Some folks are adamant that you should own your own words when you publish online. For example, to explain why he doesn't use services like Quora, Branch, and Google-Plus, Dave Winer says: "I'm not going to put my writing in spaces that I have no control over. I'm tired of playing the hamster." As someone who went through puberty with social media, it is hard to relate to this sentiment. I have only ever "leased," from the likes of LiveJournal (middle school), Myspace (middle school), Facebook (high school), and Twitter (college). Dave Winer's Internet is not the Internet I grew up with, and it as been an amazing place thus far. That being said, I recognize my relative ignorance and naivety and want to understand, what am I missing? Why should I care about ownership of the space where I share my thoughts online, if I ultimately still "own" those words? Thanks! P.S. Branch threads are now embeddable so if you share you words here you can take them with you wherever you'd like.

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Owning Your Own Words – Is It Important? Josh Miller

  •  Anil Dash
  •  Jason Goldman
  •  Gina Trapani
  •  MG Siegler
  •  Paul Ford
  •  Rod Begbie
  •  Mathew Ingram
Josh Miller

Some folks are adamant that you should own your own words when you publish online. For example, to explain why he doesn't use services like Quora, Branch, and Google-Plus, Dave Winer says: "I'm not going to put my writing in spaces that I have no control over. I'm tired of playing the hamster."

As someone who went through puberty with social media, it is hard to relate to this sentiment. I have only ever "leased," from the likes of LiveJournal (middle school), Myspace (middle school), Facebook (high school), and Twitter (college). Dave Winer's Internet is not the Internet I grew up with, and it as been an amazing place thus far.

That being said, I recognize my relative ignorance and naivety and want to understand, what am I missing? Why should I care about ownership of the space where I share my thoughts online, if I ultimately still "own" those words?

Thanks!

P.S. Branch threads are now embeddable so if you share you words here you can take them with you wherever you'd like.

Anil Dash

Great framing on the question, Josh - I think your insight that these values date to an era of the web that precedes most people's participation in the social web is very astute.

So, I try to be pragmatic about these things. I might be wrong in my preference for having my content on sites I own; It might just be an orthodoxy within the old-timers club that I talk to. But if we put aside the political belief, let's focus on what's *possible* to do on the web.

Right now, the "hamster wheels" Dave refers to are what I think of (in public policy/urban design parlance) as "captive atria". (c.f. dashes.com ) These are spaces that businesses own, which can be used in quasi-public ways. But they prohibit useful behaviors which are allowed in truly public spaces.

Those behaviors include dissent, useful impersonation (like Improv Everywhere), many transgressive forms of artistic expression, and many other forms of speech that help move culture forward. That's a huge loss.

Anil Dash added Gina Trapani.
Jason Goldman

I'm sensitive to the useful impersonation point because with both Blogger and Twitter we were careful to make sure parody was permitted (Fake Steve Jobs on Blogger, Fake ... everyone on Twitter.)

I guess you could react to that and say "those services allowed that but I don't want to live by their noblesse oblige." And I imagine there are other content rules that you may disagree with.

But it seems somewhat arbitrary to say it's the content platform rules that matter most. Even if you have your own homegrown blogging platform, you're still hosted somewhere. You're still bound by the rules of someone else's terms of use.

Josh Miller added MG Siegler.
Gina Trapani

For me, publishing on a platform I have some ownership and control over is a matter of future-proofing my work. If I'm going to spend time making something I really care about on the web--even if it's a tweet, brevity doesn't mean it's not meaningful--I don't want to do it somewhere that will make it inaccessible after a certain amount of time, or somewhere that might go away, get acquired, or change unrecognizably.

When you get old and your memory is long and you lose parents and start having kids, you value your own and others' personal archive much more.

MG Siegler

I actually came across this in a different way recently — a startup, Hyperink, wanted to publish an eBook that was a collection of my previous posts. No brainer, until I realized that technically AOL now owns a majority of the things I've written online (after their purchase of TechCrunch in 2010). They were totally cool with me repurposing the content — kudos to them — but it's interesting that I did have to ask. And it makes sense — they paid me to write those words.

I guess my point is that while I do actually value owning my own words, I've also spent the majority of my career not actually owning my own words.

I'm with Gina, the most important thing it future-proofing. I want to make sure that content (no matter where it resides) doesn't just vanish one day. Good services let you export: Tumblr, Svbtle, others. But what if TechCrunch no longer exists one day? That's a lot of work gone.

Sorta related: I really hope someday Twitter lets me see my entire history of tweets.

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