I’ve had a personal website pretty much continuously since I got on the web back in 1993 — you can read about the history of my web presence elsewhere on this site. I’ve had a variety of reasons for having a website at different times, but there are three major drivers.
Control over an independent space
The easiest way to be on the web is to use somebody’s hosted garden (facebook, livejournal, myspace, geocities, etc) and I’ve participated in most of those at some stage. They’re a quick and easy way to get going, it means being stuck inside a space that you don’t control that can change at any time, and you don’t have control over the tools. I’ve been reachable at sprangles.com for quite a long while now, even though the way I deliver content there has changed a lot over the years.
Vaccination against internet sickness
This is effectively my own self-imposed Real Names Policy — it keeps me honest. It’s unfortunately really common for people to become complete assholes when they post anonymously online, and I’ve been guilty of that myself in the past. By linking everything in my online presence back to this site and making it clear (with Real Names) who I am, it vaccinates me against the temptation to say things online that I wouldn’t say face to face.
Connection with strangers
I used to use a personal website for connecting with remote friends and family, mostly by using password-protected posts. I don’t use this website for personal updates any more, but I do like the connection it provides with strangers. Over the years I’ve had a number of people connect with me to discuss the details of various projects I’ve completed, particularly the pantry and the cubby.