Reclaim Roadshows and the Specter of ds106

You know it has been a busy week (month, fall, year) when it takes 3 days to blog the latest Bryan Mathers magic for Reclaim Hosting, but such is life as a successful businessman. In fact, I’m putting the cart before the horse here a bit by blogging about the art for our next Roadshow (which will be at Michigan State University in late February, but more on that in my next post) before officially announcing the event, but such is life in the fast lane of corporate edtech. 

Anyway, following on the fun we had at Skidmore College with our first Roadshow we doubled-down with Michigan State for what will be our second Roadshow, and while we were consolidating some of the details it occurred to me we really need some art for these events. For me it is always aesthetic first, truth and details later. So, two weeks ago Lauren and I reached out to Bryan and he was kind enough to turn around a meeting within a few days and we had our discussion. We laid out what the Roadshow was all about, essentially it’s a way for Reclaim to hit the road and bring together folks in specific regions of the US (and soon beyond?!) to provide targeted training to folks who could not make it to our workshop. What’s more, we built in a second day to bring together current Domain of One’s Own schools in the region to share the work they’re doing. And, as we quickly learned at Skidmore, it also provides a unique opportunity for those schools who are interested in exploring Domains to get an on-the-ground look at how it is being used. 

So, we gave Bryan the overview and the discussion got underway and what seems like almost immediately we stumbled on what might be the best Reclaim Hosting marketing campaign to date (I’m little more than a crass marketer after all, but with a heart of gold—unlike all those other thought leaders!). We started talking about road tripping for Reclaim and I could not help but think of the bus…which made me think of the brilliant grant proposal (at the goading of Brian Lamb) we submitted under the aegis of ds106 to the Gates Foundation back in the day to fund a ds106 bus. They couldn’t see the magic, surprisingly, but luckily if you will it, it is no dream…at least on paper. The bus has been re-animated as a Reclaim Roadshow Mystery Van a la Scooby Doo, and it is so damned beautiful I wanna cry!

I’ll talk more about the details around the Ghost of Digital Presence title in my next post, but you get a sense how each Roadshow can be its own episode with various “Monsters of EdTech” (borrowing from the now canonical Audrey Watters after the other day’s “I’m f**king done” announcement—punk rock) as topical villains to animate discussion. In fact, it only makes sense this will all be produced by Reclaim Video. The last discussion I had with Bryan was thinking through what an animated episode of an actual Reclaim Roadshow would look like—maybe Audrey would “ghost write” an episode? So, in order to kickstart some ideas I ordered the first two seasons (1969 and 1970) of Scooby Doo on DVD for holiday watching with the kids, and one of my resolutions for 2019 will be to see if we can create a Saturday Morning Animation series of Edtech. This also touches on another video project I have been wanting to teach, and even wrote an unnecessarily long email to Martin Weller about my ideas around video and teaching, but I should probably save that discussion for another post given this is already running long. 

If nothing else, let this post attest to the fact that Bryan Mathers is an endless fount of creative awesome! 

You’re Invited to the Domains 19 Conference

Nothing makes an event feel more official than when the website finally goes live. And the Domains19 website has been official since last Thursday, so I think it is fair to say this conference is definitely happening. It will be taking place on June 10 and 11th at the 21c Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina. The site art is a throwback to visions of the future during the 80s (hence the “Back to the Future” theme for the conference), and we are fortunate enough to have Ryan Seslow working with us to define the overall conference aesthetic. I’ve found imagining the aesthetic for Reclaim’s various projects over the years some of the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.* I’m biased though, I always feel the coolest and most compelling work comes out of art projects rather than papers. 

So for Domains19 we are hoping folks will explore various topics the event will focus on through a more experimental, interactive proposal of some kind. I’m planning on bringing back to my “Data is the New Flesh” installation from OpenEd 2013 featuring Dr. Oblivion (despite the fact no one has asked for it), and we’re really hoping others follow suit so I’m not entirely alone. In fact, I’ve a sneaking suspicion our keynote speakers, which will be announced over the next few weeks, will be eschewing traditional presentations formats for a more interactive and immersive series of experiences. 

All that said, more traditional presentations and panels are also fine … I guess 🙂 You can find the  call for proposals here, and if you are planing on coming but not presenting the registration page is also live. So, if planning on presenting or just coming to take in the Art of Domains, consider yourself officially invited! We would love to see you all in North Carolina this June to explore a wide variety of pressing themes that will hopefully transport us back to the various possible futures of EdTech.


*The tradition goes back to the myriad design work we’ve done with Bryan Mathers for severla years now, as well as the more recent building out of the Reclaim Video site with Michael Branson Smith.

Reclaim’s VHS Splash

Bryan Mathers‘s developed a VHS splash page for Reclaim Hosting, and we really, really like it. I’ll let him explain the details, while I just revel in its beauty. I will note that the title on the VHS tape is automatically generated based on the domain someone signs up for, so before they install anything in the root of their domain, this is what they will see:

Who has more character than Reclaim Hosting, you ask? #NOBODY!!!!

“Video Killed the Radio Star” at Reclaim Hosting

Lauren posted about this back in January when we first got the art because she is better than me, but Reclaim Hosting‘s site has undergone a subtle re-branding from vinyl to VHS. We launched the new art for our site back in April when we unveiled the Reclaim Video project at OER18. The idea is that the shelf is getting a bit more cluttered ? Next to the vinyl you have those upstart VHS tapes demand some of the real estate. The new logo is a VHS tape, but if you look close enough, all the elements of the vinyl are still there, which was quite brilliant on Bryan Mathers part—surprise, surprise.

The tape is now replacing the record on the site, but the easter egg is still fully operational:

The art is pretty much inline with our look, so perhaps rebranding is too strong a characterization—but it does feel like a new look for me. I particularly like the way shared hosting packages are re-imagined:

Almost works better than the albums, and the single VHS tape with a blank label is something we still need to play with. Bryan worked on a tool that would basically right a URL on the label, something like this:

Or even better , this ?

So, when you create your site for the first time at Reclaim Hosting the splash page could be this VHS tape with your domain name ? This might be something we need to return to sometime soon ? As usual, I am completely enamored with Bryan Mathers handy work, and it is the collaboration that just keeps on giving.

Make Some Noise

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a conversation I had with Bryan Mathers at OER17 regarding the new default splash page for new accounts on Reclaim Hosting. I got so taken away with Bryan’s Dali take on Reclaim that I forgot what we originally talked about: namely a turntable letting folks know their site works and they can login and “Make Some Noise.”

Awesome, right? And Bryan even animated the image, which we are working on integrating for all new shared hosting accounts on Reclaim. 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, imagining the whole Reclaim aesthetic (not to mention the Rockaway Hosting aesthetic) has been the most fun I have had in a long while. It just keeps on making me smile.

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 ?

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.

Domains as Art

I just got another delivery of Domains 2017 art. Damn this conference has the coolest aesthetic ever. Bryan Mathers rules, and he has taken the Sci-fi 70s idea I recently blogged about and is running with it. The examples below are so colorful and gorgeous, and get at the whole play on an early attempt we made at UMW to frame Domain of One’s Own as Cloud City (which none of the students really got, which was bizarre to me). The Domains conference promises to be something totally different, and you can get a sense of that from Lauren‘s recent posts about both OKC and the venue where Domains17 will be. If you are looking for reasons to come, let the focus on space and art be amongst them!

Also, have I mentioned Bryan Mathers rules?

Domains 2017 will be Intergalactic

One of the joys of being on the East Coast of the U.S. right now is waking up to gems like the above video from Bryan Mathers. I already blogged about Bryan’s poster for the Domains 2017 conference, so seeing this 15 second spot Bryan created was heavenly. Between the Beastie Boys “Intergalactic” background music, the roving, pulsating bubble and the rising mechanical hand (reminiscent of the monster on the Queen’s News of the World album cover) I was in heaven. I’ve been criticized for my focus on marketing and promotion, but it’s hard to argue with when it looks this good! Domains 2017 is going to be intergalactic, indeed.