Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hosted vs. Unhosted: decide where your content goes

Centralised, hosted platforms are convenient. For me this is the main reason why people moved to Google Services instead of running their own infrastructure.
A couple of years back, I switched to Google to host my emails. Wonderful — I no longer had to spend hours to configure spam filters myself, and gone were the worries the server could go down over-night. However, as I realised, with that smart move, I also gave up a fair bit of freedom. By outsourcing my email to Google and my file backup to Dropbox, I no longer have direct control over my data. I can only access it through the interfaces Google or Dropbox provide.

Decentralised, unhosted platforms however, let you decide where your content goes, when it becomes public and when it gets removed. This requires some manual intervention but gives you full freedom and control over your data. By the way, the internet was originally designed as a decentralised system, so anyone can host their website on a home-computer. However, there is no doubt that those unhosted platforms need to become easier to use.

It’s easier to reach your audience using a platform that has a huge community, such as Medium. It’s more likely your article gets read by new people on an established platform, than your self-hosted version that nobody knows about. However, the freedom argument kicks in here too. By hosting publications yourself, you can decide how you want to promote them. You can still use Twitter, Facebook or Medium to get the word out.


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