The last few weeks FaceBook has spread like a wild fire througout Norway. The major newspapers have started to pick up on the trend and having read their many articles to the praise of FaceBook, I feel like reflecting a little.
Back in 1999/2000 a social networking site called eCircles was on the rise. A group of friends including myself had started to use eCircles for the purpose of maintaining social relations, putting up shared message boards and even for writing a novel. In most respects, eCircles was near identical to the social networking sites of today. And it was functioning very, very well for us. One of us was going to university over in London, another was in South Africa and the rest of us were distributed around Norway.
Then in early 2001 it was announced that eCircles.com would seize to be and that services would be shut down permanently on the 15th of April. All content would go away with it.
There wasn’t any easy way to export content from eCircles except to go through the site item by item, browse it and copy/paste it into another application. Also bandwidth wasn’t what it is today back then and the process of retrieving all the content was hopelessly slow and inefficient. Additionally, there was nowhere else to put the content online once you saved it. And so most of our content was lost never to be seen again.
Since then I’ve become extremely cautious of hosted services on the Internet. I want to control the server-end of things myself or have someone I know do it for me. For this reason I do not put a lot of content into Orkut, Friendster, MySpace, Windows Live Spaces or Facebook. Because they come and go.
Once an online service gets shut down for this, that or the other reason, it takes more than just a simple reinstallation to get back on track. With the service gone the content is gone with it and thereby the efforts put into the system from my side.
Instead of running my blog off a hosted blog site on the Internet I’ve therefore chosen to run my homepage off a local server. This way I can control things, I can take action if something goes wrong; in short – I trust the service.
So what am I missing out on? Marketing of for one. Had I written my blog on an online blogging platform, the number of readers prone discover and take interest in my blog would be much greater than what is the case with my detached system.
But thats the price I pay.