Why Have a Web Site in 2019?

Adam, why on earth do you have a website? Wait... Is this a blog? It's 2019, why don't you just use Facebook?!

I've wanted to have my own website for a long time mostly because I like playing with technology. I think it's cool that I can make a few files on a computer in my closet available for the entire world to see. The web has become a near-necessity in our daily lives and it's only been around for a couple of decades. That has always fascinated me enough to drive me to see if I can do it on my own. I started self-hosting my own web server about a year ago now and it's been an awesome study in the way all of the tech we use on the web works.

A written website is also a good way to keep up on my writing skills. I've graduated college and won't be writing essays for the foreseeable eternity. Which is fine except that I have no reason to write creatively or formally anymore. Having this site encourages me to continue turning thoughts into words, even though it's more casual than a term paper.

This extends into the professionalism of a personal website. Normally you can't point your employer towards your Twitter profile as the distillation of your online footprint. Having a website, especially one that separates professional and personal interests, is ten times better than a resume, especially in the world of technology. It lets you tell people exactly who you are and what you do, without forcing them to navigate through an auth wall or a bunch of puppy photos. Your professional and personal lives don't bleed together quite as much and it makes for a kick-ass business card.

Most importantly however, I enjoy the level of control that I gain with creating and operating my own website, something I have also sought for a long time. In high school I set up an old Dell from my school's recycling center with Windows XP and Microsoft Internet Information Services. It didn't have SSL or even a domain name but it was reachable over the WAN. I set up an upload system so that my friends and I could 'post' memes and funny messages for each other on raw html pages written with Microsoft Word. That was the extent of its functionality. It was slow, insecure, and went offline every time the router got a new IP assigned to it. But I didn't care. It was a site the school couldn't block. It had no name and no rules and nobody could tell us what to do with it because it was ours. And we called it the Troll Nexus Center because that's what you do when you're 15

My reasons then for building the Troll Nexus Center still stand now. Having your own website is having your own piece of internet property. I first heard this wording from Luke Smith over on his YouTube channel and it's one-hundred percent true. Tumblogs, Google Sites, Facebook profiles, and GitHub Pages are all like renting an apartment. Sure, there are some really nice apartments out there but it's not the same as owning your own home. You have to pay rent obviously, and rent is subject to change once your lease is up. If anything breaks you text your landlord and wait to have it fixed. You aren't allowed to fix it yourself and sometimes it doesn't get fixed at all. And of course you're limited by how much you can customize things to your own liking. Whether it's painting walls or knocking them down.

These limitations may or may not apply to you. Whether you're paying for storage, server space, metrics, or watching an ad every five seconds, these services aren't free either. And you certainly can't fix everything that goes wrong with them. I started on Google Sites. It's a truly fantastic system. Building a site is like putting a PowerPoint slide together. I just plain outgrew it. There were too many things I wanted to do that I simply couldn't. I was also at the mercy of Google's constant change. After I finished constructing my first site, Google announced they would be shutting down the old Google Sites in favor of an entirely new platform under the same name. Weeks of work got thrown out the window. You might also not care about ads or customization. You may be intimidated by doing things yourself and prefer that the landlord take care of everything. Personally, I like the challenge and the craftsmanship that comes with doing something myself. And I like being in total control of my server, site, and content. Not from a tinfoil hat perspective but from a "gosh I really wish I could just share more than 15 gigabytes of family video with my relatives in New York and Ohio" perspective.

So that's why I created my own website. If you want to know how I host my own website, look for another post about my server setup where I'll explain everything I'm hosting and how I got it all hooked up. And that's a wrap. Now you know why I'm here instead of somewhere else online. Sure, I do have Facebook and YouTube accounts but I don't frequently update anything on either of them. This site is my home online. It's where I keep all of my interests, hobbies, and memories for sharing with others.

Now you know where to find me. If you want to keep up with me, be old-fashioned and subscribe to my RSS feed.