What’s your new years resolution?

People seem disappointed  when I tell them I don’t have one, so I decided to do something about it, something I have been intending on doing for a number of years but never quite got around to it. So………………what is it?

Taking Control – of my own spaces and my own data.

So let’s start with (online) spaces.

I like being online, it has many benefits (they usually out weigh the negatives). But I wanted to ensure that I could at least decrease some of the negatives where I can. With regards to spaces like Twitter Google+ and Facebook, I generally actually enjoy these spaces and each one for me has a different purpose/set of people with whom I engage. I can’t see myself moving out of these spaces unless I begin to see a lack of benefit (professional or personal).

I am resigned to the fact that these “services” will use data and information about me to inform their service (and market their products and those of others). I may not entirely like it, but I appreciate the “free” (financially) service has to have a business model.

So, I can’t do much about those spaces (although I don’t use them to post pictures as much as I used to (I’ll come on to how I manage my pictures in a moment). However, there are some spaces I could control and those are the ones I focussed on for this resolution.

I identified the following spaces where I could take more control over my data:

  1. My Blog
  2. My “Landing Page”
  3. My Online Images.

I will take each on in turn and discuss in (some but not too much) detail what my resolutions were.

1. My Blog

Currently Previously hosted on Squarespace it was great platform for me to begin exploring my web identify with a stable, quality experience. It had limitations and lacked flexibility of perhaps WordPress, but it was dynamic across platforms and devices out of the box and it was easy. But……………………..I didn’t have the amount of control over my data that perhaps I wanted and there were some limitations.

So I decided to start there. I purchased hosting from Reclaim Hosting (check out their website and you will see why.) and installed my own WordPress!! The results so far are what you are seeing/reading here now. I still have some work to do, but there is a certain satisfaction in seeing your work come alive. Make no mistake it’s not as easy as Squarespace or Blogger etc, but I am no web programmer and I managed to get it all up and running.  Mozilla might describe as a “builder” but really it’s more about “connecting”.

Mozilla Web Literacy Map

The difference now is that it’s in my control. I manage the data, I manage the settings and functionality and what if I decided I want to delete it all?  I can.

2. Landing Page

I like to have a separate landing page to my blog. A place where people “land” regardless of whether they are interested in me, my blog or some of my projects. Some people don’t want my blog so how can I get them to what they want more quickly?

Previously my landing page was at but just recently my page was somehow reverted back to an old version I had set up a few years so and appears to have lost all of my updated images & bio information. Again I had no control, and no way of bringing it all back!!

So I setup a subdomain on my account and again installed a separate WordPress install. I did this because I didn’t want to use the same template as for the blog and so subdomains are a great way to achieve this. My new landing page can be seen in the video below as it best shows what it looks like in action. Again, it took some hours to really get to grips with using a theme in this way, but I learnt lots from the process.

3. Online Images

Like many of you reading this, I image you have hundreds (if not thousands) of images you have taken. Every second of everyday 1,662 images are uploaded to Instagram alone: Smart devices and instantaneous connections means we can happily snap away.

I have approx 15’000 images which were spread across instgram, flickr, smugmug etc. I predominantly used SmugMug for my personal/family pics because for $40 per year it gives unlimited  photo & video (with some limitations) storage.

However, in all cases I realised that these platforms could (but unlikely) suddenly disappear and I would be without some of my pics. I gave up trying to store all of my pics on a hard-drive backup as I had a hard drive fail on me once and it made me realise that although fairly robust a local hard drive backup system is more fallible than a cloud system with various geographical and technical backup processes. I wanted to be able to control my own data, but also benefit from a cloud storage/backup system.

In my research I stumbled across Picture Life. The main attraction was it’s ability to “curate” my photos from a variety of destinations such as my hard-drive, my smartphone, tablet, Instragram, Flickr and Google (plus others). This meant that no matter what device I took my photos on, no matter what social service I shared them on I would always be able to access them from this single place. But, I hear you say, what about the storage? Well the greatest thing about Picture Life is that they allow you to use your own Amazon Web Service storage and their front end.

The best bit about this is that Picture Life allows you to do this for FREE – no charge for their software or platform at all and Amazon Web storage is sooooo cheap that it costs be less than $5 per month for the storage I am using. Of course the best bit is that it’s my data, only accessible by me through my Amazon Web Service account! You can try PictureLife out for free (they give you 8GB). If you want a bit extra feel free to use my referral code:

So I think that just about wraps it up. This year for me is about managing my content and data, recognising where I am able and am not able to do that. Along the way I am sure I will make mistakes and learn new things, and of course I will share my experiences as I do so.

Happy New year, here’s to one where I get to own more of my data.


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