My Parents Went to Domains17 and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

Have you registered for Domains 17 yet? There is no time like the present! Especially since we are presently working on the conference t-shirt. Bryan Mathers came up with the following sketch of the shirt…

…based on this email by Lauren Brumfield to get the word out to folks who expressed interest as well as a gentle reminder for scheduled presenters to register. 

There has been some guff from folks, specifically our fellow conference organizer Adam Croom, about Reclaim’s resistance to black t-shirts. Tim Owens has gone on record about his problem with the hegemony of Def Leppard-inspired concert Ts, but Adam promised us the black t-shirts would mean more registrants so it is time for you all to prove him wrong so we can go back to the many colors of the Reclaim Rainbow.

But if you register now we will not hold it against you either.

Michigan State University Domains: “No Scholarly Activity without a Digital Artefact”

I have been dying to catch up with the good folks at Michigan State University and talk about the work they’re doing on the ground with their domains project. I was quite struck by Chris Long‘s ability to so brilliantly frame the importance of building scholarly community around these online tools. What’s more he regularly practices what he preaches with posts on his blog The Long Road, enhanced digital texts, the Digital Dialogue Podcast to name just a few elements of his extensive online vitae. He has been publicly building and sharing his scholarly work online for more than a decade, so when he talks about “Digital Scholarly Presence” (he has also called it “Online Scholarly Presence” on his blog in 2014) it comes from a position of vast experience. He’s been walking the long road of his own digital scholarly presence since he was a Philosophy professor at Penn State until his recent deanship of the College of Arts and Letters (CAS) at Michigan State.

I’ve been following Chris’s work for almost that long, ever since his time at Penn State working with Cole Camplese as a faculty fellow in 2007 or 2008. I was immediately struck by his willingness to openly narrate his scholarly and personal life online through all kinds of media, be it text, audio and/or images—a definite inspiration for me. What’s more, it provided a great example I could point faculty at UMW to. So, it was a real pleasure to finally get to speak with him about his work then and now, and to see how he frames this as academic administrator at one of the largest public campuses in the U.S.

And, as is often the case, it takes a team of folks to build a community, and working side-by-side with Chris on this initiative (as well as on this radio discussion) are Digital Humanities Coordinator @CAS Kristen Mapes and Assistant Dean for Academic and Research Technology Scott Schopierry.* Kristen and Scott have been running a seminar for faculty and graduate students that introduces them to philosophical and practical implications of a scholarly digital presence, wherein the domain is one of many tools faculty use to explore their online presence. Both Scott and Kristen have really thought through the process of on-boarding their community, and I was truly struck by just how intentional, strategic, and robust MSU’s approach to their domains project is.  All three of them can speak quite eloquently about the importance of thoughtfully integrating a vision for digital scholarly presence into the value system of the land grant university. It’s a brilliant marriage, and I came away from this conversation freshly excited about the work I often take for granted these days. Thanks to Kristen, Scott, and Chris for a fun, inspired conversation, and the quote in the sub-title is just a taste of the many gems you’ll in this audio discussion. What’s more, they will all be joining us at the Domains 17 conference in June, you should really come!

Chris Long, Kristen Mapes, and Scott Schopierry from Michigan State University talks Digital Scholarly Presence

N.B. — The recording was captured using audacity, and at moments there is some digital noise, particularly during the last 10 minutes.  I’ll see if I can get help cleaning it up, but for now better to get it out there. 

* Professor Bill Hart-Davidson is another regular collaborator who was not part of the discussion.

The Persistence of Memory

One of the many joys of OER17 was catching up with Bryan Mathers in person. We were chatting before one of the sessions about re-designing the default splash page for new accounts on Reclaim Hosting—the final hold-out from our original design. We talked about the possibility of have a few images rotating through in the splash page, but as usually happens the conversation just found its own way and after talking about memory, archiving, and the web Bryan starting talking about a Salvador Dalí-inspired vision of web-based memory and persistence: Not sure if this will be our new default splash page, but I have no doubts we will find something to do with it. First and foremost a blog post featuring the awesome and soon after framed poster in the new Reclaim offices ?

Corporate Ransomware

Image credit: Blog Ransom Note Sitelock Blog

Last night we got another Reclaimer that was migrating over to us from Bluehost given their site was locked down at because their account reportedly had been hacked. I now understand all to well from the sysadmin side how an infected site can screw up a server. Our plan was to move the account and then do a full scan to quarantine any and all viruses and malware before pointing the DNS.  I ran the scan, and guess what, no viruses, no malware, nada. This person’s site was shutdown for an extended period by Bluehost and then referred to Sitelock because their account was reportedly infected.  Sitelock fixes the problem for a ransom of a fee, and they have to then pay for ongoing protection. It’s literally like the web hosting mob.

What’s more, the site was not infected. This is at least the third time we had a transfer request from a customer who had been referred to Sitelock by Bluehost that had no viruses we could find. How is this acceptable practice?  Is Bluehost cleaning the sites and then shutting down the customer accounts?  These people did not pay Sitelock so it wasn’t them. Something is rotten in Denmark, and I can’t help but think it boils down to one thing: fleecing your customers.  You can promise the world and charge pennies on the dollar because you know in the end you will be collecting those fees in other ways: backups, phony virus protection, etc. When it looks like a scam, and smells like a scam, chances are it is a scam. I just really don’t understand how Bluehost expects to remain relevant when their recent business development seems to be based around cannibalizing their existing clients. When you think about it, this is akin to corporate (a.k.a. legitimatized) ransomware, take down your client’s site, tell them it is infected, push them to make a deal with Sitelock, then sit back and collect your ongoing cut. Some folks have the wherewithal and time to export their stuff and get out, but for many, many others that is far too painful. They are effectively put between a rock and a hard place, like with many ransomware victims who don’t have backups, they are forced to fork out the money.