Google and Twitter could screw up your life, here’s how to protect yourself

Photo by Lee Otis

Photo by Lee Otis

I’m scared. There, it feels better now that I’ve said it. I’m scared, because I’ve come to the realization that I depend way too much on third parties to manage everything I do. In just over a week two things have happened to me that have me freaking out.

1. I was wrongly suspended from my Twitter account for two days.

There’s no way to export your followers and folks you’re following on Twitter. So, if Twitter locks you out or suddenly goes down, how can you stay connected with those people? When Twitter suspended my account, I posted here comparing the feeling with suddenly losing access to your email. Imagine being locked out of your email account with no reason?

2. Gmail was down.

I depend heavily on Google for Gmail (among other things). I have around ten Gmail accounts that I use daily. Without access to my friends, family, clients and potential employers I am left in the dark. I need my email! This week Gmail went down for a while, long enough to make me panic.

Here’s two ways I’ve decided to protect myself.

1. I’m gradually moving my friends on Twitter over to Identi.ca. I still intend to use Twitter, but the potential of Identi.ca is incredible. People can follow me on the opensource, microblogging, Federated network, the network acts similarly to Twitter. The big difference in the two is that Indenti.ca can be hosted locally as well. So, I can start my own channel with friends on Identi.ca. I can host the channel on my own server, which means I can protect and backup the conversations and contact details.

Laconi.ca is the code that powers Identi.ca and is something anybody interested in microblogging (and online communication in general) should familiarize yourself with. Jay Ridgeway wrote how to create your own microblog in 7 steps on his blog. Jay writes that, Laconi.ca supports federation, allowing for subscriptions to microblog feeds on different domains. You should also check out Louis Gray’s awesome post about this.

2. Yes, I hate Outlook as much as the next person, however I plan to use it to back up my Gmail. I could use my MacBook for this too, but my PC tower at home should do the trick. I haven’t set this up yet, but it should be relatively easy to do. Try following these directions to do this yourself: http://www.emailaddressmanager.com/tips/outlook-gmail.html or http://lifehacker.com/software/email-apps/using-gmail-imap-in-microsoft-outlook-2007-318140.php. You should also export your contacts from Gmail to have a backup.

I love the concept of cloud computing, but going local makes sense too. On the note of backing things up, you should back up your photos right now. I back up to an external hard drive often, then I bring it with us when we travel. If your house gets robbed the thief will likely steal your computer. In the good ole days I doubt they would have stolen your photo albums.

Photos are irreplaceable, unless you back them up to a third party service, but what if that service goes down? :-) Do you see where I’m going with this?