This was our first time ever sponsoring a conference as Reclaim Hosting, and it meant that we had a 10 min slot on the afternoon of Day One to quickly speak about who we are and what we stand for. I was elected to do the speaking (an honor that I do not take lightly) so I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say. These ‘sponsor slots’ can quickly feel vendory and salesy, so I made it my absolute mission to take an opposite stance.
Jim happened to record this little talk, and I’ve also decided to include my notes below as I think they do have a way of sharing the Reclaim story quite nicely.
Hey folks- for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Lauren Brumfield.
So a little birdie told me the other day that OER19 is the largest OER conference yet. Which is completely wild- very cool. It also means that there are likely some new faces in the crowd that aren’t super familiar with Reclaim Hosting, and therefore might be a bit confused by page 19 in your OER Program. Which is totally fine, but that means that you haven’t done your homework and now, as punishment, you have to sit and listen to me talk to you for the next hour. Completely kidding- I’ll only be up here for a few minutes, but I really just wanted to quickly go over our video shelf graphic, which actually tells the story of Reclaim Hosting.
Reclaim Hosting provides educators and institutions with an easy way to offer domains and web hosting within the classroom in a way that students and faculty can own and control. Our goal is to make the process for offering flexible web space for your community super seamless with the best support around. We always say that web hosting is nothing new, and in fact we would argue that this is “trailing edge technology”. So with that in mind, we’ve adopted this VHS metaphor and brand. And when we were asked to create an ad for OER19, a shelf with VHS tapes that highlight our values, history, and projects made total sense.
And as a fun fact, OER19 is the first time that we’re sponsoring a conference as Reclaim Hosting. That said, we’ve had a presence in some form or fashion at the OER conferences since 2016. Jim Groom wrote more about this in our OER blog post, which I encourage you to read, but we look forward to coming back year after year to support the ethos of the ALT group and pay tribute to the people and conversations at OER that absolutely make Reclaim Hosting what it is today. For that reason, we had to create a tape for this event. And I’m not sure what ET has to do Open Education, but it was perfect for our aesthetic so there ya go.
The next tape on the shelf is DS106, which arguably inspired the inception of Reclaim Hosting. DS106, which stands for Digital Storytelling, is an open, online course that began at the University of Mary Washington in 2010 and is open to join and leave, participate in and interact with by anyone, at any time. Building this community wasn’t a far jump from creating digital identities on Reclaim Hosting, which started taking off in 2013. DS106 started gaining so much traction, in fact, that Stephen Downes began referring to it as a cult, and this artwork was Martha Burtis’s response to that.
YourDomain . com
As I’ve already mentioned, this idea of curating a digital identity and controlling your digital narrative is something that we’re really passionate about at Reclaim. Your domain . com – Endless possibilities. When a new user signs up for an account and then navigate to their newly registered domain, they will see a VHS tape with their new domain scratch onto the spine of the tape. That splash page was designed by the wonderful Bryan Mathers, and we wanted to make sure that was cataloged on this shelf.
This Devo tape points our server infrastructure, which is obviously the boring part of web hosting. But to make it a little less boring, all of our Shared Hosting servers are named after 80’s punk rock bands. Which, if you know Jim Groom and Tim Owens— the founders of Reclaim— this should not be at all surprising.
As Reclaim has continued to grow over the last couple of years, we’ve been a part of conversations about making web hosting, cPanel, and online applications approachable. Because we realize it can feel scary over overwhelming if you’ve never worked with these tools before. So with that in mind, you may have heard of these things called SPLOTs, or site templates, which allow users to install a version of WordPress, for example, that’s already populated with text and images to help show the possibilities of a given theme or plugin. But if you want to learn more about it, talk with Alan Levine or Brian Lamb- they won’t shut up about it.
So as Reclaim has continued to grow, our support needs have grown as well. And with that, support has become one of the largest focal points that dictates how we spend our time at Reclaim. Being able to offer authentic, helpful, and quick support has always been a top priority for us, so this obviously deserved space on the shelf. And I have to give Tim Owens, our support guru, credit for the beautiful artwork here, as he translated WordPress’s latest update into a Horror film. Which feels very true to form, as the horror around the release of Gutenberg made our support explode a few months ago.
Domains: Your Digital Identity
If you came to OER18, then this might look a little familiar and that’s because it’s taken from the 5 min video that Reclaim Hosting actually produced and released at last year’s conference to not only promote Domains, but our brand new, state of the art VHS store in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The store/alter ego is lovingly referred to as Reclaim Video. It was originally Jim’s personal brainchild, but he easily convinced the rest of the team as another way of making web hosting less boring. So you can actually stop by Reclaim Video to rent out VHS, betamax, and laserdisc (it’s completely free) or at the very least you can go to reclaimvideo.com and watch our awesome promo. (But I’m just a little biased.)
Our last tape on the shelf is for our Domains19 conference, which we will be hosting on June 10 & 11 in Durham, North Carolina. We’re hoping that it will not only be an extension for a lot of the conversations that have happened today and will happen tomorrow, but we’ll also be focusing on the uncertain futures of data ownership, privacy, access, targeted teaching tools, cloud infrastructures. I’m happy to chat further with you about the event if you have any questions, or you can go to domains.reclaimhosting.com for more information.
Be Kind, Reclaim
And to finish: We’ve also just printed these new /Be Kind, Reclaim/ stickers, which you’re welcome to take from our table setup. I personally love the double meaning that they offer. While they were firstly intended to play on the “Be Kind Rewind” stickers that used to go on VHS tapes, I actually enjoy reading it more as a call to action: Be Kind. Reclaim the Web.