But the thing that’s really great about it is how much it reminds me of what websites used to look like on the internet, when a personal website was about presenting ourselves in digital form, not just a conduit to continually post content about ourselves. Gubler’s website, which feels like it’s from 2003 in the best way possible, is about who he is and what he’d like to tell us about himself, not feeding the content beast. (On one page, he literally sings the theme songs to Cheers and The Golden Girls.)
If you remember correctly, this was how Facebook and MySpace started—as a wall, a space where we could present ourselves creatively, no worries about anyone else our our thoughts on politics or the desire to rant or constantly have opinions on things. But quickly, the internet moved away from that, because there was money to be made, and personal websites did not produce it quickly enough.
But yesterday, we got a brief reminder of why Gubler’s path, the simple self-hosted personal website, might actually be the winner. Facebook went down for hours in a comedy of errors that some of us
would love to see dramatized by Aaron Sorkin.
On the internet, we started with plumbing
that was operated by the United States government, then a non-governmental organization, and eventually we all got convinced—hoodwinked, even—into joining this beast we called Facebook, which after it convinced us to build our own personal walls, immediately changed its model to take the focus off of us and put it on themselves. But that wasn’t bad enough to quit, so we kept using it, and eventually it became the network we all used.
(Literally a day or two after I joined Facebook in 2007, the network introduced me to a future girlfriend. Not bad!)
But the thing is, while Facebook was convincing us to share our lives with the world, it convinced businesses to invest lots of money into the network, money that used to go to places like local newspapers or otherwise stayed in the community. In retrospect, it seems stunning that we let this company take over so many elements of our lives without even realizing how little it deserved our trust.