Personal Domains as Apps


I keep wondering what to do with this site.

For a long time, I’ve been an advocate for folks having their own domain and using that as a “blog” of some sort to share ideas, thoughts, creations, stories, writings, photos, videos etc. When I was a middle school teacher, I was especially insistent about this to the point of having all of my students set up blogs for their portfolios (many of which still use the domains they set up years ago according to my Feedly account, which is great to see).

However, we are moving from an era of writing-for-the-web first into a nascent ecosystem of writing for an app first. Rather than concentrating on their websites as well developed marketing vehicles complete with many pages, subpages, and temp landing pages, many of my marketing clients these days (at least the smart ones that listen to me) are focusing on the notion that the mobile web (and / or apps) is the more profitable place for focus.

We’re watching companies like Google, Dropbox, Yahoo, and Facebook break down their once monolithic web portals into divergent apps that separate out their photo, newstream, chat, and video components. Even companies like Twitter have Vine. It’s a fascinating phenomenon that will only accelerate in the coming months and years as the web continues to change and bifurcate its various evolutionary chains. The web that my four and six year old knows will be very different than the web I’ve known for twenty years because of this evolutionary path as well as the rise of wearables, the web in our vehicles, and the “internet of everything” that will continue to bring transformations to our human dwellings.

In the meantime, I’ve been wondering about the nature of this personal namespace. I still think everyone should have a personal domain that they call their own. I love and cherish the idea of a web that is federated and based on a model of flowing river that routes around problems rather than being a flow of syrup that is held up by any barrier that is put up by walled gardens and monolithic user experiences. However, that’s not in the schadenfreude of 2014. I’m constantly caught up in the ease and reliability of using Facebook or Twitter as my blog, Instagram as my photo sharing service, and GOogle+ as my repository for photos and videos that are for family only.

But what if there’s a middle ground?

What if personal domain blogs (or portfolios if you will) have the possibility to be “apps” that represent our own content and offer an experience of who we are to interested people? What if these types of personal blogs like what you’re reading is less of a blog in the 2005 sense, and more like a “sam harrelson” app that gives glimpses into thoughts that I want to communicate and share? It’s a matter of semantics, to be sure, but in this case words do matter.

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