When you own a domain you’re a first class citizen of the web.
For the last few months, I’ve been in a blogging slump. Like presumably a lot of people, the sheer number of communication channels has both overwhelmed and satisfying the urge to write and share ideas.
What’s more, for several years my hosted WordPress blog was a reliable online home. Although limited in customization, my blog more or less fulfilled its role aptly.
But recently, three things spurred me to take a step towards web sovereignty and finally secure my own domain and set up my own site, using tools I understand and control.
I’m loving my new job at Mozilla. The festival was a blast (more on that soon), and my colleagues and the community are a constant source of inspiration. The mission to “build a generation of web-makers”, using a combination of learning programs and innovative tools, has awakened my own curiosity to dig deeper and to understand how the web works.
I continue to be delighted by tools like the Hackasaurus X-Ray Goggles, which I use nearly every day to inspect code and figure out how web pages work.
Now, after spending a good few hours securing a domain, setting up hosting with Nearlyfreespeech.net (thanks, Parker, for the tip!), and scouring fora and actually doing command-line coding, I’m feeling even more eager to skill-up and take advantage of all the cool stuff out there.
Another aspect of Mozilla I thoroughly admire is its commitment to working in the open. Every day I realize how that’s harder than it sounds. Often, one feels like there isn’t enough time to document processes and ask for input. Engaging in conversation takes time, and one only has so many hours in the day.
But this is a principle I’m keen to support, and seeing the positive examples of many of the Mozilla teams, I’m encouraged to start blogging again and to use this platform to not only work in the open, but to think and talk and share here.
A lot of good comes from thinking aloud and thinking together, and this seems like a great opportunity to rekindle that spirit. Not only for my job, but for lots of ideas and conversations that spring up.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I’m indebted to Peter for encouraging me to set up this new site. Like with many tasks, getting my own site up and running seemed harder than it really was. And now that it’s ready, and I’ve already learned so much along the way, I feel all the more empowered to tinker and to play with the web.
To that end, here’s a list of the tools that helped me. Perhaps they can be of motivation to you, on the road to being a first class citizen of the web.
- Markdown: a super-simple writing syntax that you can easily export into clean HTML. This Lifehacker article serves as a great intro.
- Markdown for WordPress plugin: This plugin converts your markdown text into HTML in WordPress. Fast and easy to use. I used to spend so much time formatting my posts; now it’s automagic.
- WordPress: Just a big shout-out to the incredible community behind this powerful publishing platform. The famous 5-minute install took me more like 1 hour, but the documentation was incredibly helpful, and it’s worked like a charm since. (Minus managing file permissions. This post from a NearlyFreeSpeech user really helped me.)
- Nearlyfreespeech.net: smart, inexpensive and privacy-aware web hosting.
- P2PU & Mozilla’s School of Webcraft: friendly learning missions to get you familiar with HTML and your site up and running.
- Domain registration with nic.com: a comprehensive if but slightly spammy domain registry. I probably should’ve used NearlyFreeSpeech for this as well, but nic.com proved to be pretty affordable and easy to use.
Image “Walled Gardens” by Mischa Tuffield in “Findings and Future Direction of the W3C Social Web Incubator Group (SWXG)”, available under CC BY 3.0