A Place to Call Home

From what my archives show, in 1998 I started my first web site. The domain names my site lived at in chronological order were: njol.net, jcksn.com, leavesrustle.com, noel.io, and noeljackson.com… I wrote a few thousand posts, made some of my longest lasting friends, business partners, and grew tremendously through the process of writing and programming. I stopped blogging in 2010, for all the half-assed reasons everyone else does–work, clients, a busy social life, too many push notifications–but mostly because I forgot why I started in the first place: to learn, share, and grow. It’s time to start again.

The first software platform I used for blogging was Movable Type, a static site generator, then I moved to WordPress, my friend Matt’s creation, around 2004. I even went on to work at Automattic, Inc. in 2008, and am extremely grateful for that incredible opportunity to this day. Because of blogging, around 2006 Matt introduced me to Jeffrey Zeldman, a personal hero of mine (he inspired me to start working on the web). I would go on to help him convert his static HTML site (more on that in another post) over to WordPress; now I work with Zeldman on a daily basis, at studio.zeldman. A “hobby” I poured my soul into 19 years ago turned into my profession today.

Owning your own data, after 2005 but before 2017, never became a big enough fear to content producers. Blogger, Facebook, Medium, and similar locked-in platforms have taken over, and people stopped thinking personal sites mattered at all. But, I’ve advocated owning your own data for a long time. From my first OSS project Photostack, built in protest of putting my data inside the walled garden of Flickr, and gave the masses a self-hosted option. (It was popular enough that I licensed the software to Etnies in 2004.) This site will never live on someone else’s hosted platform. Today, owning your own data seems to be more important than ever.

But, I think personal sites do more than protect your content from just disappearing one morning. Blogs give us freedom, and the freedom is not just protection from a platform that might lock us in, but mental and creative freedom. It is a creative process to build your own web site, and a journey of the soul to write to an audience that grows with you. For some reason, I forgot how much the Internet gave me. It shaped me in ways so deep, that I can’t be anything but grateful. My blog shaped my life, it empowered me to feel confident, it took me upon a journey of self discovery that no other medium ever could.

Each little step we take, to gain control of our freedom and creativity is a step we all take towards a more open-minded and informed world.

I’m glad to be back. Thanks for joining me.