2 min read

🗝️ Hold Your Own Keys

On January 22, 1994 Justin Hall walked back to his Swarthmore College dorm room and sat down to try his hand at a complex project: publishing a basic HTML website using a shared campus internet connection.

Justin’s computer and website server was Apple’s new Powerbook 180 (with 4 MB of RAM and a 120 MB hard drive). His website, “Justin's Links from the Underground”, was extremely personal, a public self-discovery medium as he came of age alongside The Internet itself. Justin’s website marked the dawn of a new era and the birth of the personal blog―but it also marked the moment the gatekeepers died.

The Death of The Gatekeepers

Since 1994, more than 500 million blogs have been published on the World Wide Web. Today, we mostly take this medium for granted—but blogs are at the center of a cataclysmic cultural shift that has occurred over the last 25 years.

A thousand years ago, there were a handful of powerful gatekeepers who directed which information was spread all over the world. Want to share your opinion on how to make the world a better place? Get in line for the King. Five hundred years ago, Gutenberg’s printing press took the gatekeeper count from a few to a few thousand—but with the dawn of the personal blog, 7 billion people became their own gatekeepers overnight.

Today, everyone has a voice. Not just the voice you’re born with, but the voice that scales infinitely online. If you have anything you want to say, no one can stop you. People may or may not be interested, but you don’t need anyone’s approval to publish an anecdote or manifesto online.

Control Your Own Medium

For all intents and purposes, the gatekeepers are gone. Unfortunately, some people seem to have forgotten that—adopting new gatekeepers like Facebook, YouTube, or Medium to publish content. Shared platforms are phenomenal for reaching new people, but there will always be a missing element of ownership and control when another entity holds the keys to your content.

This is why, when you’re building your own online influence, I always recommend that you establish an independent online home that you own and control.

Like your own storefront or the front door of your house, this becomes your headquarters—the place where you conduct commerce and welcome guests, where you hold the keys.