The open web continues to remain important, regardless of how much ink it gets. But every once in a while, something happens, and that event throws a light on why the open web is so important.
At the end of June, Dennis Cooper, (an experimental artist), found that his blog, including an entire decade’s worth of his content, was deleted by Google. I currently have a client who wrote an article for the Huffington Post and wanted to highlight that article on his newly rebuilt website. It’s gone. Not on the Huffington Post, not in Google’s search results anywhere, not on archive.org. Completely gone.
If you care about your content, on any level, (and surely you do, because you took the time to create it), don’t post it on a closed platform alone. Not Facebook, not Twitter, not AudioBoom, not SoundCloud, or any number of closed platforms that have come and gone over the years. If you want to post links to it on these platforms for the exposure, fine. But by all means, don’t turn over ownership of content you’ve created to anyone who’s not you. And that’s exactly what you’re doing when you post your content solely on closed platforms like Medium and the like. You’re getting exposure in exchange for content ownership, and, (depending on the terms of service for each platform), you’re handing over the usage rights, and you’re granting these platforms the right to use your content, your hard work, however they like. And it’s not their job to keep your content safe by backing it up for you.
Yes, hosting your content yourself has its inconveniences. You have to work for exposure. You have to learn how your self-hosted platform, (like WordPress or Drupal), works, so that you can add content. But at the end of the day, that content remains yours, and you control who does what with it. So if you’re willing to spend time creating that content, spend the extra time ensuring that you own it, and can therefore safeguard it.