Having a Personal Website.

Update: 2021-04-05

I've been seeing more and more Jekyll, Hugo, other static HTML/markup generated sites. Often they use Github as their host. This gives me mixed feelings. Personal websites are great, and using Github as a host is a cheap and easy way to set up a static host. But, your site now relies on a system controlled by entirely Microsoft. Look, I don't blame anyone for using these systems. They're fast, reliable, and if they do charge for their service, it's pretty cheap. Google and Amazon are really good at what they do. But we gave the power to them. I don't hate their products, but at this point they don't have any competition. No one can really compete in Search or Cloud Services*. (*ok Azure competes).

Using Github as a personal host just gives that information to Microsoft for free. You create the content, they profit from the information. Hell I used Cloudflare as a proxy host so I didn't have my IP address listed online. I was contributing the problem. Personal websites should be a way to break away from these companies.

If you need a good host, try Neocities. Stop feeding the monsters.

Original Post

I started my own personal website a few years ago in order to escape the world of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. So I moved all my posts/images to my own site. Down with Doom Scrolling!

Originally I self hosted on a VM at Digital Ocean. They offer a 1 cpu, 1 GB of ram and 25 GB of storage virtual machine for $5 a month, and a $1 a month back up plan. DO create "Droplets", which are just pre-configured VM images you can deploy quickly to get a service up and running. So for $6 a month, you can self host your own website, and get it up and running really fast.

I do like Wordpress. As a content management system, it's well supported, has many useful plugins, and has been pretty reliable for me over the years. If you're not doing anything too complicated, the update process is simple, and moving between versions is easy. There are some issues with it. Its not the fastest CMS. Most of the "top plugins" are just designed to speed up your site. For a personal site, it's not super important to do any of this. But if you use Jetpack, Wordpress's own "speed up your site" plugin, it will send your site's visitor information to Wordpress's own servers. If you want to move away from "FAANG" tracking, this is really annoying.

If you are running a site for a company, I think Wordpress is a good product. I think personal sites though should feel less "corporate". Creating posts felt like updating a personal status page.

I got inspired by the Small Internet movement. It's a "back to basics" internet movement. The idea is strip away all the unnecessary crap that is plugged into every web page, service, and app you use. The point of a website is to display content. Ex: The Motherfucking Website.

Setting up a simple Apache web server running from home feels like the best solution for me. A place on the internet that is just for the creator and anyone who wants to look. Anytime I want to take the data down, I can just unplug the server.

It could be a placebo, but the feeling of moving on from turnkey solutions to something you built is liberating. You get to set your own content policy, privacy policy, and what information you share with the world. (do you get to call yourself a SysOp if the server is in your house? Or is that only for someone running a BBS? should I set up a BBS?)

I'm thinking of turning my peterjkearns.com site into just a static page with some info about me and a few links. The main point of that page was that my name would have a permanent address online that wasn't attached to a social network.

There are some issues with having a personal site in 2021. If I want my friends to see pictures I've posted, or look at an article I've linked, then I have to alert FB/Twitter that a new post is up. A personal web site is like screaming in to the void, then again, so are status updates. Also comment sections are the worst.


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