Up close and personal

With computers linking everything to everything else, it’s safe to assume that a lot of your personal information is out there somewhere, floating in cyberspace. If you’ve ever purchased something online, chances are that information is being traded back and forth for various ends.

The marketers call it Customer Relationship Management. CRM is the practice of identifying suckers – I mean potential customers – by attempting to profile you and your demographic through your interactions with the Web, and anticipating your needs-slash-tolerance for sales pitches.

The only way to avoid this trap is to pay cash for everything and live under an assumed name in the deep woods.

Since that is not an option, and because many of us do appreciate the opportunities the Web offers, the only thing to do is to get used to the idea that your information is out there, protect your vital information as much as possible, and get used to the idea that you’re being tracked for marketing research. And if you’re going to be on the Web anyway, you might as well make sure they get the story right.

Thousands of Web users out there are hosting their own personal Web sites these days.

For some people it’s an opportunity to show off their writing, photography, art, music, pets and share their lives with friends, family and the world at large. For others, it’s an online resume, an opportunity to demonstrate your technical savvy while including more information than you could possibly fit in a resume and cover letter. For still others it’s an opportunity to meet people with similar interests and hobbies, whether it’s the music of KISS or HO scale model trains.

It’s not as hard as you might think to put yourself online. There are freeware programs available right now that can get you started on a basic site, as well as free domains that will host them for you.

Getting started

The first thing you want to decide is where you want the site to go. If you want a domain name that’s original, you generally have to apply for that name and pay a fee to own it. See what’s available at or and follow their procedures.

If you go the dot-com route, you’re going to have to find a Web server to host your site. While you can set up your own server at home, it’s generally less of a headache to find a third party to host your Web presence.

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