Until about six months ago, I ran my own mail and web servers. It all ran on Linux with mirror hard drives and was fine except for the fan and the occasional problems with software versions and upgrades and shared libraries and spam — which is to say, it was a total pain.
When my last Linux box finally died, I bought a nice Dual Core iMac and decided, although I *could* run all that stuff on MacOS 10, I didn’t really feel like it anymore. I paid Pobox.com $62 to host my email and put a simple, static page on the Apache server that runs automatically on my iMac. But I still had a problem. I wanted some sort of site beyond what I was willing to install on my new desktop.
Web 2.0 has brought all sorts of community-enabled, RSS- and XML-accessible services. I upload photos to Flickr. I bookmark stuff using del.icio.us. I sync iTunes with Last.fm. My daily life is already web-enabled and feed-friendly. This got me thinking about why I didn’t want to put the effort into running a website for myself.
When it comes down to it, I don’t want to find a good way to upload pictures to my site because I already have a way I like: Flickr. I don’t want to create a special “link blog” sidebar on my site showing things I’ve read that other people might like, because I already have that: del.icio.us. My friends can already track all those things — if they know where to look.
Which leads me to the new Webkist.com. I still have my own domain. I want it to be a central place for finding my stuff: photos, music, whatever. But I’m not willing to manage all the tedious aspects of each datatype. Instead, I’m aggregating the data I create on *other* sites. Sites that take care of uploading and linking and categorizing and counting. I take the RSS feeds from each service, run it through a bit of XSL to create a simple block of HTML. I then combine each of those HTML files into a single page on webkist.com. It’s totally custom — I reformat the feeds however I like, and can style them simply using CSS. The result is pretty much what I would have created if I did it all from scratch, but without having to do ANY of it from scratch. I even used someone else’s XSL to start.
The last piece of the puzzle is this blog, right here. A simple, free wordpress blog, to handle whatever won’t fit in a del.icio.us bookmark description field. We’ll see if I use it.