I wanted to revisit what I discussed in a recent post “I highly recommend getting away from all these “services” like Google and Yahoo“.
I still recommend that it is best to try to get several things on your own:
1. Domain name
2. E-mail account
3. Web server
Getting a domain name costs about $15 per year. Owning your own domain, like xyz.com is nice but its not actually useful until you host the domain somewhere. Fortunately there are a lot of great hosting providers out there with great plans. I used Dreamhost for a long time and recently switched to Hostgator for better performance. Both are good and there are many others.
More than likely if you go with any hosting provider you are going to want what is called a Shared Hosting Plan. Basically with a plan such as this you are allocated an account on a server and have the use of a web server, database server, and a lot of cool tools such as analysis and statistics of your web sites. I said web sites – plural – because, yes, if you have your own domain you can in fact have as many sites as you want. You can have love.xyz.com, wonderful.xyz.com, etc. Those can all be separate sites if you want. Or you can just have one main site like xyz.com.
It may seem overwhelming that there are things like database available. In fact if you use the automatic installlation tools to create web sites that the hosting providers give customers via a web interface, you actually won’t need to worry about this too much. If you set up WordPress for example (what this site runs) you can just do what is called a “one click install” and most of the backend setup will automatically be done.
In fact I recommend WordPress because it is highly configurable. There are hundreds if not thousands of plugins for it which can add features and functionality. You can create a YouTube-like site with it, or a more basic blog like this one. You can add social-networking features to interconnect with Facebook or other protocols.
I recommend this because it gets you away from relying on the big companies for all your Internet activity. That is the main point. It is very unsettling that people are flocking to these huge web service companies like Google and Yahoo for all their critical Internet activities such as posting information, networking, and communications.
The original creators of the Internet were visionaries who fortunately for our sakes were not thinking of cashing in on and making insane profits from exploiting what can be considered functional communication and information-exchange niches. The Internet, being an extremely new technology, has been full of this vast potention in terms of how people communicate and process information. The original Internet founders began establishing open protocols to enable systems around the world to exchange information in as convenient and open a way as possible.
They did not try to make e-mail proprietary and copyright all the technology behind it in order to make insane profits. Instead they took some of the brightest minds in information technology from places like leading academic institutions and created open protocols and standards which determine how all e-mail communications should take place.
What this did was enable anyone, anywhere to create an e-mail application which used these open protocols to communicate with any other e-mail application that anyone else created, and be able to send, process, and receive e-mails. Without standards like this the backbone of the Internet, which we often take for granted, would not exist.
In order for information to be transmitted from one computer somewhere in the world to your computer, a whole lot of things need to happen. A huge portion of that happens because of the protocols and standards laid down by the first generation of Internet pioneers.
The thinking in today’s world is unfortunately quite different than it was in the beginning. Nowadays companies are formed with the exclusive intent on finding some novel area of information exchange, communication, or web functionality that no one else has developed yet, and trying to capitalize on and corner it as a market, to “own” as much of it as possible and prevent anyone else from being able to do so later.
If you really think about it, the new form of thinking is actually quite sickening. In fact I’ve been able to work in companies both with the old form of thinking and the new form. I can say quite decidedly that the work environments in the companies with the “new” form of thinking is pretty disgusting. You see a lot of young punks who seem to have little true love for information technology as a science who just want to get rich quick and cash in when their startup goes IPO.
This is a far cry from companies where true technologists who love information science work because they are inspired and have a greater vision of technology.
Every time people cave in and use a lot of these “free” Internet services provided by all these startup companies, they are in a sense destroying the world of the greater vision of information technology in favor of a craven, shallow, and rather greedy view that is based on making profit.
I believe its really important to get away from companies like Facebook. While the company may be valued on the stock exchange as being worth billions of dollars, to me it is actually worth far less than nothing. A company like Facebook is damaging and harmful to the world of information technology. It capitalizes on catering to people’s laziness (and often their ignorance). Its like spoonfeeding the masses who become addicted to being spoonfed, which create a whole market of companies clamoring over each other for a piece of the spoonfeed-pie profit. But this is not true profit, in the orginal sense of the world of being a progress or advancement. It is a short-sighted ripoff profit which sells out the future at the expense of the present.
Ok, getting back to the original discussion, I want to mention one thing – if you get your own domain name you don’t necessarily have to purchase your own hosting plan with a hosting provider. Most plans allow multiple if not unlimited domains. Therefore you can split the cost of a plan with several people resulting in an annual cost that is trivial.
Once you’ve got a domain set up with a hosting provider you can start setting up your e-mail, web sites, etc. From that point on it should be easy (and fun).
I mentioned WordPress but there are many other types of web applications that are available. The options are almost unlimited. And you can of course create your own web sites entirely from scratch if you are up to the challenge.
You can also use a program like Microsoft Expression Web to create a web site based on a template or from scratch. The possibilities are endless.
We live in a time when the privacy implications of many things are quite troubling. For example, the simple task of having contacts on a mobile phone backed up and sychronized with a desktop mail/contacts program often involves having to use a service like Google Mail. But do you really want to give a huge company access to all your e-mails and contacts? Even if they claim they only use the information for marketing, that’s still quite distasteful. In my opinion, even though these gigillion-dollar Internet behemoths have come into existence, these models are not the best ones to follow. There are much better ones. The absolute best one is that based on total freedom, open standards, and Open Source software. It does not require revenue for advertising because, frankly I’d rather pay $30 per year for a domain and shared hosting and have total freedom.
If everyone followed this model we actually could have an Internet that is free of all the hyper-marketing, advertising. This model needs to extend into the hardware realm. We all see now the disgusting wars going on between the huge technology device behemoths as they sue the crap out of each other and attempt to impede and obstruct each other, while claming more and more patents which are frivolous and destructive.
We need to switch to a model, as in the early days of the Internet, that is guided by inspiration and passion, not greed and gluttony.