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.

Domains 17 Interview with Martha Burtis: “Web literacy is cultural literacy”

Last Friday the Domains 17 organizing committee got to sit down and chat with Martha Burtis, keynote for the Domains 17 conference, to get a preview of what she’ll be presenting in June. There’s a lot to process in this 50 minute gem, a conversation that ranges from everything to how domains got started to the posts tagline “web literacy as cultural literacy” (one of the many gems from the conversation) to the ongoing work of making digital fluency a foundation of higher ed. It’s a great look at what’s in store, and listening to Martha riff on this stuff really made me miss the 10 years we worked together on all these issues and more.  Few people frame it better, and this conversation underscores the fact that NOBODY thinks domains like the Burtis!

Read more

Domain Sessions

I’m excited to announce that the schedule for Domains 17 is now up and online. It is going to be a pretty awesome two days, and fresh off-the-press is the abstract for Martha Burtis’s keynote “Neither Locked Out Nor Locked In: Finding a Path Through Domain of One’s Own”:

Four years into Domain of One’s Own, I wonder if we are at an inflection point, and, if so, what we will do to respond to this moment. At its onset, Domains offered us paths into the Web that seemed to creatively and adequately address a perception that we weren’t fully inhabiting that space. Our students could carve out digital homes for themselves that were free of the walled gardens of the LMS. Our faculty could begin to think of the Web not as a platform for delivering content but as an ecosystem within which their teaching could live and breathe. In doing so, perhaps we would also engage our communities in deeper conversations about what the Web was and how we could become creators rather than merely consumers of that space. But in those four years, as in any four years, our popular culture, our technical affordances, and our political landscape has continued to march forward. How does Domain of One’s Own grow into and with these changes? Where do we take this project from here so that we continue to push the boundaries or our digital experiences? How do we address the ever-looming tension between building something sustainable while also nurturing new growth?

From there we have a wide variety sessions broken into three tracks: Pedagogy, Domain of One’s Own, and Tools. The categories blur for sure, but they helped us pretend there is some kind of cosmic lattice of coincidence. Sean Michael Morris, Tim Klapdor, and Keegan Long-Wheeler are providing three different lenses on the role of the learning management system on day one. Lora Taub will be framing the Domains project at Muhlenberg as spaces for “transformational resistance.” Brian Lamb, Grant Potter, and Tom Woodward will be running an API audio party, while a cadre of presenters from Michigan State University will be talking about how their digital presence and public scholarship initiative. And did I mention Jon Udell will be joining us too?  And that’s just day one!

Read more

A WHMCS Invalid Token Error and the glory of blogging

I woke up this morning to find that our WHMCS portal for Reclaim Hosting was having some issues. WHMCS is software that enables you to manage the business of cPanel, effectively provisioning, invoicing, billing, renewing, etc. without it people can’t sign-up for new accounts, pay their bill, or access their client area. They can still access their sites through theirdomain.com/cpanel, but they would need to use their SFTP credentials to login their, so it would get bad quick support wise. So, when I discovered the 503 Service Unavailable error I knew I needed to fix this immediately. It happened at both a good and bad time. Good because it was late night in North America, so the demand was not peak. bad because my Reclaim partner Tim Owens was fast asleep 🙂 But, in fact, that might have also been good because I tend to lean on him for this stuff given I’m afraid to mess shit up.

Read more

Reclaiming Europe with Kraftwerk Server

Concert in Zürich, 1976. The photo comes from the collection of Kraftwerk photos made by Ueli Frey.

Last week our newest server went live in Frankfurt, Germany. This is our first shared hosting server in Europe, and we were able to do it thanks to the fact that Digital Ocean has block storage available in their Frankfurt datacenter. We named the server after Germany’s electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk. And if you are new to this band, the song “Computer Love” off their 1981 album Computer World could double as the soundtrack to the story of how computers have re-defined our society over the last 3 decades since its release.

The Kraftwerk server was spun up on the heels of the Devo server  last month given how quickly the spudboy server was filling up. What’s more, we have been pushing to move our older shared hosting infrastructure to Digital Ocean, which means we needed to spread the now retired Hotrods server across both Devo and Kraftwerk. The Hotrods migration was finished up last week, and Kraftwerk is fully operational with over 300 accounts.

We figured this might also be a good time to offer anyone living in Europe (or elsewhere outside the U.S.) the option to be transferred to this server. If this is something that interests you just fill out the migration form and be sure to specify you want to move your existing account on Reclaim to the Kraftwerk server.

And for more Kraftwerk goodness, check on this BBC interview with the robots themselves:

Sharing the Domains Documentation Love

I wanted to make sure Adam Croom gets the appropriate love for helping several schools get up and running with Domains documentation over the last several months. More than a few folks have inquired if we had any recommendations for solid documentation, and it is hard to compete with the new and improved OU Create docs.* Once upon a time, before the Smallest Federated Wiki whisked Mike Caulfield away, we had an idea for federated documentation using DokuWiki, but that never came to be. There was some early momentum to prevent folks from reproducing the documentation wheel—but time, energy, focus, and squirrels got in the way.

More recently a few schools asked us if the could reproduce Oklahoma’s documentation and then customize it for their school, and it turned out that Adam had already done this for Middlebury’s Middcreate. So, he was kind enough to not only help out a few schools by porting over OU Create’s documentation site whole hog, but even wrote up a tutorial on how to do it.

Re-visiting how we re-use and remix documentation resources across schools running Domain of One’s Own will most definitely be on the Domains 17 conference agenda.  I think this is something we need to revisit in order to make this much less arduous. Thanks again Adam, you rule.


David Morgen did some amazing work with Emory’s documentation early and that was the inspiration to try and figure out how to easily share work between schools that wanted to share and re-user Domains documentation.

It Came from the Domains Stacks!

Bryan Mathers is experimenting with animating his art—which is lucky for us—and he has taken the “Domains Death Star Eye in the Sky” poster he created for Domains 17 and gave it life:

But he even got crazier than that in the following video gem (be sure to make it full screen before viewing!):

How cool is that? Embedding that animated brilliance into a stack of records to help define and promote the insanity that will be Domains 17.  Are you ready? Are you animated? Are you registered? No? Let’s take care of that now.