In my ongoing effort to consider my digital identity and all that it entails (including, but not limited to, privacy and control over my data), I’ve been migrating some of my cloud-hosted services over to my self-hosted drdamian.org domain. This process started in 2008, when I moved this blog from Edublogs to a self-hosted WordPress installation, then continued in 2009, when I moved my online professional portfolio from Wikidot to another self-hosted WordPress site. That was about it until fairly recently, when I began exploring free and/or open-source alternatives to some popular cloud services.
Unbeknownst to me then (but beknownst to me now), I wasn’t alone in my thinking. This was/is part of a larger online movement called Project Reclaim (more on this later).
Anyone who uses cloud services – especially free ones – assumes a certain level of risk that the service will one day disappear. I’ve lost count of the number of services I’ve used that no longer exist (e.g., Quillpill, MyEmailReminders, PingMe), but they were all replaced easily enough. The one that really impacted me (and many others) was Google’s decision to pull the plug on its RSS app, Reader. I used Feedly for a while after that, and while I had no real complaint with the service, it always irked me a bit that I might lose access – yet again – to an app that was a major part of how I consume and share information.
That, coupled with the desire to start tinkering a bit and using all the hosting I was paying for anyway, led me to seek out some alternatives to the free cloud-based services I enjoyed, but feared losing. I’ll detail some specific examples in my next post, but for readers who are thinking along the same lines, I recommend checking out OSALT and AlternativeTo; these sites are wonderful directories for searching for alternative services and applications of all types.
While I realize that I’m still very much at the mercy of my webhost, my hope is that the more services I can maintain “in house”, as it were, the more control I can exercise over my information consumption and sharing, and the less I am at the whim of external forces.