Irminger.org and leeirminger.com were registered in 2010 while I was in my undergraduate after hearing the suggestion to register the domain names associated with your name at a leadership conference. For most of the time between then and now I had both domains pointed at a Blogspot blog that had posts on my travels and some career-related updates. I created an email address using the irminger.org domain and the
privacy-respecting Protonmail in 2017 and have since made that my primary email address. (UPDATE: I switched to German & open-source Tutanota after learning that Protonmail has not been fully forthcoming about their origins and operations) 2017 is also when I began looking into open-source self-hosted solutions online. I did this as an exercise to have more control over my information and how I interacted with it.
I initially tried VPS hosting with a Swiss company because that government has better privacy rules than mine but the company ended up suddenly going under so now I'm with the American DigitalOcean. VPS is of questionable security and so is DigitalOcean, but I'm mostly doing this to learn the processes.
I set up:
-Nextcloud for cloud storage, calendar, RSS, music, photo sharing, document editing, and so on
-YOURLS for a custom URL shortener so I can create links like this: https://go.irminger.org/whyshorten
-Searx for metasearch engine that removes personally identifying information when searching with something like Google and you're welcome to give it a go at https://search.irminger.org
-Ghost for this blog.
There are several others that I plan on exploring. I enjoy spending a few minutes on this project here and there when I have an opportunity. This project allows me the opportunity to create my own solutions to a couple of the problems that I see in the world and to learn a lot. Something I learned through school and from folks around me is that it's important to exert some influence on what technology you're using or else you may find the technology just exerting influence over you.
I'm pleased that I've been able to move away from software as a service solutions like Gmail and have worked to protect my own privacy. I signed up for Gmail when it was invite only and finally deleted my entire Google account just two or three months ago. I've also deleted my Facebook account (read that!) and other corporate social media accounts.
Books that have brought me along this path include:
Bruce Schneier. Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World. 2016.
Adam Greenfield. Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life. 2016.
Cal Newport. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. 2016.