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Articles by Brian Jackson

My Digital Treehouse

12 June 2007

These days, it's brain-dead easy to put together a web page. Anyone with a Facebook or MySpace membership can have an identity online, and any number of companies like Google and Godaddy are eager to provide access to not just hosting, but the building materials for your website.

I decided not to go the pre-built direction.

It's not necessarily pretty or innovative, but this website is unique because it was built from the ground with my own two hands. Granted, I've got a phpBB board and I'm using an open-source php script to handle rss for the main page, but the program that ties the site together is mine. If the smallest feature that I want isn't already present on the pages of this site, I can assemble it and have it live in minutes. On the flip side, if someone I know wants to add one of my features, I can give them code without fear of someone else's licensing agreements.

I feel compelled to build my own when I could simply download or buy similar software. It's that desire, perhaps, that drives me to write programs in the first place. A hundred different versions of tetris are available, but I can only truly own one of them the way I own the one I wrote. That doesn't mean I should hoard my code, and anyone who asks me for the source for my projects generally gets what they need.

Better alternatives exist. I could have put the site together in fifteen minutes with WordPress. But this is craftsmanship, even if the result is less impressive or robust than such a site could have been. I have, for the first time, a place online upon which I can stake my claim in earnest. And that's all I really wanted out of this site. The community on the board, albeit small, is worthwhile to me because, unlike MySpace or Facebook, this community is not viral, and has come about in an atmosphere where no computer network had to invite them. They have come into the house I have built with my own hands, and it blows me away whenever I read the message boards that they actually want to use the site. So know you know my motives for building my own website.



You're lucky that you're able to even think of doing that! some of us are not so gifted.

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