my hosting/publishing/sharing setup

Time for another reclaim project update, after nuking my Flickr account. What am I running, and what is my workflow? Well, I’m running almost everything on my Hippie Hosting Co-op account, including:

  • my main blog
    • all media is posted there – either in a full blog post, or in the ephemeral media section
    • I use a bunch of plugins, all listed on my colophon page
  • links (running a self-hosted copy of Scuttle )
  • rss reader ( Fever˚ )
  • url shortener (Shaun Inman’s lessn, with no tracking or administration)
  • feed2js, for doing fun things with rss feeds on web pages
  • about mini-site. static html.
  • 1998-style home page, using my instance of feed2js to tie in feeds in a handy dandy dashboard

Most of my posts are made as photos using the WordPress app on my iPhone. I have it in the main app bar, so it’s always just one click away. Photos are lately taken most often using the great 6×7 app on my phone (not owned by Facebook, not tied to any service – all it does is take a photo quickly, and save it to my camera roll where I can quickly post it using the WordPress app).

My default category for new posts is “ephemera” so I don’t have to select any categories when posting photos from my phone. I use a plugin that I wrote, which filters all “ephemera” posts from the front page and main feed so that the 4 subscribers aren’t inundated by photos. I use a second plugin that I wrote that tells the Twitter WordPress plugin to tweak the tweet announcing posts – so “ephemera” posts have “(media)” inserted in the twoot to prevent Scott from blowing a gasket at all of the tootbot noise…

Bigger “real” posts (like this one) are written using the WordPress web interface. I used to use MarsEdit, which is really great software and I love it, but WordPress’ interface has gotten good enough that I really don’t need a separate app. And, with the Markdown QuickTags plugin, it’s actually easier and faster to use the native web interface. It also handles media uploads really nicely, which is handy (and the biggest reason I used to use a separate standalone app for writing stuff – the media uploads used to be easier that way).

The only things I’m not hosting myself are my Google account (which isn’t used much, and I still use DuckDuckGo for 99% of my searching because it doesn’t feed the beast), my Facebook account (which only exists because I have family and friends that don’t exist online outside of Facebook), and Twitter (which is like ephemeral social glue).

One nice thing about running everything on my own (co-op hosted) server, is that I can back everything up at once. I can use something like rsync to suck my entire hosting account directory onto my laptop, so I’ve got a backup in case Bad Things Happen. That’s hard, or impossible, using distributed hosted services…

What have I lost by hosting it myself? Not much. Some of the community connections, perhaps, but most of that has been happening in Twitter anyway, so that’s not a big deal.

What have I gained by hosting it myself? I own it. Nobody can say “hey. we sold our company to these guys. good luck with that.” And nobody – nobody tracks what people do here. I have the static apache logs, but that is a crude and completely anonymous aggregate of activity. Nothing directly feeds Google’s (or any other company’s) machines for tracking and monitoring and monetizing (I don’t use any third-party analytics packages, so there shouldn’t be any tracking except from YouTube and Vimeo hosted videos). That’s worth doing it all myself, right there.

Worst case scenario, if Hippie Hosting Co-op’s orbiting server platform goes offline for some reason, almost everything I publish becomes temporarily unavailable. That’s not really a big risk. The world could do with a little less noise. And, eventually, my stuff would become available again and balance would be restored. Whew.

update: I thought of some other key tools that I use that I’m not hosting myself, but would love to find a way to do so:

  • google docs. no way out of this one, aside from emailing documents around again. nope.
  • evernote (I basically live in this, but am kind of queasy about the amount of my private/secure data that’s residing on a company’s servers somewhere)
  • dropbox – I’ve played with owncloud, but it’s just not as seamless as dropbox, especially for automagically syncing across many devices
  • icloud – likely no way out of this one. it’s an email account and iOS backup, but also tied to Ping, GameCenter, and other things Apple.

and other services that are hosted elsewhere but I just don’t care because they’re meaningless (but I’d consider nuking them just to throw a shoe into the machinery of ubiquitously tracking everyone):

  • linkedin. really? do people actually use this?
  • facebook. it’s full of people. and creepy monitoring/monetizing.
  • likely a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember because they’re silly and meaningless web 2.0 noise…

20 replies on “my hosting/publishing/sharing setup”

  1. I am heading, though more slowly than you, on a similar trajectory. Back to 1998, my stuff, my web pages, my (hosted) server. Not liking being charged for sharing, and WP is the Good Zone. I don’t code, so it’s a little glitchier, but though it doesn’t make me feel happy to leave services, I do like setting up my own.

    1. many of the little tweaks and hacks I’ve done are not at all necessary. stock wordpress would do the job just fine.

      I really regret allowing myself to get lulled by the siren song of “free” hosted services. It was both the renaissance, with people posting and sharing in new ways, and the dark ages, with people and content getting sucked into corporate silos… hindsight makes this all clear, after the fact. hopefully not too late.

  2. Ah, your posts inspired me to take back control and get everything reclaimed. Got a simple server instance over at rackspace and took back my blog (which was pointed at tumblr). This allowed me to import old archived posts from other blogs of mine.

    For now, there are some things I’ll keep hosting on other infrastructures, namely email(google apps) and pictures(flickr). They still get backed up to my computer and I’m actively looking for ways to better do so.

    I’d actually try my hand at hosting those two things myself, but on previous occasions I had to take my own hosts offline to save money (I was living in Mexico at the time; even a cheap VPS is a luxury) so I’m hedging my bets, I guess.

    1. awesome. balancing risks is good. everyone will find their own ideal combination of tools and services. the main thing is that you’re comfortable with it, and that you feel in control of what you’re doing. that’s fantastic!

      of course, if the server hosting my account melts down, or the company folds, or the hippie hosting co-op is the target of a hostile takeover, everything I do online would disappear. for awhile, at least. I could always restore from a backup by setting my domain to point to another server. tedious, but not the end of the world.

      for cost, check out the hippie hosting co-op. we’re renting a dedicated virtual server from mediatemple, and reselling access to it extremely cheaply. total no-profit organization, run by some people who just want to help people manage their own stuff (disclosure – I’m one of the hippie wranglers 🙂 )

      1. I’ve looked at the hippie hosting co-op and it looks really nice. Thing is, right now I prefer to control my own server (even if it’s just a cheap VPS) to learn how to properly administer one and make it a goal of mine to keep it alive for as long as I possibly can. My previous efforts petered out before even six months were up.

        Right now I think I’ll be stepping up to 2-factor authentication for my email, and renew my flickr pro account for the images, just to be on the safe side.

  3. D’Arcy, I’m in awe… not just that you would take control of your own stuff, but at the raw energy it took you to rip it out of the hands of others and reclaim it. I’m speaking for the vibrating underbelly of the movement you’ve begun (okay, maybe a movement of 1 or a few at the moment). I intend to take control of my own content too, and due in no small measure to what you’ve done. Proud to know you, and I hope to follow your great example — not tomorrow, but soon.

    1. thanks, rick. once I started down the path, it was just an exercise in logic. if control of my own stuff is important, the reclaim project becomes just a bunch of implementation details. It’s surprisingly easy to host everything myself (with a little help from my hippie co-op friends), without settling for the hosted and invasive silos.

  4. re: google docs – I agree with not giving up on the network authoring piece, but a few other possibilities would be either Zoho Docs or self-hosted etherpad-lite. The issue is of course that others don’t use these, so when someone sends a google doc link to you you’d still need to use it there, but at least when it is you starting the doc, you’d get a little freedom (and with etherpad, could do away with accounts for collaborators too if you wanted.) A self-hosted wiki might also serve in this regard.

    Both evernote and dropbox are hard ones, agreed. But you’ve done a great job even leaving these out. As always, thanks for your amazing leadership by example. Scott

    1. interesting. I’ll definitely check that out. I’m finding I don’t really need the live online editing as much as I thought I did. falling back on using other tools to share documents at work.

    2. On the live-editing note: I have a client project coming up this summer where we’ll be exploring integrating Etherpad into WordPress – and explicitly doing it as a project to give away as free software. I think this would be a huge step for those trying to reclaim their Google Docs (this is one area where I haven’t gotten much traction myself).

  5. Thankyou for cutting through the undergrowth. A path to follow. I think the issue is about friction.The success of the Facebot is the assumed frictionlessness, in the 60´s/70´s people abandoned food for convenience food, and later woke to cold TV dinners. Now we are in the same process with other froms of nourishment. Give me comvenience or give me death as the Dead Kennedys put it. Thankyou for bringing back the friction.It should be hard work to communicate, it is too important for it not to be.

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