When I was small, people often called me a “natural born teacher.” At a young age, they gave me a class to teach the 5-year-olds who couldn’t “get” the hang of reading. By 13, I was delivering whole lessons to classrooms while supervisors sat in the back of the room. Eventually I grew up to become the VP of Product Development and Chief Strategist of a educational publishing company. Teaching has always been part of my personal success formula. Even at this very moment, teaching — sharing what I’ve learned — is critical to what I’m doing.
Yet of all of the advice that people have shared, offered, and pressed upon in my quest to reach the best that I might be. The sentence about teaching that keeps coming back to me lately is one that my dad said when I was still small.
“If you want to be a teacher, own the school.”
My father’s idea about owning the school was that a teacher needs to teach with competence and integrity and with the wrong person in charge the rules can change frivolously and issue irrelevant to great teaching can make the job difficult, if not if not impossible.
I would answer that school systems weren’t build for people like me to own them.
He would answer that I should find a way to make a system of my own.
I learned later that what he was talking about is called risk mitigation.
Facebook: Go Where the Fish Are, But Wear Boots and Know What the Risks Are
Facebook: it’s where the fish are … but before you put your houseboat in that water, know what what the risks are.
When Facebook first opened their doors to more than students, a lawyer friend wrote a deep and thorough blog post about the Facebook Terms of Service. One section made me decide to never put my blog posts on their platform. Last night discussion in the esteemed Twitter Chat #blogchat (held weekly on Sundays 9EST) the discussion was about Facebook versus blogs. This morning a NYTimes article describes a young man, Michale McDonald who used to post his videos on a blog, but now he uses Facebook.”
“I don’t use my blog anymore,” said Mr. McDonald, who lives in San Francisco. “All the people I’m trying to reach are on Facebook.”
And I want to say to him …
If you’re going to build and share online content, own the url where you house it. Put the link on Facebook, but the content on your own URL.
I understand that we need to go where the fish are. I also understand that we need to wear our boots and know what the risks are before we wade into the water.
Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Blogspot and other free platforms make it easy to build and share content so quickly. But what are we risking by building and sharing in places where we don’t own the “land” where we’re building? Free isn’t free when you think about it.
Why It’s Smart to Own Your Content URL, Publish at Home, and Only Share on Facebook
Some reasons to consider storing your content on your own url …
- We don’t hold the keys. I first found out the problems with being a “renter” on someone else’s land in 2006 when blogspot went down and I couldn’t access my own content — Google Blogger–403 Forbidden–How Could You Let that Happen! I woke up one morning years ago unable to reach my “free” blog because Google owned the server. I wasn’t paying them to serve me. My content was at the mercy of their willingness to keep their tool working and accessible to my readers.
I realized last night that, as a Blogger blogger, I am a guest in your home or should I say a captive visitor. Darn, I thought I was a welcomed customer. What made this clear was when you locked me in my room and forbade me access to my stuff.
- We give up our rights to part of what we own. We have to be. The sites couldn’t function without that sort of IP permission. Have you read the Facebook Terms of Service? It means anything you put there is no longer yours exclusively until you remove it and then …. Just this much of it means I find it dangerous – that I’ve turned over my right to who can use it.
You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:
1. For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.
2 When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).
I’m not sure I want Facebook to be able to use my intellectual property or to be able to transfer it whomever might buy Facebook next. I’m careful not to post what I love most and what I want to keep exclusive to my brand and my business on my own url.
Other sites — free blogs, Flickr, YouTube, SlideShare, have similar Terms of Service, know what you’re giving them them you put whole content on their sites. Sometimes the trade off is worth it in the circulation it generates. Sometimes you can achieve the same results in stronger ways. Knowing what we’re giving while we’re getting is always a great way to manage that risk.
Maybe you don’t want to do that with all of your Flickr images, but anyone who’s had they’re entire photo collection deleted bacause they labeled them wrong, knows the value of understanding the agreement before you start.
- If we leave, our community can lose their identity as well as their home. It would be unreasonable for a landlord to take the names of all the people who visitor your home or business. It would be even more unreasonable for a landlord to offer to keep that list for you and refuse to share when you move … ever try to export a list from Yahoo groups, Facebook, or Linkedin?
- We can’t design a space the same way as we might if the property is our own. LinkedIn pages decide how your content looks. Facebook decides how much you can bring your design into their space. Flickr and YouTube don’t allow much customization because they want your visitors to know you’re on their property.
Of course, every online tool has to have it’s own rules to protect itself and to maintain its identity. Some of those rules make it deliciously easy to do it their way rather than put in the work to build a “home” of our own. Even the power of their longevity can make the Search Engine listings seem stronger to stay with them.
But the pride and power of ownership allows us to tell our own story in our own way. We can use those other tools to support us in building a powerful presence that is truly our own. But relying on them alone they can become less support and more “just an easy way.”
And in a crisis we may find that we want a home base that is within our control.
Should a time comes that you might have to protect your reputation from a jealous sort or someone with a grudge, people will look for a response from you. You’ll want to have that url that you own to tell your story in the truthful, authentic voice that your friends and fans have come to respect. You’ll want the power of your own content to carry you to the top of the search listings when folks go looking for you.
Do you find it’s important to own your content url?