Through the years I've gone through many different services and explored many different application in the quest of having some type of online persona. This went through a series of phases, starting with the old tried and true web page.
So let's do the run through of what I've tried and why I quit.
Personal website - while this provided the most flexibility and liberty of design, it was also the most time consuming to develop. Also the toolset nececessary to develop, manage and update your website were numerous and complicated. Throw in the static nature of the content and the necessity of manually update - and creating and maintaining a website was an odious chore.
The first rumblings of the oncoming cloud world came in the form of free websites that provided templates and web forms to add, update and manage content. Though it still required active development, there was no mechanism to easily make content production part of your life.
Oberservation 1) A modern online presence must be tidy, lightweight, provide many templates, and provide easy web based tools to add, update and manage content.
Online Diary -> Blog - I tried many services when the blog revolution was just beginning. Opendiary, perhaps one of the largest blog sites in the early 90s was where I developed a taste for having a readership. People who came back for repeat visits and left comments.
It was truly revolutionary. It removed the time involved in creating your own website and provided an easy method to update and manage. This was one of the first steps in socializing the web - the appearance of the methods that eventually be common to all blogging tools..
Since then, everything from Blogger, to Facebook, to MySpace, to just about any social networking site and you find the basics of blogging. They vary in the amount of freedom you have in designing the page and sharing various media types, but the basic ability to post some form of blog or note is there.
Increasing, the ability to clip and share any type of content is of increasing importance. To that end, blogging and shared media is converging, which is why Facebook has been such a success. It provides a social outlet for both your thoughts and shared media. Blogging methods applied to what is effectively a raw HTML page.
Obervation 2) A modern online presence must provide a media stream. A blog is nice, but the ability to blog, embed, link and generally share anything you may come upon is better. It allows you, rather than some specific website, to manage the appearance of the site and the quality of the hypertext that goes into it.
Social - And a modern website, no matter what else, must provide a means for you interact with your readership. To receive feedback, comments, and interact with your readership. The real question here, is how far to take it. With modern mobile computing it may be possible to provide an almost continuous real time presence.
Observation 3) A modern online presence must be interactive. The site visitors should feel "plugged in" to the living heart of the content.
There other aspects to be considered - but these 3 things will be the core of my new online presence. An overarching theme of the backend toolchain is that it should make this not only easy, but mobile. One should be able to create content with nothing more than a modern smartphone or tablet. However, that's a topic all to itself - and as I explore the available tools out there, converging management into an easy to use interface will be central.
I will collect the observations from my blog posts somewhere, and these will be used to craft my concept and statement of intent.