Selfishness can lead to some pretty great places. All right, that’s not always true. In fact, it’s not even usually true. But on occasion, the right type of selfishness might yield something unexpected, something positive.

I’m a writer with two novels (unpublished) under my belt and a handful of short stories published in various magazines and journals. I do (or, did) all of my writing in Google Docs. I was sold on the convenience. I was sold on being able to start writing on one device then move to another device and keep on writing. What I wasn’t sold on, and what I became increasingly wary of over time, is how much control Google actually had over my work.

The truth is, every word I wrote, spreadsheet I created, and file I uploaded belonged to Google. Sure, their privacy policy and terms might state that I’m only granting them license and that my work is still my work. But is that really true? If they are the gatekeeper and can lock me out of my account, do I really own anything in that account?

To me, the answer was no. To others, the answer may have been something like “Why would Google shut down my account” or “I haven’t done anything and I’m not going to do anything to get locked out.”

Maybe.

But what happens if Google mistakenly locks you out of your account? What happens if you do violate a portion of their terms of use (that I’m quite confident you didn’t read)?

The solution for me was self-ownership of data. If I write in a physical notebook, that information is mine and mine alone. I only have to worry about securing the notebook itself. I thought that was the way software should be as well. Thankfully there was a platform already out there to make that happen.

Enter, Blockstack.

Blockstack uses the bitcoin blockchain to enable encrypted and decentralized application development. Decentralization, in turn, allows for self-ownership of data. Exactly what I wanted.

Move your budgets, income statements, and other files away from Google Sheets

So, I started building Graphite. I built it just for me, but it turned out other people liked it. Other people wanted it. And it could do a lot more than I originally anticipated when I started building. From the simple decentralized word processor I originally built, Graphite has grown into a full-blown Google G-Suite replacement in the making.

My selfish start enabled the creation of something that can and will be truly meaningful. I hope you’ll give Graphite a try, stop using Google, and start owning your data.