Jeffrey Zeldman’s article, The vanishing personal site, brings to light what many of us have been wondering about in the back of our heads for a while now. Social networks that provide features often found in a personal website captured our fancies and stretched our virtual personas in all directions. That goes for both the knowledgeable and not so knowledgeable in web development.
It’s not really a bad thing, which Zeldman also stresses. The question is, now that you’ve scattered yourself all over the place, how are you going to put yourself back together?
Not that you need to; I’m sure not everyone would be interested in painstakingly picking up the pieces one by one and gluing them together. That’s why FriendFeed became an instant hit. But if you ask me, using another social network to put them all together does not feel good. Not one bit. I’d consider it another convenient (even organic) way to spread my own content. But that’s it. I still dream of the day I manage to tastefully put my stuff together in one place. Like these websites:
Jeff Croft and Denna Jones
Truth is, Jeff Croft‘s recent site redesign is more than an exercise in consolidating “stuff”. It also experiments with CSS3 (view it in Safari) and prides itself with fancy Tufte-style bar graphs on the sidebar. Lots of API-wrangling here, from Flickr (with photo-cropping to boot) to Google Maps to Upcoming to Authentic Jobs.
Denna Jones’s website behaves like a portfolio up front, but as Jon Tan relates, practically everything on the site is extracted from elsewhere. The header is made up of the basic blurb placed on top of a photo from Denna’s Flickr account. This gives a dynamic, interactive, and personal feel all at the same time.
Although an out of the box solution like FriendFeed seems like a godsend, those who care about a great user experience will find a better way to present content from several external sources. Will doing so become an easier task? Let’s hope so, at least by some degree.