Chapter 5: The Death of the Personal Homepage

Back in 1996, when the internet finally exploded into the main stream, personal websites popped up all over. Angelfire and Geocities were highly populated with "new neighborhoods" added every week. Unfortunately, where the people are, is where the money follows.

Everyone probably can agree now how commercialized the Internet is in present day. The idea of coming across someone's personal homepage is far less accepted than major ".com" sites. Instead, the personal sites have all been sized down to the blogosphere. In a sense, what happened to personal websites is that the static data is now gone. Meaning you won't find the typical pages of the 90s, pictures-bio-poems-cams-pets-thoughts-guestbook-etc.

Actually, it's not that those types of sites are gone so much as segregated into multiple profiles. For the most part the personal website of today is a blog with dynamic links to other sites which house the "static" data of the personal websites. All the data is housed now in sites like Flickr, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Etc.

Also, based off the context of the content presented by most people, personal blogs or whatnot no longer are about personal expression so much as networking. I don't see this as a bad thing necessarily but just rather limiting. Before, it used to be me and the void so you tended not to care so much about what you expressed or said or shared.

Now, it's very intentional and usually directed with intent. So when I move from site to site now, I feel a loss of intimacy in those sites....mine included. It's far more about expanding the scope of viewership and getting exposure than anything else.

One thing I can say is that the more personal and transparent you are about your life on your site, the more people feel connected and want to stay connected. Again, one of the greatest limitations I face right now with trying to shield my personal identity from merging with my meta.

That might crumble soon. I'm not sure.


Jemimus said...

Good observations. We talked about this a lot the other day of course. But its a good point about homepages vs the "new" homepage, that consists mostly of a blog, serrounded by other meta-data and status update type info.

I think that we are also seeing Forums become less popular, and being replaced by the kind of conversational methods exposes by your Myspace "friends comments", or Facenbooks "wall" and Twitter of course, though that is still decidedly more alpha-geek right now.

What most people out there want to do, seems to be mostly fulfilled by what a standard kinda of social network profile seems to offer. And even though Myspace and Facebook allow you to blog, those features are not very obviously present, and hardly used.
I feel that those of us who used to have Geocities sites now have blogs overall, and that for the rest world, its enough to do a bit of chatting via their social profile.

So what I mean with that, is I dont think there has been a -decline- in the kind of
intimacy. Its just that there are now so many more people online, that would never have made a homepage in the first place, it kinda drowns out those of us who, back in the day, felt compelled enough to speak out and to be "intimate" that we now have switched to blogs on the whole, but are now only a small part of all the people out there.

And the difference is that people like us DO have homepages. They are, indeed, our Blogs. But the key difference between us and all the "rest" of the people that only have profiles, is that our focus and primary means of outlet is still the blog content.

The Blog and the blogging remains central, all the new social networking stuff is, litterally in most cases, off to the sides :)

This, to me at least, is the defining difference between those who have something to say, and those who just have a profile.