If anything exemplifies why people should publish directly and independently to the web as much as possible, it has to be the flak over the library's perceived censorship
of Blogger based publishers (whether or not there was any actual
censorship has yet to be determined - the library is blaming bandwith
). When people are "herded" to and operate from places like Blogger or MySpace all it takes is one switch by anyone to instantly censor millions of users.
Publishing directly to the web gives you so much more latitude. It's always driven me a little nutty that people are enthralled by easy-publish host providers that limit expression. Why do that? To publish directly to the web, all anyone needs is a little HTML knowledge, Notepad (or another favorite text editor), and an FTP client. We're talking an hour at best to learn how to bold and italicize text in HTML. And trust me, if you really dig that chaotic nutzoid style presentation, those horrible MySpace pages are just as easy to generate in raw HTML.
Granted, it may cost a small recurring fee for the hosting, but anyone putting together a great blog on Blogger or Typepad is probably taking it seriously enough that the expense is a digestible cost for something they enjoy doing that much
. You buy a domain, establish your hosting, pick your tools and learn to use them - and that's it. Nowadays many web hosting providers include blog publishing applications with their hosting plans.
This begs the question: What has any of this got to do with being better protected against censorship? If they censored the blogs on Blogger, what would stop them from censoring an independently hosted blog? To understand why, you have to appreciate the reason many of these middle men publishing sites are targeted for action. Many institutions react to the media's
idea of the wild web, not the wild web itself
. The media thinks MySpace is wild and dangerous even though, really, any
web publishing entity can be. But if the media thinks MySpace
is dangerous, guess what, institutional bureaucrats sensitive to public outcry react by blocking MySpace. Not some offender's specific MySpace profile, or your profile. No, they block the whole damn service. You go down because a few people you don't even know like posting porn or baiting kids for sex. Keeping an independent publishing schema keeps you somewhat immune from the latest "fad danger" in that while places like Blogspot and MySpace are web places
, your site is in fact the web itself
But there are scores of technical and professional reasons to publish independently as well, most of which root in the fact that your effort comes off more professional and the fact that you have much more creative control. You do
need to learn the tools, but that's always
the case with web publishing even if it's to add obnoxious auto-play music or over-sized graphics to your MySpace page. There are just as many ways to screw up an independently hosted site as there are to screw up a MySpace one.
Some people who know exactly what I'm talking about are going to be impulsed to comment along the lines of "Yes Dave, I'm a techie web programmer of 20 years, but here's why I use Blogger anyway...". Really, I'd be very interested in the reasons for that. Drop a comment
If you're someone who's just publishing vis a vis Blogger, Blogspot, Myspace, or some other such service, why not check out Secrets of Self Taught Web Developers
. It speaks to people who want to start careers in web development but it's really a primer for people who just want to do their own thing on the web period. In reading it, it pretty much describes my own track - and one I highly recommend.