There are lots of reasons for growing your own online services. Different people will have different priorities, so here’s a general list in no particular order:
- Privacy: It’s your service so there’s no one spying on you.
- No advertising: No banners, no newsletters, nothing but the service itself. The absence of adverts can also speed the service up and vastly reduce how much mobile data it uses.
- Community spirit: An online service made for your friends, family or organisation can be really fun to use. It’s like your own little corner of the world that you’re building together.
- Your own rules: You decide who and what is allowed on your own service. You can block anything you don’t like, and your word is final because it’s your service. It’s your pub and you are the landlord!
- Independence: You have complete control and legal ownership, you are not at the whims of an impenetrable corporation. No one is going to shut the service down or delete your account without explanation.
- Peace and focus: Homegrown services don’t try to get your attention with algorithms, or con you with dark patterns ⧉.
- Better service: Organisations and businesses who grow their own services can better protect the privacy of their members, users or customers. You’re doing people a favour by offering them a more friendly way to interact with you.
- Backup: The corporations that run YouTube, Gmail etc are so huge, it’s often impossible to speak to anyone in charge. If they decide to randomly delete or lock your account, there is often absolutely nothing you can do about it. Even some large organisations have had trouble getting Facebook or Google to return their calls, as megacorporations seem to be allergic to customer service. In these circumstances, it comes in very handy to have your own services which are under your own control, which you can share with your friends, members or customers at short notice.
…so, what are the options for growing your own?
You may also want to check out the related projects section, as there are a number of different initiatives out there which are trying to encourage people to create their own corner of the internet.