When I first started www.activewin.com a decade back, I remembered “I” and “me” were almost taboo words. “We” was a preferred pronoun since it gave a more corporate feel and hence the impression of professionalism. Many single-operator websites I knew held on to this principal.
Which was why back then I could never understood why people would even think of creating “personal websites” on Geocities (a then-hot now-defunct web page creation platform). I hated personal websites with a passion. You know, those kinda websites without any real tangible contents except a front page with a “latest happening about me” section, an “about me” page, a page or two about “my favorite topics” (music, cars, sports) and then a page of “favourite links”. I used to think such websites have no reason to live.
By my definition, you should only have a “me website” if you’re either:
a) a celebrity (in which case the site is probably created by someone else anyway)
b) an expert on a certain subject matter
Who on earth would take interest in you and your boring life unless you have gems of knowledge to share? Even then, I would prefer to go to specialized sites on a particular subjects rather than hear some random ramblings from an amateur guru. Basically, I hated sites with no “grand unifying theme” except for …. “me”.
My few rare exception to this was perhaps Chris Pirillo’s Lockergnome site + newsletter (Lockergnome is now a blog network site). In its past life, Lockergnome provided some good tech tips on Windows, Office, browsers as well as some occasional personal commentary.
When web logs (now famously known as “blogs”) came about, I simple scoffed. Another platform for people to create “about me” websites. When my peers started creating blogs in the late 90’s, I thought it was a passing fad. But I was wrong.
Turns out that really blogs made knowledge sharing easier. Some blogs were so rich in content that its worth its weight in gold. And it turns out that some of my peers produced some surprisingly good blogs on various subjects (food, technology, maths, physics). But I was still skeptical on whether it was worth maintaining a blog. I mean, how much traffic can you possibly expect from a personal blog? Also, being used to running sites with dedicated .com domains for years, I couldn’t get used to the thought of maintaining any site that’s a subdomain of another domain.
All that changed when I went to the US. I had on average 2 request over 2 weeks on “hey, any blog links?” Turns out that there were friends who were seriously interested in what’s going on in my life! So I sheepishly signed up for a blogspot account and started a blog on my US stint. My friends loved it. Friend’s friends loved it. My family loved it. The response took me back a bit. So I was wrong about this “me website” and blog phenomenon after all. It’s not about the person writing it. It’s for the people reading it. So long as the readers find value in the content, blogs and personal websites will always have a reason to exist.
Now fast forward to 2009, where “social media” is a buzzword, almost anybody who is anybody in the scene maintains a blog. In fact, personal branding is not even something to be abashed of. Politicians, technologists, social media experts almost requires a blog as an essential tool to reach out to their audience. People are actually interested in people!
Turns out that the real ego-maniac is the one who is too proud to share and is too concerned with what others may think. The true spirit behind social media is “dare to share”. So what’s holding you back?