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.