I was like okay all my private that are irrelevant at least I have a document of it like there’s a place that all that content exists you guys ever want to do something really interesting go on archive.org and look up your site or someone else’s site oh yeah wayback machine is that that’s saved my butt many times I’m it’s like I find the stuff that I wrote as a teenager and like oh man it’s yeah I have been very thankful I basically became an adult right at the tail end of when all this
(08:16) stuff was happening so my teenage life is not really documented like some of my younger friends me too I never used live journal I read a lot of live journal though I really did but I did not write on it I was never comfortable with that level of sharing I’ve never been comfortable with that with like the I mean I love blogging but I’ve never been comfortable personally using that in a personal sense I’ve never had a blog there’s like a layer of abstraction right where you’re not talking about the
(08:46) most personal things but you are talking about things I never really had a blog like that I just I I should’ve because I would have had one for freaking ever now but I never I uh I was more I guess kind of a lurker in a way where I would like engage like you know I go to all who comment on everything and whatever like I’m there but I’m not necessarily wasn’t contributing information so I didn’t have anything to transfer over my first main WordPress site was for my business for my bookstore and that’s feigning
(09:23) that is where I learned which Briana business I think originally or she hosted a hosting company and so she was my host back in the day and like it was awesome actually because it was a conversation like working on that game with you it was like the imaginal and then you built your own before it was very cool it was it was very cutting edge at the time we had like you know book directories and event directories before any of that happened so you know none of that’s very well documented though because too busy doing the thing
(09:55) to document the thing maybe that’s always been the problem mm so how do we bridge that gap between a social social media or social platform like Facebook like Twitter like any of these things to your personal website and in the personal website we say personal website cuz we don’t want to focus on just the blog part of it but also like all the other fun things that you can do on a website other than a blog thing and so how do you kind of take that in turn it you know oh you’re all these people that
(10:28) are like oh 2019 I’m switching I’m no longer you’re gonna use Facebook I’m only a used Twitter and I started using Twitter for a couple minutes and I’m like oh my god you guys even do any of this stuff in Twitter like half the stuffs like five hundred years old nothing’s out of it nuns in order up I’m like this is this is yeah this is not a way of running the discussion how do you think for my personal website is I’ve always put more carefully curated information on there I think about
(10:58) something I carefully write about it and I’ll put pictures and illustrations on it on Facebook it’s been more just let things fly because I don’t worry too much and Instagram has been a little bit more in the middle there so on social media platforms it’s very quick and easy to post things so I’ll just post things that are more ephemeral that I don’t care about later on my own website I put a lot more time into it I think that’s the biggest difference for me and on my own website it’s it’s not
(11:28) easy to just in 10 seconds pop out of thought it takes me about five minutes I gotta go to my laptop I’ve gotta pull up things and write I mean that is not spring of Gutenberg but I’m gonna do it like right Matt’s vision is to reduce the amount of time between you doing that in terms of the mobile app in terms of Geneva mountain just send it you tap an app on your phone and you type pulling an image and press publish if you can get it that easy suddenly it could become it could overtake some of the platforms a real problem actually I
(12:04) don’t think isn’t the publishing I think publishing is actually really well done I think the problem is people finding things and knowing where people’s things are and people know like one of the things I think is worth discussing is the difference between like the creation versus consumption and I think a lot of folks like a website and people can use like platforms for creation but a lot of people I would posit use it to consume and they’re their barriers of entry so it’s more of a creative barrier than a technical
(12:41) barrier and there are there are legitimate technical barriers as well that need to be resolved but ultimately I think there’s some like deeper issues around people not feeling like they have something to create well which isn’t true and well it’s not even just about creating though the internet is a really good place right now and people feel like if they’re being personal if they’re sharing themselves even if they’re sharing politics or a news article that gets contentious really quickly and I think people don’t want to
(13:09) expose that younger generations are more conscious of personal branding then I think we were at the inception of the web kids are curating their presences they don’t think about what they’re doing on Instagram as creation necessarily but they do think of it as curation and so I think that we you know I talked about it in terms of playfulness and creativity but that’s because that applies to me and how I’ve approached the web but I’m holding I’ve been on the web for a very long time and
(13:45) how people today are using it are vastly different I mean we’re reusing our phones you know we’re not hacking code we don’t want most people don’t want to they want to post a picture they want to use a filter and make it beautiful or they want to get sponsored you know so they can go somewhere cool and live a cure a table life and that is already we’re offline we’re talking about how people are living their lives and how not it translates back to social media is people want a conversation but a lot of
(14:18) people want an audience so you know you know so in Seth Godin book his new book called this is Mark and he talks a lot about the concept of status and how we as humans a lot of what we do is for status amongst ourselves like the sense that we want to belong to something these network effects kick in when like he has this great example and he talks a lot about like early adopters who kind of do things and then people like oh they want to like take part they want they want to have some of that status that you get from it so they’ll also do
(14:49) it’s okay it’s interesting with any of these topics you have to dig a little bit deeper into are intrinsic motivations as humans I I don’t want to like some people won’t want to create if no one’s watching yes others don’t have that motivation they want to create for the sake of creation because but it’s so we have to keep some of that stuff in mind when you get into these topics otherwise you can why isn’t this working why there’s no one why doesn’t everyone not want to create their own website
(15:15) because that’s that didn’t sell isn’t there a few the motivation is important because on my own personal website for the last three or four years after enough comments and I rarely even take analytics every once in a while so when a friend will say hey I like the article or I’ll get a comment and that happens maybe once a week or once a month so the motivation for me I’ve intentionally made it that I’m not trying to get this feedback loop I’m trying to just have a place where I want to go write things
(15:44) and create things I just say to that’s not a trivial conclusion like I also did the same I took analytics entirely off my site which is a little bit hard it was hard because like were so wired to like oh I want to see the number of impressions the number of hits but ultimately I had to say what what actually matters to me and for me personally its actual impact so I would rather someone tell me that that it helped them or in some other way then just get a bunch of people looking at it I’m curious who here still does private
(16:14) journaling about six months out of the year oh I’ll do it yeah I was literally just having a conversation about that like two days ago it’s so very topical because that’s if you private journal then that means you’re getting your thoughts out in a format that’s completely just for you you know when you do go to the web or to a social platform do you clearly know there’s a disconnect between the type of content you’re creating when if you’re used to doing privateeer I I think there’s also
(16:44) something in that like just that private public split in terms of if you’re not well not even the private public say if you are a writer and you’re writing and that’s a way that you express yourself and you get your thoughts out that’s really different than someone who maybe talks and that’s how they do stuff so you know I have various friends when I talk about things that’s how I am a you know that’s how I process stuff right like even though I can write and I’m a writer that’s not how stuff gets
(17:11) processed for me and I think that the web has been too still right now it’s shifting obviously with Facebook and Instagram it’s been shifting to visual from writing based my journal and all of that and that has I think enabled more people to participate because it’s not you know there’s there’s something to be said there’s a formalization process of writing that’s not as just like boom I know it looks like what that’s a good point because I think of all my friends you are now posted on Instagram very
(17:42) comfortably because they can do pictures and one line of text and they’re very excited right and I think the web has been almost exclusionary you know we talk about accessibility a lot in terms of literal abilities seeing you know that hearing that type of stuff but we don’t talk a ton about neuro diversity which is a something I learned about this year and the different ways that people process information the different ways that people want to publish want to express themselves and there’s all sorts
(18:11) of different types of that so I think the web has been sort of exclusionary up till now you know and even web stuff to a certain degree there’s a there’s a you know if you if you do it like even with this show right we’ve been doing this for six years but I mean we know a lot of us don’t really like we’re not like out there like hitting the pavement and like you know doing all sorts of stuff like Jason does you know his his publications whatever but it’s a different medium but we’re obviously not
(18:41) doing it for you know that status so it’s kind of like this is in a way like a personal blog you know I mean like this is where I come and I talk about my things about WordPress and that’s a form of expression that is interesting and that’s not as see that’s not as intuitive to the website part and so the website has almost up until this moment kind of excluded those people that’s why social media hasn’t done that you can take pictures etc the website you have to write you have to do stuff I think a
(19:18) quick comment on status just to kind of clarify that as Seth talked about the book it’s not an inherently negative or positive thing it’s just knowing where you fit because some people don’t want higher status they actually want lower status because it’s so they can be more obscure but it’s this basic idea of not understanding where you fit sense of identity and versus humans like like we want to go I’m part of this thing like people in sets cause like people like us do things like this like we want that
(19:47) sense as humans Breanna I just think that there is a point at which it was easier to centralize things from a personal press based website where you could post once and publish it across networks and pull data back so that you were engaging in a conversation still within your personal ecosystem a lot of effort has been made by Facebook and Twitter to make that impossible and constantly with their constant API changes and their exhibit snip-snip we can it makes a huge difference but going back to what you were saying about neurodiversity I also
(20:25) think I mean we just passed a major gift-giving holiday a lot of people have voiced assistance and I think that we’re going to see kind of an explosion in publishing to the web using voice interfaces as someone who is both a developer and we’ll just say neurodiverse you know I end a futurist you are totally let’s be real Instagram dude horizontal scrolling this week horizontal scrolling since are going to make a huge difference to accessibility in personal publishing on the web but we’re not seeing yet and I don’t think
(21:18) companies are gonna be the ones to drive that Vanguard they’ll provide the hardware but we still as developers and as champions of publishing on the web whatever that looks like video text image we are the ones who are going to basically be showing people how to do that you know like this is this is us as our early adopters Jason actually you have with your lyft thing if you’ve been doing your leg lifts Diaries so Jason’s doing I don’t know if we’ve really talked about on the show at all
(21:51) but in chronicling Matt um and you do a voice blog thing right feed it straight up and then publish it yeah I dictate it well I made the I made the choice of doing the dictation into a software or app that I use on my phone called drafts and so drafts you just hit the little record no drafts made for a bunch of things but it’s mainly like a place to capture your data first before you do something else with it so I was using drafts dictation system to kind of do this dictation and I said up front just let you know and I
(22:24) even said it from while dictating it just let you know whatever it is that Siri comes up with as I say I am NOT editing this so it is what it is and that’s it if it says I picked up a white elephant I picked up a white elephant yeah I’m sorry but that’s just what happened and that’s it but I take it of data and then I put that into into Facebook and so I was just posting those on Facebook’s to get people to talk about you know right sharing and all that sort of thing but I guess the thing is is that because
(22:52) I posted this stuff on Facebook and not on my personal website I’m posted on Facebook knowing that other people are going to see it or if I were to post on my personal website I can guarantee you no one’s gonna read it why because no one even knows I have a personal no one’s there yeah I may mention it was passively checking your website right which is we’re like going back to live journal or anything like live journal is that there was a built-in network that was that was there even wordpress.com kind of has its own
(23:17) little networking type thing Aveeno the like hit the star button next to a post and that says that you read it and you can get more stars it’s almost like the equivalent of whatever tumblr does where it has it’s like reblogs and that sort of thing or medium claps which is actually medium bases its monetization off of those claps in terms of what it pays and also who it offers firewall pay while monetization options sound friends who I see every week for years in the yellow blog had no idea you write a few
(23:53) minutes reading true and it’s just they have no idea it’s there versus if I say something on Facebook 50 of my friends will probably see it in the day exactly and it’s you know it’s something you run into like in the handmade community people who are selling online they don’t really want to go to WordPress and install WooCommerce they want to go where there’s a built-in network of shoppers like Etsy and because Town Hall r-square yes all networks that are fighting really hard to keep their data within the
(24:26) walled garden and it it needs to change it kind of is it’s not like I’m a you know getting super retro about it but really where things go with RSS and XML than what we have today with a lot of hacks like you want your Twitter feed to be in order there are some hacks for that that you can do in the search bar which is fun and everybody likes to be in the know everybody likes to be in the secret society where you know the hack to make it work for you but at a certain point and at a certain time in your life
(25:03) you don’t want to have to hack something you want it to work it’s no longer fun it’s no longer ordering off the secret menu it’s it’s kind of like yeah with my operating system I used to really care about tweaking everything in Windows making it look exactly like what I want changing all the settings and now on Mac I don’t think twice it’s dark mode or light mode that’s it yes this is I just want to this is a really interesting topic and I think an important one that can keep revisiting in different ways
(25:39) because it’s not a you just like so meta oh my god one of the things that’s hit me is like art my son is eight years old now he’s expressed his interest in having a website and I’m like how do i how do i guide him like how do i and it’s and I’ve had some discussions with him and I’ve encouraged him delay will start writing out what you think you’d want to put and think about why what you’d wanna do but I want to strongly encourage it and that’s helped to frame my thinking over the past few months and
(26:11) say okay whatever we building for our kids yeah what’s this going to look like for that what’s the future look like and I personally I’m fine with these walled gardens existing because I think they drive innovation in important ways but for me I want the open web to be healthy and strong and and today I feel like there’s a lot of very legitimate risks that don’t just get addressed on there you know something that we don’t talk about all the time that is definitely impacting the WordPress world in terms
(26:39) of those walled gardens and you’re talking about where innovation happens those walled gardens also have something that comes along with them that you know called the golden noose which I didn’t actually knew how to name but I referred to all the time with my brother because he’s a genius programmer and he worked for myspace and image created the top eight and then you know is awesome and basically they just well just throw money at you and so you don’t leave we don’t really care what you do just
(27:06) here’s a bunch of money don’t go anywhere and that is I feel like what a lot of tech companies do they throw a bunch of money at some talented people and they come up with some stuff so yes that drives innovation but it also keeps those people from innovating on their own and keeps them within again that walled garden everything they do all their intellectual property everything that they do is for that company so the motivation to create just to create these coding developer Minds it’s not there because they don’t own it
(27:37) it’s not gonna be theirs if they work for them you know and I mean it’s just not so they even they have to leave and take time off and stuff and so you know innovation happens there because it’s well paid and there’s cafeterias and laundromats and stuff and if they weren’t driving everybody to stay there what would the web actually look like we probably wouldn’t have awesome stuff inside walled gardens we probably have what it looks like back what was gonna look like before they threw up on their
(28:02) wall one point to that I was just reading that well this week about the guy who had found an Instagram he tried to get hired by a facebook before then and it didn’t work out for some reason so then he goes and builds Instagram and infinitely gets you know he sells it to Facebook but the idea being to your point um would he have created Instagram under the auspice of Facebook no created what Mark Zuckerberg submission was not what his we could never know for sure but the answer is probably no he probably would not have made this
(28:31) completely different software under Facebook and it’s the world is a different place because he did that because he went out on his own and made back software that duh I think our homework for today is if you had some homework between now and you know the first or second when you actually go back to work if you’re a full-time employed person like me or if you got some you got some days off you got some things so to work on before you you have to pick up your next projects and the begin of the year look at the indie web go to indie web
(29:05) org I’ve been using a software through them called bridge II and there’s a there’s a couple other things that are kind of tied into this it works with using like backtracks and using a back feed and all these different ways of kind of making websites talk to each other definitely take a look at that it’s it’s something that I’ve really enjoyed playing around with and kind of seeing the things that people are doing with it and I think overall it might be I’m not saying it’s the future but it’s
(29:30) definitely something that is setting a good trajectory for the future of making those sites all talk to each other I’ve been having a lot of these conversations and I’m really excited for the future of the web honestly I wasn’t for a minute it looked kind of bleak but everyone’s kind of like rallying I guess as long as we can get ie6 to stop being like the thing we have to worry about we should be just fine thank you very much for all of our folks here on our panel to come and hang out with me during the would
(30:00) you call it say the dark days the black dead week where content goes to die or we’re back in September and now they’re playing it finally you know they have it I was like I watch The Today Show this morning and having all those folks kind of like oh this is actually recorded right now it’s not live if we’re actually recorded from like a couple weeks back I’m like really come on so thank you very much guys for hanging out with us I saw some folks that had hanging out and talking with us and
(30:26) stuff so I’ll make sure that our panelists you’re able to take a look at that and I want to say thank you very much for desktop server for helping us out with the technologies that we’re using here and paying it for us appreciate that touch y’all later and

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14 responses to “EP302 – Replacing social media with your own website – WPwatercooler”

  1. Hi! I’m going to be on WPWatercooler today! Holiday pro-tip: free WordCamp t-shirts also make excellent holiday pajamas.

  2. Join us on WPWatercooler today!

  3. Going to be on WPwatercooler today! Starts soon.

  4. Going to be on WPwatercooler today! Starts soon.

  5. Want to control your content? Replace social media with your own website. wpwatercooler.com/video/ep302-re…

  6. db liked this Post on twitter.com.










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