Why have a personal website? Isn't it just an excuse to show off pictures of your cat, your significant other, a great poem about cheese that you wrote last week? Well, some of them are just that, and I strongly oppose the use of internet bandwidth for the sole purpose of showing off household pets.
However, there is a largely underutilized potential for the personal website that I'd like to comment on. As I see it, a great deal of the world's problems are derived from a severe lack of communication, a lack of human understanding amongst one another. Just think, there are 5 billion people out there that you don't know; you don't have any idea where they came from, what they're like, where they're headed. You just assume they're pretty much like you and that they'll get along okay without you.
That's not the case. We go to war because we assumed someone was like us and they turned out to be too different. People die because we assume they'll be able to support themselves while we enjoy extreme affluence. Because our field of significance extends only to our family, friends, and the people we "know", we have a very narrow concept of how the "world" is.
The personal website is a great solution to this. Our stories, our interests, our problems, our joys; they make up who we are and when you can share in someone elses, you've suddenly broadened the field of people who are in some way significant to your life. If you can learn about people and what makes them tick, you're a lot more likely to know how to fix the problems that get the world down. You might even learn something about yourself.
The web and internet in general have an enormous potential to change our world, a hundred times as much as it already has. I've encountered people from all over the world I wouldn't have otherwise known about; we might not speak each other's language, but through this incredible technology we can learn about each other, appreciate each other, and openly and directly share the common bond of humanity.
The plunge is worth it. The vulnerability pays off. The potential for getting to know your world is unimaginable. Publish yourself.