Pramit Nairi's Collection of writing
updated semi-regularly

17 December, 2012

Why I Roll My Own

In this day and age of convenience and outsourced everything, I still prefer to roll my own. I host my own email (not GMail), my own photo sharing system (not Picasa/Facebook), and so on. And if I'm not rolling my own, I'm paying for a service. Why?

It's pretty simple really. There's the saying on the internet that goes:

If you aren't paying for it, you're the product.

Alexis Madrigal digs deeper into the philosophy in his piece in The Atlantic titled Why You Should Want to Pay for Software, Instagram Edition.

I do it mostly because it allows me a lot of control. I take pride in my data and being able to do whatever I want with it. Of course, I don't spend hours every day keeping servers up and running and neither do I tinker with stuff on a regular basis. I spent a bunch of time some 10+ years ago setting things up and I've been comfortable and happy since. A few tweaks here and there as things change, but for the most part my setup is nearly the same. My photos are in the same directory and all my email (dating back to 1996) is still available to me at the drop of a hat. No worrying about changes in policy, changes in UI, adjustment to T&Cs. I'm not beholden to anyone other than myself and my hosting company.

Sure, I know this is not for everyone – and neither do I recommend this for most people – but it works for me. A lot of people counter my stance with "But [insert social site here] has [insert feature here]" to which I say "Honestly, I don't give a damn." Really. My self-worth or identity isn't determined or influenced by the number of validations I get. I'm comfortable in my own skin and my own identity so I don't really need your approval. If you notice, this site doesn't have any kind of social plugins. No comments, no sharing links. Nothing.

I'm creating my own path and I'm going to roll my own. If you're someone who values your data, cares about privacy, etc, maybe you can start too. If not, I'm not judging you, but I just ask that you put a lid on your "Oh the manatee!!! Instasquarumblr sold out to FaceSpace and they are gonna use my data. Those bastards!!!" talk. What ELSE were you expecting? You, and your data – meta-data included – is the product and it's now being sold, targeted against, and crunched. Deal with it!

I know I do. By rolling my own.