Tim Owens

Tim Owens

Building a Community instead of a Company

I tend to think that language and phrasing is a powerful indicator of priorities. The web hosting industry is filled with smoke and mirrors meant to obfuscate and confuse by way of jargon, smoke, and mirror. “No hidden fees” can easily appear next to a feature list that has at least 3 asterisks to clarify what “Unlimited” and “Optimized” might actually mean to your host. Jim has talked about what we’re doing with web hosting and the Domain of One’s Own project with a reference to Jon Udell as trailing edge technologies. Rather than come up with trendy names like “Cloud-based Grid Resources” we stick to the basics and do our best to make sure you understand what comes in the box. The fact is this stuff isn’t new or innovative, but we’re pushing on it because we believe that it was and remains a powerful way to build on the web. Giving you a toolbox might be intimidating at first and we’re constantly pushing on how to make that accessible, but the alternative world of glossy additional layers between you and the tools you use to build your identity in these spaces is not one we want to inhabit.

One great example of language choice in that regard is how I refer to our users. Users. Even as I type that I can’t stand the term. It feels completely faceless, and yet I’m lucky enough to know so many of the faces of fine folks that choose to host with us and I meet more every day. So you’ll often see me refer to Reclaim Hosting as a community rather than just users or a company. Like any community it probably has more work to be done in building interactions with each other, but I think it’s important to know you’re not in this alone and you’re not just a faceless user to a company with a business that forces you to figure it out yourself or pay exorbitant support costs to get help.

When I get the chance to help you fix a problem on your site or answer a question about what you’re working on it’s also an opportunity for me to learn a bit more about you and what you’re doing. You’re a high school Psychology teacher that used to play with Frontpage but hasn’t tried building a site in years. You’re a historian that wants to explore the deep seas of what it means to be a digital scholar and perhaps play with some of those tools you keep hearing about at AHA. You’re a student in the journalism program at your college discovering how to use the web to market yourself and perhaps rethink online publishing in the process. I don’t just refuse the stale business terms on principle, I refuse them because how can I work with an awesome community of educators, students, and real people like you and call it anything else? It’s a privilege to play a part in helping advance our corner of the web together and rest assured that as long as you’re with Reclaim you’ll always have support both from us and from each other to help you when you need it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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