Owning Yourself

I saw the news today that HuffPo is shutting down their “contributor network.”

we are ending the HuffPost contributor platform. The platform, which launched in May 2005, was a revolutionary idea at the time: give a megaphone to lots of people ― some famous, some completely unknown ― to tell their stories. At that time, social networks barely existed. Facebook was a nascent dating site for college students. Twitter had not been invented. The platforms where so many people now share their views, like LinkedIn, Medium and others, were far in the future.

While that is sad news, it is not the least bit surprising.

I said this on Twitter about this news:

I would never outsource my content to some third party. I blog on my own domain using open source software (WordPress) that I run on a shared server that I can move if I want to. It is a bit of work to set this up but the benefits you get are enormous.

I have been asked to blog at Medium, LinkedIn, HuffPo, and many other places. I always tell them that I am not going to do that. If they want to repost something I have written here on their platform, that is cool with me. The content here at AVC is creative commons licensed and freely available for reposting with a few reasonably constraints.

But this is part of a much larger and more important narrative. We are in the “Internet Two” phase as Steven Johnson called in it his piece that I blogged about yesterday. Internet One was an open network, open protocols, open systems. Internet Two is closed platforms that increasingly dominate the market and own and control our content and us. We need to get to Internet Three where we take back control of ourselves. It is high time for that to happen. The HuffPo news is a small example of what that is so important.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Daniel Clough

    So agree! If you own your own website and newsletter list, everything is in your control.I worry about Medium for the long term. As far as I can see, other than a lovely design, I’m not sure they’re doing anything special. I don’t really enjoying wading through it as a user and even with double posting what I write to Medium, they aren’t getting my content in front of anyone new.

  2. Mike Zamansky

    There are a lot of great discussions going on in the CS Ed space on Facebook and I feel like a lone voice in the wilderness when I try to encourage people to break out of the silo.People use Facebook or the platform du jour because it’s easy but everything posted there, everything discussed there is not easily discoverable or searchable and will likely not even be accessible to the in-club of group members somewhere down the line.

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t use facebook, don’t post there, don’t read there. don’t go there.

      1. Mike Zamansky

        It’s a convenient way for me to keep connected with my former students who aren’t part of the “StuyCS family” (or mafia as some would say) but I hate that the education communities have parked there.I keep trying to convince my son who writes some very clever and interesting commentary on opera and musicals to put more up on his blog and less up on Facebook.

        1. JamesHRH

          Fred’s a zealot here. FB provides huge value.My children & niece : nephew will stay in touch w people their entire lives, thanks to FB.It’s not often Fred is way off base – this is one of those times.

          1. Twain Twain

            USV invested in FB’s competitor, Twitter. So it’s not that he’s off base. He’s just loyal to Twitter.

          2. JamesHRH

            Anyone who thinks Twit & FB are direct competitors is way off base.Totally different user base and value proposition.Just because the Chair of Twit plots the positioning of Twitter based on his personal competition with other Founders doesn’t mean that is what Twitter does.

          3. Twain Twain

            This may make @fredwilson:disqus smile. Jack tweeted that an AI app compared his looks to Francesc Gimeno.So I tweeted this at him. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

          4. Rob Underwood

            I’m with Fred on this.I quit FB over a year ago and have not looked back. I have not missed anything except pointless political fights with old friends from Kennebunk High School (Go Rams!).I have found recreating that rebuilding ways to stay in touch with friends and family without Facebook has been rewarding. Not using Facebook to share updates and photos may require more friction and time, but those fewer interactions are deeper and more meaningful. One thing I’ve tried to do more of is just calling friends of mine on the phone who I might other only have Facebooked with.My 13 year old and his friends who go to school in the East Village do not use Facebook at all and generally are pretty down on social media. I have heard him and his friends describe social media as “stupid” and “a joke”. He said to me the other day “Dad you gotta understand — this stuff is not new to us. It’s always been there. It’s nothing special.”I have tried to quit Twitter but found that more difficult for both professional reasons (I can kinda/sorta buy that you need to have some activity associated with your Twitter handle and LinkedIn for when people “check you out” at least until you reach the fame and escape velocity of our host) and that it’s a great tool during breaking news. But all the trolling and hate, even with a ton of muting and blocking, is really hard to take. I miss the early Twitter days of a “conversation of with the world” and when RTs were a primary discovery mechanism.

          5. JamesHRH

            Best of luck. You are paddling upstream.My 15 yo has lived in 4 cities in 8 years. Social media is how she stays current with those friends.Can’t imagine any other way she could maintain that large a network.

          6. Drew Meyers

            “I quit FB over a year ago and have not looked back.”Good on you. This is a growing trend that’s only going to accelerate.

          7. pointsnfigures


          8. JamesHRH

            She uses Igram & Snap. I bet she is on FB by 30.

      2. Richard


      3. LE

        Nothing annoys me more than when a tv network, station or business tells me to go to their facebook page. Obviously they do it because they feel they will gain people who will share with their friends.I don’t use it at all [1] and have banned family members from identifying me in any pictures that are posted there.[1] Except to monitor what others are doing with it (family) which I find helpful business wise.

    2. Rob Underwood

      It’s a real head shaker for me too Mike. For a group of people who each (purportedly) know how to code, I’d assume in multiple languages, and are comfortable around computer science it’s a head shaker to me why so much is done on Facebook of all platforms.

      1. Mike Zamansky

        Its so easy for a tech literate person to set up a static site blog using GitHub pages. Drop in disqus code and you’ve got comments.I just don’t get it.

        1. kidmercury

          what would be the advantage of doing so, aside from sticking it to facebook? facebook still offers the solution with the least friction.

          1. Mike Zamansky

            Discoverability and searchability for two. Trying to get data out of Facebook at some later date is a third.

          2. jason wright

            but perhaps that friction is about to be greased with Internet Three (or Internet We) as I now call it.

        2. Twain Twain

          99% of people aren’t developers. The value proposition of all social platforms has been “Your friends are there,” critical mass of people, trusted personal connections.https://uploads.disquscdn.c

          1. Mike Zamansky

            The communities Rob and I are talking about are Computer Science educators so I’d imagine the % of tech capable people to be much higher.

          2. Twain Twain

            Thanks, yes, I appreciate that. Maybe it is the case of “people are lazy.” If the techco’s make it SEEM frictionless to sign up to the platform then the marketing, PR and brands people will just use Facebook pages.Technically, it’s not that different from WordPress Mu but the perception is that WordPress Mu involves some server management and GitHub’s audience is the tech community but that doesn’t attract brands and, therefore, devs can’t make $ ad money with their pages.

        3. JamesHRH

          Why would anyone do work that someone else has already done for them?Are you saying that coders don’t have non-coding friends? Where would they be?

          1. Rob Underwood

            We prefer our blogging and commenting platforms artisanal here in New York, thank you.

          2. JamesHRH

            + 1B

          3. pointsnfigures

            Ha! Byte to Screen (poor pun on Farm to Table)

          4. Rob Underwood

            “handcrafted in x64 assembly”

        4. Matt Zagaja

          I have yet to find an easy way to post to Jekyll from the share extensions in MacOS and iOS that I lean on so heavily. I like and use Jekyll but it’s so much higher friction than Facebook.It reminds me of when I ended up after much cajoling moving our Code for Boston slideshow to reveal.js. While reveal is kind of a neat platform, it is much more challenging to use than Keynote (which I used before). I had to buy an external clicker from Amazon since there wasn’t a phone app. The design of the template looks worse and is harder to change. And despite all the effort I put in after all the cajoling the membership generally is not going to the presentation on GitHub nor are they submitting pull requests to update it with information. In the end we spent lots of our time to change to something and won very little from it :(.

    3. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Had a similar experience Tuesday night at a women in tech event. The organizers encouraged everyone to join the Facebook group to keep in touch with each other. Later I suggested we created a Slack workspace instead, and the organizers replied, “Ugh, Slack just gets SO overwhelming!” I don’t even know how to respond to that, ha! And these are technologists.

      1. Anne Libby

        The private groups are apparently pretty useful, people keep suggesting that I join this one or that one. (And the funny thing is that some of the suggestions are coming from younger people, who supposedly aren’t on FB.) But I never want to go back.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          I can’t figure out how they can be more convenient or useful than Slack. Maybe it is generational, though. These women probably all grew up with FB in their lives.

          1. pointsnfigures

            That could in fact be. My wife’s org uses Facebook for groups, but they have an internal Slack.

        2. Chris O'Donnell

          Private groups are pretty much the only thing I’m still using Facebook for. Events are important too, as so many local venues promote primarily on FB. I’ve unfollowed everybody in my friend list except my wife and kids. The algorithm is useless.

          1. Anne Libby

            I have thought about going back for a group. This sounds like the way to do it (if I ever do, lol). Thanks.

          2. Drew Meyers

            Agree, me too. Groups are 95% of the value of FB to me.

  3. JimHirshfield

    Own versus rent

    1. jason wright

      slave versus free, or free versus slave.

    2. JamesHRH

      How expensive is it to build to own a large audience?

    3. pointsnfigures

      If it flies, or floats, rent it

      1. JamesHRH

        There was a third F in that phrase when I first heard it.

        1. pointsnfigures

          There was, but it’s not the 1980s anymore. We have to change….

          1. JamesHRH

            It made me both laugh and smh. I mean, what kind of narcissistic goon would need that F in that advice.Present Leader of the Free World excepted.Hell, Elliott Spitzer followed that advice and proved that its dumb.A friend of mine laughed and said, ‘ You mean horses, right? ‘

  4. jason wright

    The single reason I do not use these Two platforms is that they set the condition that they own my content. That is unacceptable to me. Where I draw a line in the sand.Is this where we’re headed?:https://www.youtube.com/wat…The concentration of power aggregated to these Two platforms is a challenge to democracy. Too much economic power in the hands of too few is a similar challenge. We see it everywhere. The only thing that holds true in a democracy is the word ‘democracy’.What about human genetics? Do I give up ownership of my code to a mega health platform in return for a cure to some disease found through big data crunching of the total human genome code? I might do that, but I see no comparable gain from these Two platforms.

    1. JamesHRH

      The threat is overstated.In <18’months, my daughter went from ‘ I read this or my friend says ‘ = truth to a total sourcing hardass.People get the democracy they deserve.

      1. jason wright

        you’re right. that single word, ‘democracy’ (it’s become almost a brand), is used as a shorthand to describe every society where people have the opportunity to express a choice from a range of options, and yet those various democratic systems are wildly different in their technical nature and clearly create very different societies and circumstances for their citizens. some democracies are force fed to their citizens, and if they don’t like the taste they starve…politically (and therefore economically). it’s very often a top-down imposition by elites, and if it isn’t working to serve their interests they tweak and tinker with it until it does. Democracy is very ‘malleable’ in the service of power.

        1. JamesHRH

          That last paragraph is a threat & the Electoal College did a nice job of smothering it…….Trump is a deeply dmsgaged perosn but probably an excellent checon’ elites ‘, whomHe never was a part of.

  5. BillMcNeely

    You made me feel guilty writing my post on Medium today

    1. fredwilson

      don’t feel guilty. do something about it. buy a domain. get a shared server. put WP on it. own your content.

      1. JamesHRH

        That’s bad advice.Why would Bill do all that work? What value would he derive from it?He doesn’t have your readership or profile.

        1. Geoff Jones

          Neither did Fred when he started 🙂

          1. JamesHRH

            Neither did anybody when Fred started.Then, he gave away secrets about how VCs worked to build an audience.How many people have content that is that valuable to people?

        2. jason wright

          he would be learning. to do is to learn. handing off responsibility to a provider is the easy option, but not the learning option. it’s empowering, but not without some ‘pain’. people shy away from pain. if your pain threshold is higher you can learn more.

          1. JamesHRH

            I would learn a lot by trying to build my own combustion engine.No dea why I would do that though.

          2. jason wright

            I have no idea why you would want to do that either, and i assume that you already have (or have had) a car with a combustion engine.Fred invests in web tech. He needs to get to grips with the technology. It helps his understanding. It may help to drive the evolution of his thesis. I think it may do exactly that.

          3. JamesHRH

            Bill isn’t in web tech and Fred just told him to do all that work when he can just start a page for his business on FB and start inviting everyone he know.Same with LinkedIn.What’s the benefit to Bill? Its bad advice.

          4. jason wright

            Bill will always be operating without personal sovereignty, and subject to the whims of any changes platforms like FB might arbitrarily make to terms of service.I don’t want to be a digital serf in Zuckerland. Bill might be happy to make that compromise. Many seem to be. Each to their own.Eventually FB will implode. That’s my prediction. Prediction is for fools.

        3. LE

          You are both right for different reasons.Fred is right because this is what Bill does:https://www.trygreenhorn.com/So it’s not a stretch that Bill could benefit from rolling his own. Not sure if Fred knew that or if he was just giving a generic reply.You are right in the sense that it’s true Bill doesn’t have Fred’s profile or readership. And so his time (and the frustration) could be better spent elsewhere if not for what he is trying to do business wise.That said keeping all of this running long term (WP etc.) is non-trivial. It’s not set and forget. There are things to think about. Even Fred has had a few security issues iirc. Fred can tap a network of people to help Bill probably can’t. So it may make sense for someone else to simply write and use another platform. At the time they build an audience they can then segue to their own installation.Also you can easily forward a domain to a medium page if that’s not obvious. So you wouldn’t necessarily lose your audience.

          1. JamesHRH

            Maybe. Tons of small businesses use FB to reach people though.

      2. JamesHRH

        Should Bill start his own 280 character SMS service? Couldn’t resist.:-)

        1. jason wright

          he shouldn’t start a 280 digit authentication SMS service (my resistance has week been weakened by a chest infection. I need some banter this week while I recover).

          1. JamesHRH

            TX getting hammmered by worst flu outbreak in 20’years.Penance for World Series win.

          2. jason wright

            same here in England. I blame globalisation (for everything).

      3. LE

        Also ‘signup and use cloudflare in front of the site’.Name Server: DAN.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COMName Server: JEAN.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM

      4. Jose Paul Martin

        yep, I totally discourage digital sharecropping. I wrote about this of all places on medium – just to make my point: https://medium.com/@jpm/r-i…This is my domain since 2000…. http://jpmartin.com – and you’ve just inspired me to try blogging EVERYDAY… seriously Fred, hat’s off to you for that. You and Seth Godin… amazing!

  6. David Lee

    I can’t believe you’ve been doing this for 15 years every day. I don’t know if there’s anything I’ve done every day for 15 years – not even taking a shower. Seriously. Ok, maybe watching ESPN. Well done and see you soon!

    1. jason wright

      breathe? it’s an ‘oxygen’.

  7. Randall Tinfow

    True.The hybrid seems to work best at this stage – personal blog and syndication. It’s the process of discovery and gaining influence that is the challenge for newcomers with something to say. The alternative is to spout attention grabbing nonsense.

    1. Rob Underwood

      Re “spout attention grabbing nonsense”, the platform that in my mind has become unreadable, and by extension almost unusable, is LinkedIn. All of the “10 reasons you should try to fail every day” or “Why 2018 is the time enterprises must go digital” self-promoting platitudes and banality nonsense.

      1. Anne Libby

        Goodness yes. When you see something on the newsfeed, scroll down, and then can’t scroll back up and find it again?

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        The LinkedIn feed algo is just the worst. I don’t understand why these platforms don’t just show me everything I’m following, then let me mute someone who proves to be spammy or useless.

        1. Drew Meyers

          too much content, you’d never look at it all?

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I figure that not every single person that I follow on LI is posting and reposting there. I would imagine that the feed would be much less intense than FB or Twitter.

      3. LE

        Reid can serve himself a nice big piece of cake [1] for what has happened to linkedin. The lyrics from the Joni Mitchell song come to mind ‘take paradise and put up a parking lot’.https://www.wired.com/2017/…Linkedin has totally lost it’s way. What used to be somewhat valuable as a data source is now all nonsense. Not a day goes by when I don’t get some spamy ridiculous network request. “Cashier at Walmart can we connect?” And they don’t even allow open access to your profile anymore without being logged in. So I can’t even use it to brag about where I went to school![1] That’s a dig in case it’s not clear.

        1. Rob Underwood

          Yes. For years I approached LinkedIn that I’d only connect with people 1) I knew in person, 2) have worked with (why > 1/2 my connects are ex Deloitte or KPMG folks or clients), and 3) would recommend (or at least would not not recommend, if that make sense). I’ve let up on that a bit from pressure from colleagues who insist that that is not the way LinkedIn works now, but I loathe the idea of accepting connects from people I’ve never met in real life. Still today 90% of my LinkedIn connections are people I really know in person. I professional social graphs are better with that level of filter and curation, but it doesn’t work unless everyone sort of takes the same approach.

          1. LE

            I used to broaden it to ‘went to good school’ and ‘works for known/impressive company’ as well as ‘attractive female professional’ (and I am married).Anyway the only advantage of having more contacts than you know is that it makes it harder for competitors to game your contact list of people you actually do business with. Of course you can block access to your contacts but then there are downsides to that.I have a local realtor who sent me a linkedin. I looked through her contact list and saw everyone she knows and deals with. So easy for someone starting out to make a prospect list from that if they hustle. That’s what I would have done back in the day gathering that type of rolodex took a long long time. Likewise I don’t publicize on my linkedin anyone that I deal with that could be of value to a competitor.

    2. JamesHRH

      Almost no one with wide readership built their profile online.YouTube is the only platform that has organic online stars and, um, those people needed YouTube to build an audience.You are pissing in the wind.Start an email newsletter.

  8. JamesHRH

    You should rename Internet 3 as the 1% Internet.

  9. kidmercury

    the larger the market cap, the greater the push to centralize. you’re already seeing this in the crypto space, for instnace in bitcoin as more money came into the network, more and more clamored for faster transactoins which led to bitcoin cash and a substantially larger block size — which in effect further centralizes mining. the fastest transaction times will go to the omst centralized solutions.really there is no need to go back and forth between open and closed. a world in which both coexist is possible, in fact imminent in my opinion, and will offer the optionality of openness and the convenience/usability of closedness.

  10. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I know a lot of people are wary about setting up a ‘self’-hosted WordPress instance. I can recommend a WP-only hosting provider that I use called Pressable (they’re now owned by Automattic). It’s cheap (but not free), and they take care of all the WP concerns like installation, updates, scaling and security. Unlike WordPress.com, you can install Disqus!Because they’re owned by Automattic now, you get all those bene’s like access to the free and paid themes (which are guaranteed not to have gaping security holes), amazing support, and exposure in the WordPress.com Reader feed (if you want).Stick to the approved themes, limit your use of plugins, and you can expect to have a smooth experience without need of paying a developer.(Full disclosure: I used to work at Automattic.)

    1. PhilipSugar

      Thank you, you have inspired me to blog again

  11. William Mougayar

    Agreed, You are the Brand.But until you get there, you may have to use other publishing mediums to gain distribution and awareness.

    1. PhilipSugar

      Very correct Mark Suster wrote about this with Maker Studios.

    2. nicknish

      I love this piece, Fred!But I can’t help but wonder about many content creators who would have never been able to build their careers without the platform giving them visibility.However now many of them are hostage to the platform. It’s a tough balance. Maybe if you’re aiming to grow your audience it’s about hitting multiple channels and not getting pigeon-holed.

    3. Jose Paul Martin

      We all start at 1. A better approach is to think about being a hub and spokes… the hub is your blog, you own it, you own the content, platform, domain etc. And you can distribute to twitter, medium, facebook as spokes. But all lead back to your site.

  12. David A. Frankel

    I think what you are really saying is go big or go home. Contributing to other platforms is just taking a short cut to what you really want. You can say you are a “blogger” or a “contributor” and you can leverage someone else’s brand (which they took some effort and time to cultivate) to elevate your own as a thought leader. But you only have to do it when you want, without the discipline it takes to really be the thought leader you aspire to be. It’s hard work, it is scary, and you might fail or not be good at it. But if you own it, you own it. Good advice.

  13. Michael Elling

    To get to internet 3 one has to go back to the early days of networks, interconnection and universal service and understand better the role of settlements and how they equilibrate value and costs while providing price signals that serve as incentives and disincentives. If anyone is aware of any academic research on this please post or send me. This is vitally important for the next evolution of humanity; namely how to build sustainable and generative digital networked ecosystems that bridge growing imbalances. Read more about equilibrism here on medium http://bit.ly/2iLAHlG or here on my blog http://bit.ly/2A0TzGv.

  14. creative group

    FRED:We are truly humbled to realize you allow the voices even when they shout to hold you accountable and challenge you. We can remember when we first read your blog it was a year before the passing of one of our group members mother passing. (We do allow group members to post a little unnerving but a collective choice) The first comforting medium was visiting this blog and contributors yelling to get off the site and get with family members. They had no idea the AVC blog was becoming family at that very point.We appreciate your Philanthropic endeavors and have supported some. The valleys and peaks of being Fred Wilson the Venture Capitalist has its positives and critics.To whom much is given much is expected.We will continue to hold you down on the right moral moves and respectfully challenge you on questionable decisions that effect many.We consider friendships that are authentic and not manufactured. If you really think people who are lap dogs and agree with everything you do and say is friendship it would be a very distorted view of friendship.True friends tell you the truth and challenge them to be and do better.Thanks again from all of us.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

  15. Mario Cantin

    I like how the recent posts from Fred all tie together into one narrative: while crypto is currently a bubble, it has very serious players in it who are working on making the internet once again open, which it needs to be.

    1. Jose Paul Martin

      yeah, we could start a hashtag #reclaimtheinternet

  16. pointsnfigures

    Been blogging for 8 years and have same thing as you. I share mine to LinkedIn etc, and occasionally write or copy/paste to Medium. But, I find if I just take care of myself and not worry about all the other stuff I am a happier person.What do you get out of blogging? Depends on what you want.

    1. Anne Libby

      Do you feel like cross-posting has any positive results (for you/”the world”?)

      1. pointsnfigures

        On LinkedIn for my purposes, yes. On Medium, no. Sharing it to Twitter and Facebook, yes. Medium is kind of an echo chamber to me.

        1. JamesHRH

          How so?

  17. sigmaalgebra

    Forfeels great to own my archive, my brand, my content, myself. andIt is a bit of work to set this up but the benefits you get are enormous. Yup, but “Look, Ma,(1) I have to do my own computer system — for both development and the first production server — selection, construction, operation, installation, configuration, maintenance, backup and recovery, management, administration, along with my own business idea, problem formulation, problem solution, original research, software design, development, testing, documentation, etc.Yup, the CEO is also the cook, bottle washer, dish washer, janitor, COO, CTO, CIO, CFO, chief programmer, grunt programmer, system and network administrator, etc.(2) But it’s great to own my own business!No funding negotiations, no term sheets, no cap table concerns, no care and feeding, TLC, of poorly informed, nervous BoD Members, no BoD meetings, no BoD packets, no BoD minutes, no lawyers, etc.If my work is good, e.g., good enough that people like it, then I will walk proudly to my bank with a basket of deposit checks or some such.If I do my work poorly, then I will have a much lower standard of living.But always when I worked for others, if I did well, then I created fear and enemies. If I did just medium, then I didn’t make much financial progress. If I did really well, then the anxiety ridden higher ups could fire me, and financially I would do still less well.Net, my progress was blocked by the people in the organization above me: As in the strength of a chain is in its weakest link, unless everyone above me was doing well, and they never were, then I wasn’t doing very well.Net, as far as I can see, to do at all well in the US economy, it is necessary to own your own business — or at least to have something close to that — and have it do well.So, (1) is a pain but doing well at (2) is necessary, and (1) is part of the work to be done.E.g., just this morning I installed the software for my standard, quite good Brother black and white laser printer.So, as usual, from an old remark,If you do the installation just following the documentation, then I’ll guarantee you it won’t work. Yup, and it didn’t work! Why not this time? Because as could be seen via the Windows program Taskmgr, the installation software went to the Internet and started getting the CPU, hard disk, and Ethernet port all busy, busy, busy going all hysterical, overwrought, doing really big, big, big, super important things, downloading whatever, uploading something or other, “registering”, whatever. Well, on that Odyssey, it just got stuck for about 10 minutes, and I cut it off, stopped it, closed it down.So, for the second try, first step, UNPLUG the Ethernet connection to the Internet. So, sure, the software kept saying that it couldn’t get to some Web site, etc. It never said that it finished the install. But, as with this printer going back to old Windows XP SP3, with the Internet disconnected, the install went quickly. There was no message that the install had successfully ended, but I guessed that it had.Uh, the Brother software on the Brother installation CD has worked well for years without bothering about the Internet. It’s standard Windows software and should continue to work well also without anything about the Internet. So, just unplug the Internet.So, I gave a test — had my most important software, KEdit, that gets nearly all my keystrokes, print a file, in this case, just a grocery store shopping list.The printing worked great right away!So, I connected the Ethernet cable again, and the Brother printer software didn’t spontaneously rise, try to save the world or at least my computer, go to the Internet, and get all confused. Instead, the printer is just sitting there, ready whenever I want to use it. And apparently Windows does “see” the printer and do the right things with the print queue, etc.Ah, just UNPLUG the Ethernet cable and force the install to use just what is on the Brother install CD and ignore the Internet! Worked great!!!!Ah, real world system management!That’s how it goes, Ma!”

  18. awaldstein

    Yup–you are living by what you believe in.And for this, I thank you.

  19. Elia Freedman

    I have no stake in this but if you are looking for some one to follow who shares your thinking process, take a look at micro.blog. He’s trying to figure out how to wrestle back control of blogging from the medium’s of the world but still have the social aspects.

  20. bsoist

    I’ve been saying it for years – get your own blog.

    1. JamesHRH

      How many AVC regulars have blogs?Do you honk the readership of all of them equals 15% of the reach of being the top comment on AvC?Blogs are vanity pieces or, justifiable over investment in a thought leadership position, but that’s it.

      1. bsoist

        What I mean when I say it is that I think many comments on other people’s blogs should be blog posts instead. That’s all I mean. Do it in a silo if you want.To answer your questions, though?1. I have no idea?2. Absolutely. I would be surprised if that were not true.RE: vanity piecesFor some, it sure is, and I think they should own their own content. I think using these other silos is fine for a lot of reasons and I think cross-posting makes sense in some cases, but I think owning your own content is a plus.

      2. falicon

        Comments for the most part are ephemeral (and I’m pretty sure they still don’t show up in web searches). So being the ‘top’ comment, even on a widely read blog – is really only a boost within that community (doesn’t hold much reach or power beyond that).Blog posts – even by people without an audience yet – become a part of the public record. So something I’ve written years ago, can be organically found and relevant to someone new today (and thereby boost my brand, credibility, reputation, and potentially my audience at least a little bit).Hosting or not hosting…and what software or blog package you use…is a different sort of discussion that I’m not sure has a “right” answer (that’s more a religious debate in my book).The domain, and access to the content, is what *I* think is important. It should at least have the appearance that you are in control, that you own your content, that if I go to your domain I’ll find your stuff (regardless of what tech sits underneath it).I started blogging using some custom code I wrote a very long time ago…I’ve gone through a few different systems since (painfully porting my data each time)…and the latest version has been powered by tumblr for a really long time…but again, the tech. and hosting part of it really shouldn’t matter (to anyone but the person who has to interact/manage/write the posts and keep the system alive).As far as the value of having your own blog…in my case, I’ve often blogged about a coding solution or concept that I don’t have to encounter very often…so it’s not something I keep in my head…but when it comes up, I know I can search my own blog to refresh my memory (I’ve actually done this a number of times and am convinced blogging to my future self, even if NO ONE else ever reads it, is enough of a use case to make it worthwhile for certain content).All that being said, I used to blog every day (and the habit of it helped a lot when I was writing books, articles, and other stuff more often)…now I probably only publish a blog post on my own domain once or twice a year.I fell out of the habit when I was primarily working on a project I couldn’t really talk about in public (something I *really* try to avoid these days)…and have since fallen into the (bad) habit of just posting a few thoughts here-and-there in comments, social media, and other services as the mood strikes (hence this rambling novel right now).But the history, my history, still quietly sits on my domain. And is available for me to jump back in at any time. I like that (and delude myself into thinking some day I’m going to start blogging more reg. again — though right now I’m more committed and focused on weekly posts within drip for my backers. Who knows, some of that may *eventually* find it’s way onto my blog as well.)

        1. JamesHRH

          You are talking about a diaryMy wife and her peers use classic engineering notebooks.Or her iPad.I sue Notes in my MAC Laptop.

          1. falicon

            But your way, I (or anyone else) can never benefit from your notes…only you can. Blogs allow for the collective knowledge to grow 😉

          2. JamesHRH

            You got me.

  21. Darrell O'Donnell

    Totally agreed. Owning your own content (and sharing broadly via CC!) is key. We don’t own the platforms. I’ve gone “all in” on beginning to own my digital identity as well – via Sovrin (www.sovrin.org) as a global public utility for identity. Tying my content to that will be exciting.Thanks for the great thinking!

  22. David Albrecht

    Middle way: medium with my own top-level domain.Medium’s value prop is substantial. It’s mobile-optimized, offers collaborative editing, it’s hosted, automatic security fixes/updates, great editing experience, etc.If things go sideways on medium, I’ll move to my own hosting (maybe with WP, same domain) and keep the articles at the same URL. For now, I’m sticking with medium. WP is just too much of a pain to manage between endless security problems and ever-changing devices people use to read the web.

    1. Vinish Garg

      Cannot agree more, for Medium. Plus you can target huge user base with right tags, and via specific publications of your interest.

  23. jason wright

    Internet We.I’m calling this future decentralised digital world ‘Internet We’, an homage to ‘We the People’. For me this replaces ‘Net Neutrality’ (never been keen on that term).Bring it on. I’m getting impatient waiting.

  24. Zachary Cohen

    Seems like a great opportunity to build a Medium-like application on top of Blockstack that allows you to store export all of your data to your choice of cloud storage provider(s). Should provide the same benefit as what you get from setting up your own domain and server, but it’d be a lot more accessible to users that are a lot less technical than you are.

  25. JamesHRH

    Hmmmm.Ok, why do successful high end stores rent from high end malls like the Galleria? Or landlords on 5th Avenue?I mean, they can build those attractions to house their stores or buy that building to house their shop.Its why BlockChain makes no sense. The largest benefits – anonymity & ultra low cost global admin – are only valuable to an odd minority.Everybody has friends so everybody is on social media.Not everybody has a need to reinvent their personal financial framework….while actually, most everybody is scared of that idea.

    1. JimHirshfield

      You’re mixing things up. Fred doesn’t own the servers or the software that he uses to power this blog. But he owns the asset that defines this blog: the content and the audience.

      1. JamesHRH

        We agree that the content and the audience are Fred’s.What we disagree on is the basic media industry conundrum of whether content is more important than distribution – John Malone and Ted Turner used to argue about this 25 years ago.It turns out, that superstar level content can call the shots on distribution in the media biz (just check out the lineup of star creatives taking bags of money from Netflix…..and note how they are all established names, not unknowns) but every other producer of content needs distribution. Badly.So, is Bill going to make a living – and a grand living at that – off of his content or is it a tool to build his business? The answer tells you whether he should rent distribution or build it by hand.Hell Louis CK went direct, owns all his content, etc. and how many of his peers looked over the fence and went ‘ Shit, that totally looks like a better plan – take all the financial and operational risk, for about, I don’t know, 20% more in my jeans…….’Almost none ( can’t back this up empirically).Take Ron White, the hardest working man in comedy, who has his own site. Its crap, never updated and has a lousy store that sells a dozen lame items and a DVD. https://tatersalad.com/storeI love Ron White – Foxworthy says he is the funniest IRL person you will ever meet. I am 100% sure that is true. But even he would be better off with a FB page & store, because he is a superstar live performer, but not a superstar content producer.And, how come Shonda Rimes is going to Netflix instead of firing up ShondaTV.com?Last, isn’t Fed subject to WP evils, if they should come to pass?

      2. jason wright

        he’s his own means of production, to paraphrase Marx. we should all be that, or try to be that. that’s how our distant and not so distant ancestors operated their lives, create their personal value, and added value to the lives of those around them. unfortunately modern capitalism has stripped people of their innate virtue as independent beings capable of independent production. we have become unwitting slaves to an intangible force that gravitates to fewer and fewer people. a bit of a definition of dictatorship imo.

  26. Dan Epstein

    Marco Arment’s written about this a few times on marco.org. Here he is in 2013, but it’s held up well.https://marco.org/2013/08/0

  27. Adam Parish

    I’ve used WordPress a ton, but for a couple of years I’ve been using Blogger and while dated I feel like it’s almost like having a self-hosted WordPress site.

  28. Ali Nawab

    such a great post. makes the time spent on setting up my own ghost instance (digital ocean one-click) seem better utilized. now to the tougher part, writing more eloquently 🙂

  29. Scobleizer

    I’m still happy I spent a lot of time for past few years on Facebook and Twitter. I still get more engagement on Facebook than anywhere else. But I do have to admit that you have the better idea.

  30. Phil Hayes-St Clair

    Couldn’t agree more. Platform incentives will rarely align to yours. Started on WordPress.com, got lured to Medium and now I blog each week on self-hosted WordPress. I’ve been doing the latter for four years and notwithstanding the initial set up, I love it.

    1. Vinish Garg

      Likewise. I started with WP 10 years back, till it got hacked in 2016. Writing on Medium now, and again planning to move to WP. I so much want to own my content even though WP may not guarantee that.

      1. Phil Hayes-St Clair

        Exporting posts from Medium was painful (deliberately on their part I imagine) so maybe make the move sooner than later.

  31. george

    You’ve always shown great insights into the future; your strategy has proven out over an extended period of time. I do enjoy some of the other sites, but owning your distribution model builds lots of advantages and richer personalization.

  32. sketharaman

    I too follow the same practice and strongly endorse it. I’ve been posting on a WordPress blog set up on my primary domain that I own for nearly 10 years. Depending upon the topic, I cross-post some posts on Finextra, LinkedIN and MEDIUM. The latter two platforms haven’t provided much distribution but my Finextra posts on fintech typically generate 10X more pageviews than the same posts on my own domain. Setting up my own domain and WordPress blog took a while in the beginning but I’ve now scripted the procedure. As a result, it has become a breeze for me to setup personal websites and blogs for my family members.

  33. jason wright

    Fred, can you share any AVC statistics? For example, how many page views do you get daily, weekly, or monthly…?p.s. ‘Owning Yourself’ – are you turning into some sort of hybrid capitalist Marxist in your golden years?

  34. Kevin Hill

    I know you want blockchain to be internet three, but I can’t see any indication that it would work out that way. I think the way to get back there is the same way we got internet one in the first place: centralized government leadership. Some government out there (hopefully the US, but I’m doubtful) could create that system by doing 3 simple things:1. Provide money for independent groups to create open standards for modern data types that are created by consumers (social post, financial and tax transactions, etc)2. Bring together industry and consumer advocates to help decide on which of these standards are the most useful3. Require companies to both provide data to and receive data from their users in that formatNow value can’t come from ownership of data, which has a winner-take-all dynamic, but rather comes from value-adds on top of that data (curation, analysis, etc)None of those steps need to be perfect, it provides a very easy and clear regulator framework, and uses market forces to create a lot of consumer surplus.