I try to be pretty open-minded about most things. That is, I try not to be legalistic or dogmatic about any particular idea. If something comes along that contradicts something I hold true or near and dear, I’m willing to evaluate the evidence and see if it reinforces or challenges what I believe.

Admittedly, there are people who are better at it than I am but I do my best.

But one thing I absolutely cannot get passed – and this is something becoming more and more prevalent the older I get and the more I work in software, specifically in open source – is the idea of data ownership.

And I believe there’s a direct result between what we’re able to do with WordPress and data ownership that can positively impact the type of solutions we release and we’ve yet to even realize we can build.

On Data Ownership

I recently tweeted about my thoughts about some service’s stance on their privacy policy. The short of it was that it was sketchy at best. Someone asked me if I really took the time to read those things.

Yes, I do.

I haven’t always, though. Used to it was: Yes, I agree, Yes I agree, Yes I agree, okay let me use your application (or service).

But over the passed few years, I’ve gotten far more skeptical about privacy policies. In fact, I’d argue they have become more about “Here’s what we will do with your data and here’s how we’re going to reuse the information we give you.”

It’s not so much about privacy anymore, but I digress.

Privacy

Case in point: I just read a private for an application I found on Product Hunt I was going to test, but the privacy policy explicitly said the following:

To provide Visitors and Members some of these products and services, the partner may need to collect and maintain personal information. In these instances, you will be notified before any such data is collected or transferred and may decide not to use that particular service or feature.

Emphasis mine. Now, to this services’ credit, they do agree to notify before any such data is collected and what appears to allow us to give us an opt-out option.

But the fact this is built into a brand new service before it’s begun to take root, and knowing the policies can change on a whim after data is collected has never sat well with me.

Such is the world we live in, though.

But the point I’m ultimately getting at is not that we should pour over privacy policies (though I personally think it doesn’t hurt), but that we need to take data ownership into serious consideration when using certain applications and services.

WordPress and Data Ownership

So what does this have to do with WordPress? Honestly, for me, it has to do with a lot.

When it comes to sharing information online, I’ve gotten more and more strict about the services I use.

I don’t use Facebook anymore (and haven’t for years). I’ve tried Instagram over and over, but I can’t get passed the fact they are owned by Facebook and they ultimately own the photos.

As beautiful and impressive as other blogging systems are, especially those like Medium, I can’t get fully behind those because the content resides on their servers. Yes, they offer an export feature and I love that. I wish more services would follow suit.

Here’s how unsettled I get: I get iffy about keeping photos stored on third-party services and keeping my code stored on third-party services. It’s not that it’s not useful, but I always want to maintain a copy of this information locally, as well.

Push come to shove, I’ll go nuclear on everything. But okay, enough of this tinfoil hat nonsense.

WordPress – You Mentioned WordPress

Yes. I did. So how does WordPress fit into all of this?

Given the open source nature of WordPress and it can be self-hosted, there’s a big pull to want to use it to store a variety of information first and foremost our blogs and other similar information we share, right?

Furthermore, I think we’ve yet to realize the full potential of the REST API. Imagine being able to build your own hub of information that collects all of the information you’ve shared across the web using third-party APIs and store them within the context of your own application (well, headless WordPress, but you get it).

WordPress REST API Documentation

So even if you decide to go nuclear and delete an account, you have all of your information owned and maintained in your own database.

This is not without its caveats. I know. There’s still hosting and things like that to consider. But when you look at just how far out our social networks spread – from Twitter to Instagram, from Facebook to Medium, from Flickr to 500px, we’ve got data everywhere.

Imagine being able to continue sharing information, but also continuing to own all of the information for yourself by simultaneously bringing it back into a database into an area you own.

Pretty exciting, right? At least for those of us who are tin foil hat types.

But in all seriousness: I’m not trying to come off as preachy in saying you should never use the services you want to use. On the contrary: I think everyone should want to use whatever services they want however they want.

To that end, though, I’m iffy about using said services for the reasons above. And it’s why I continue to be excited about WordPress as an application and the future of what it’s going to bring to the web as being more than a CMS.

WordPress and data ownership are things I see going hand-in-hand for a long time to come.

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