The challenge of this is two-fold. First, there will always be a cooler, sexier place to hangout and share online. The latest place that I’ve been writing about is Medium. Second, many of these places could vanish at any second. I’ve had a lot of content built up in long-lost Nings, Xtranormal clips, and elsewhere.
One other challenge is that in publishing and connecting online, it’s often hard to keep track of content or discussions you’ve had in random locations online. I’ve blogged a lot on my old Blogger site and the TypePad site we set up with the NLRL. I’ve also engaged in tons of great discussions with collaborators in discussion forums, Google Docs, emails, and listservs. Yes, some of this content is definitely rubbish…but some of it I’d like to document online to save and share for later. Perhaps it would even benefit others that don’t traipse down that specific Internet worm hole.
In this post I hope to share guidance and things I’ve learned from the past couple of years of building and breaking things online. I hope this helps you out as you develop your digital identity. Please keep in mind that these points are informed by my current thinking…and the current culture of the online space. Things below might change as new digital texts and tools are developed online. I’ll continue to experiment and share out my thinking as events warrant.
Build your one space online
To alleviate these concerns, I recommend building up your one space online. I think we should all have one place online that we use to think, reflect, and share with the world. This space should be a domain that you control. In the post above, I share my thinking about how to make that happen. Most of it includes purchasing a domain, and paying for your place online. The reason I suggest paying for it is that it’ll say online…as long as you keep paying. Paying for a domain and hosting sounds terribly complicated and expensive. It’s not. Get in touch with me and I’ll walk you through it.
Keep in mind that you do not have to start this process with buying a domain and setting a WordPress site. I would start by setting up a blog or website at WordPress, Known, Wix, or Weebly. I recommend (and use) WordPress and Known as it’s super simple to purchase a domain and host your own content if you spend more and more time building up your space. Hosting your own space is important as Wix, Weebly, or online website building tools could decide at any point to change business models. What happens to your content then?
Develop one canonical online address
Think about it, many of us have a phone number that we’ve held for years. We have one email address, or Twitter account that is very easy to follow online. But when it comes to content that we build, and share online…it’s spread out across numerous spaces and places. If someone just met you and wanted to search online to learn more about you…how easy would that process be? How incomplete might that picture be if they only came across your Facebook page, or Twitter account, or your Flickr photo stream?
In building and possibly hosting your one space online, you are building one canonical address that you use to share everything. You’re building up one online address that you’ll use to create the best possible picture of you and your work. Want to be an online photographer? Great, share your work and how to get in touch. Want to be a teacher? Awesome, share your lesson plans, ideas, and blog about your class activities. Want to be a professor? Stupendous, blog about your thinking on topics, share tutorials and lessons for class openly online. Perhaps this might seem like an intriguing idea. 🙂
I was introduced to the idea of building up one canonical address by Doug Belshaw. The thinking is that you have one address online. You do work across different spaces, but you share that one address with people that want to get to know you. You put this web address at the top of your resume or CV. It becomes a straightforward and basic representation of you and your best work.
Publishing and syndicating
This is where things get fun. In the beginning of this post, I discussed the challenges that occur as different digital spaces and places might change course, or disappear. We all want to continue to work, play, and connect in these spaces because our friends are there. We’re all also human beings. We want attention, and we want people to like, connect, or critique our posts and content. The possible solution (for now) to this challenge is to play, connect, and interact in your normal online spaces…and then archive your content on your one canonical address.
In the Indie Web Community, this is either known as the POSSE model or PESOS model. The POSSE model is preferred and indicates that you are publishing on your own site, and syndicating it elsewhere. An example of this is the post that you’re reading right now. I publish it here on my self-hosted WordPress site, and then syndicate (or re-publish) it out to Medium and elsewhere. I have been experimenting with syndicating to LinkedIn Pulse and Medium. So far I’ve gotten the most feedback from posting to Medium, but I continue to experiment. The PESOS model indicates that you are publishing elsewhere and syndicating to your own site. An example of this includes the content I share to Instagram. I love Instagram, Vine, and other platforms. I’m continually playing and sharing content. But, I learned my lesson from xtranormal. I am identifying ways to automatically archive and share content I share on these other spaces to addresses that I own and pay for. In the end my goal is to have one web address that just lists and saves all of the screencasts, screencaptures, Vines, photos, that I use and share online. This becomes an invaluable resource for me to look back over my work. It might also help others online.
Making the POSSE model is not that challenging if you’re on certain platforms. My current process involves writing in WordPress, and then thanks to the Medium plugin, my posts automatically are re-published to Medium. I still have to go back and clean things up…but in the end I have my content published and archived on this site. I also have the benefit of this post living over on Medium where the community and my followers can read, comment, and respond to this piece. Syndicating to LinkedIn Pulse is a bit more challenging. I copy/paste my post from WordPress over to LinkedIn. It’s messy and this is probably why I don’t do it as often. If you don’t use WordPress and want to share to Medium, I recommend starting up a Medium account if you haven’t already. Re-post your content over there by copy/pasting…or search online to see what other options might be out there.
To make the PESOS model work, it’s a bit more challenging. To think about this in a writing/blogging context it would involve writing on Medium, or Blogger…and then pulling that content over to your other website. That doesn’t work, or make sense for me. What I am trying to do is automatically archive my images and videos over to my Known site. Known is an awesome, open source website platform that has numerous plugins to extend functionality. Within this, OwnYourGram will automatically save photos shared on Instagram over to your Known site. I’ll share more on this later.
Sharing and syndicating
If you’ve gotten to this point, you’re probably wondering why I just don’t publish a blog post and share it out online. I still publish content from this blog and tweet it out, share it on Facebook, and elsewhere. As I indicated up above, I’ve been experimenting with re-publishing, or syndicating content natively in Medium and LinkedIn Pulse. Readership, and reaction to publishing in these other spaces has skyrocketed as I’m connecting with other audiences.
I don’t know if it’s the affordances of the platform, or if Medium/LinkedIn is highlighting my posts. I also don’t know if online readers generally prefer reading content right on the site as opposed to having to click through to get to your content. My main goal in publishing, sharing, and syndicating is to get my content out there and make it available for those that might need it. It has definitely made a difference as I’ve shared it across spaces. I recommend that you do this as well.
In this post I shared some insight from my experimentation in writing, publishing, and syndicating content online. As I’ve been experimenting I’ve shared guidance showing how to read, write, and publish long form content in Medium. I’ll share some more insight, but I would recommend following the earlier posts to get yourself into the Medium platform. If you’re interested in reading, writing, sharing, connecting, and learning with others online…you’ll like Medium.
This post was primarily directed at friends and colleagues that already blog in other spaces, and wonder why/how they would re-post content to Medium or elsewhere. I’m no asking you to change over, I’m asking you to continue to post to your one site…and syndicate elsewhere. Trust me, you’ll enjoy the benefits. Please leave comments and feedback below.
Cover photo by Sean MacEntee http://flickr.com/photos/smemon/4420336383 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
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Ian you mention spaces like Instagram etc … What frustrates me about these places is that you are unable to apply any sort of licencing to them (who would want to share?). I was just wondering if you have found a means of syndicating to such places.
A part of me knows I really should embrace Known. However, I am just unwilling to pay the subscription for the add-on which allows you to syndicate everywhere.
Maybe I already know the answer :/ Just wondering if you have found any other alternatives …
Hi Aaron, I’ve been wondering that as well. I also have watched as colleagues/friends that would normally post their content on Flickr with a CC-license are now opting to post their art/photos on their site and leave a CC license. A good example of this is the work by the great Bryan Mathers (http://bryanmmathers.com/).
I think there is a challenge because some might only discover/use your work by searching in Flickr. I also think there is better ownership of your work and control of it online.
I think with the Instagram question I would recommend sharing your work in a couple of places. I’m thinking about starting a Known feed that archives all of the screencaptures, screencasts, and photos I share and use. I would also share this out on Instagram and Flickr as well. The spot on my website would be to archive and keep a trail of all of this. The Flickr and elsewhere would be to connect with others.
My concern is that at any point these other services could disappear. I don’t want my work to disappear as well.
Hope that helps.
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