The vanishing personal site

Paul Boag

I notice that recently Zeldman mourned the decline of the personal site. Several responded rebutting the claim. Personally I am not sure I care.

As somebody who has just relaunched his site, surely I should be horrified that the personal site is on the decline. According to Zeldman, we are turning instead to services such as Flickr, Twitter and facebook.

However it strikes me that the personal site has always been a tool to achieve an aim, not the aim itself.

Why do people have personal sites? I can identify two common reasons.

Some have a personal site to increase their exposure. They use their site as a form of self promotion, in search of fame, prestige or their next job.

Others have a personal site for self expression. A place they can develop their creative abilities whether that is in design, coding, photography or writing.

In either case a personal website is no longer necessary. I can express myself just as easily through flickr or twitter. Their are entire communities dedicated to every conceivable type of self expression. Why would I choose to limit myself to a personal website?

As for self promotion, it is easier to go out “there” and promote yourself than expect people to stumble across your site. Youtube and Facebook are where people meet. If you want to be heard, that is where you must go.

Also the personal site is exclusive. It requires certain skills to create. My wife or mother is unlikely to have a personal site in the traditional sense. At most they will have a blog. But, why even have that when there are so many other services through which they can communicate. At most they require a single page that brings together these disparate services.

Of course there are always exceptions. If you are an inspiring web designer then you will probably need a personal site to show off your skills. But be careful. A fancy portfolio site is not enough without real client sites, as pointed out by Daniel Burka this week

In conclusion, I have to agree with Zeldman that the time of the personal site is probably drawing to an end. However I cannot mourn its loss. To me the new generation of tools offer more than the personal site ever could. Why mourn the betamax cassette in an era of blueray and streaming high def movies?