My content but whose servers?

I’m taking a little break from skiing right now and thought I’d hammer out a post I’ve been thinking about for awhile.

Back in the late 90s when I first started publishing our family website (maybe it was a blog) I used Dreamweaver and I hosted my content (text and pictures and videos) on a pc in my house.

My pc started having issues and so did the dsl connection. So I moved the site to a 3rd party hosted provider. I bought something like 5 gigs and I think I paid $25/month-ish.

Gradually I moved off of Dreamweaver and moved to an open source project called Gallery. And I hosted it with another hosting provider. Now I didn’t have to deal with manually create thumbnails, templates or slideshows.

But there were so many drawbacks to this setup. I still couldn’t email photos to Gallery from my phone. The slide shows were ugly. I couldn’t embed photos on a blog. Search was busted. I couldn’t easily do a bunch of stuff. There wasn’t an api.
So in 2005 I moved my photos to flickr. And my videos went to veoh and vimeo.

I lost something during that migration from a self hosted system with my own software to a 3rd party platform. I guess I lost some control. For example flickr could change their entire UI tomorrow.

And I guess instead of Tumblr I could download wordpress or drupal and host my own blog on my own hardware.

But I think I gained a lot more when I moved my stuff to other platforms. The flickr api has enabled all sorts of things. My friends are on flickr so I can easily see their new pix. The same is true for video.

And tumblr is way more social, beautiful and extensible than if I hosted my own blog myself. All of these services are getting better and better at a very fast pace. And they work with 3rd party software easily. For example, Boxee let’s me wach my flickr pix on my big screen.

Today I can email photos and videos from my blackberry bold to this tumblr powered blog. And I can listen to great music in my tumblr dashboard from all of the folks I follow on tumblr. Its just awesome.

I’m finding the same to be true with other stuff too. We manage and host our own email at Spark. But I wish we switched to gmail (which is where my personal email goes). Yes we would lose some control but we would gain so much more.(I don’t think I need to spell out why gmail is better than msft exchange).

And I back up all of our family data on to amazon s3. My server at home isn’t nearly as scalable or suitable for my needs anymore.

There will always be the need for us ealry adopters to stay on the bleeding edge and build and develop our own stuff. For example I’m determined to install an asterisk server in my house in 2009.

But then I wouldnt be able to use PhoneTag.

Something to think about.

(Wrote this post on the blackberry using markdown. So pls forgive any typos or screwed up links. I’ll probably go back to this post later and clean it up)