April 28, 2008

Outsourcing the Personal

Filed under: networks,writing — jrice @ 7:49 am

Zeldman on outsourcing content of the personal website. The homepage has vanished. My concept of “Cyborgography” quickly became outdated as homepages yielded to blogs. Then Twitter. Then Facebook. Social networking, whose identity depends on the ambiguous concept of being “social,” desocialized the homepage. Making the homepage uncanny, as I wrote, opened up various code based possibilities for identity construction. I didn’t yet see that this coding would be database driven and not user generated (i.e., javascripts and DHTML).

Mine is not the desire to lament. Zeldman writes:

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Not every person who designs websites needs to run a personal magazine on top of all their other responsibilities. If your goal in creating a personal site way back when was to establish an online presence, meet other people who create websites, have fun chatting with virtual friends, and maybe get a better job, well, you don’t need a deep personal site to achieve those goals any more.

True. But we might thing about this a bit more. While the homepage vanished (“My name is….I do…Here is a picture of my cat….”), the online presence expanded. You don’t need a personal site to send sporadic updates over your cellphone, tell your Facebook friends you just saw a movie, post pictures of your cats with annotations and various tags describing them, share music, and other such matters. The networked identity spread outward and away. It is built out of nodes, hubs of moments and information. Not to lament the loss of “page” based thinking, but we can broaden networked thinking as content fragmented, dispersed, expansive, connected and disconnected.

1 Comment

  1. It’s interesting that I stumbled across this this morning because I am scrambling to put together a spring term (that is, the first short semester in the summer) version of “Writing for the World Wide Web,” and one of the things I decided a while ago without thinking about it that much was to get rid of the “your personal homepage” assignment. I still think it’s important to learn some html and css, so I have some assignments designed to do that, and I am going to have a couple of other things going on in that class. But yeah, the idea of having a personal homepage seems kind of irrelevant all of a sudden. Interesting how that happens without thinking about it.

    Comment by Steven D. Krause — April 30, 2008 @ 6:13 am

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