Today’s a day some some personal significance: 20 years ago today I secured the “scalzi.com” domain, making it my permanent home on the Web and on the Internet. To some extent it happened out of necessity — I was about to be laid off from AOL and all my email addresses there were about to be discontinued, so I needed to get an email address — but in a larger sense I decided that I needed an online home that I couldn’t suddenly get kicked out of, at the whims of someone else. So long as I paid the domain and ISP fees on an annual basis, I had a place to call my own.
And so it has been this last double decade. AOL is reduced to a tiny sliver of what it once was, Friendster and Myspace and LiveJournal (not to mention AngelFire or Geocities) are similarly gone or greatly reduced, and all manner of sites that existed in the long-lost days of 1998 are now only accessible via the Internet Archive. And yet, here’s scalzi.com, still plugging along. There are of course older sites out there, but in the increasingly thin segment of personal web sites, not all that many.
I’ll note that today is not the 20th anniversary of Whatever, the blog; that comes in September. It took me about six months to get my act together on that score. Instead what was here was collections of writing from when I was at AOL and, before then, at the Fresno Bee — basically a lot of writing samples I could point people to if they wanted to hire me. It worked, inasmuch as I was soon hired to write music and video game reviews, although I never did go back to working as a full-time employee for anyone else.
Lots of good things have come from having this site out there, including selling Old Man’s War, which started me on my way to becoming a full-time novelist. I’ve told that story before and so I don’t think I need to go into great detail about it again right now. Nevertheless one thing I will repeat now and as often as people need to hear it is that especially for creative people having your own domain is really important. Other sites are highly contingent: they come and go, and they may also arbitrarily decide who gets to see your stuff and who doesn’t (see: Facebook, and its annoying tendency not to show everything you post to everyone who follows you).
Even if you have a large following elsewhere, you should always have a place to call your own, that you are in control of, not someone else. So when Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat are dead and buried — and they will be — people can still find you. And email you! There’s something to be said for having the same email address for 20 years.
So: Hooray, 20 years. Scalzi.com is definitely not going anywhere anytime soon. I suspect it’ll be here as long as I am here, and then, probably, well after that.