Content ownership is not complicated

There have been a few IndieWebCamps recently, including in Amsterdam, New York, and Brighton. I’ve enjoyed reviewing the sessions, and after the Amsterdam event I noticed this post about content ownership:

When it comes to posting to Facebook or Twitter, you play a different game. You write and post it on their servers, therefore those companies own your data, not you. A photo (or video for that matter) is a special kind of data. Its file size creates limitations to its distribution, but no matter where it’s uploaded, it is always owned by its creator first.

While it’s good to acknowledge the unique hosting requirements of photos and videos, how we define content ownership shouldn’t be any different. People get lost in the weeds with running their own server, how to set up cross-posting to other social networks, where to post first, what formats and protocols to use, etc. But it’s actually much simpler than that.

I think in the tech world — and especially as programmers — we tend to make things more complicated than they need to be. We know too much about content ownership, most of it irrelevant for mainstream users.

If you want to control your content on the web, post it at your own personal domain name. That’s it. Everything else you want to do is icing on the cake.

Likewise, nothing else can be a replacement for that simple act of using your own domain name. You could write your own blog software with a custom database designed for ActivityPub and run it on a server in your basement. It doesn’t matter. Without the domain name, all you have is a pile of icing.

This has been the messaging for from the beginning. Keep it simple and make it easy for anyone to participate in the open web.

Manton Reece @manton