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I’d been meaning to sign up for Known since I first learned about it last year. And that means – I confess – I endorsed it as one of my “Top Ed-Tech Startups of 2014” before I’d really used it much. But since the startup launched its hosted “pro” version, I’ve been a subscriber. I can now say: I really love it.

Known has become another key piece in my efforts to “reclaim my domain,” that is, to maintain control of my content and data, to “publish on my own site, syndicate everywhere.”

Known enables you to create status updates, posts, check-ins, and the like on your own site and then syndicate those to other sites. Instead of creating a tweet via Twitter, for example, I do so via Known. (I write status updates that I don't push to Twitter too.) Instead of uploading a photo to Flickr, I do so via Known. I retain my own copy, but also, thanks to Bridgy, I can pull in the responses to my content as well – favorites, shares, comments, and so on.

Known also feels to me like a return to an earlier Web, an earlier form of blogging, one that was both more casual and more personal. Something changed when we professionalized the Web and blogging, and that, along with the increased scrutiny of our personal lives due to social media, has altered what and how we present ourselves online. For me, I know I think carefully about what I say and signal, particularly on Hack Education or even on this, what I call my “personal blog.” I try not to put content in silos. I try not to use services that are honey-pots for data collection and mining. I’m less apt to use services like Foursquare than I once was (even though I know that my iPhone still leaves behind my GPS trail). I’m less apt to publish rough drafts and fragments of thoughts. Part of this is the pressure of having a sizable readership, I’m sure. Part of this is the bullshit that comes with being a woman on the Internet.

Known is helping me reclaim me, not just my domain and my data. My Known site has photos, updates, fragments, ramblings, comments (I’m starting to respond there to blog posts rather than leave comments on someone else’s site, for example). I feel freer there than I do on some of my more public-facing sites. I’m not sure why, as it’s not as though my Known page is secret. It’s listed in my Twitter bio and on my “About” page on this site. Perhaps it’s simply that I can look at the collection of my online activity in one place – my place – rather than having it scattered across multiple sites that other companies control and where, for a variety of reasons, I find myself rather vulnerable rather than empowered.

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Audrey Watters


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Audrey Watters

Troublemaker

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