Reclaim Roadshow at MSU: the Ghost of Digital Presence

We are happy to announce our second Reclaim Roadshow at Michigan State University on February 21st and 22nd of next year. As I already noted in my last post, I’m pretty thrilled with the Scooby-Doo inspired aesthetic we dreamed up for our Roadshows, and this is the first time we are putting into action. In fact, you can head over to the site and see how it’s “rolled out.” 

I would also recommend reading Lauren’s post on her creation process of the website for the Roadshow, which simply pops! But lest this devolve into a backslapping post about how awesome the art is (there will be plenty more posts about that ? ) it might be helpful to talk a bit about this event. When we were considering the Roadshow originally we actually reached out to Michigan State first given the great work Chris Long, Kristen Mapes and Scott Schopieray have done to promote the idea of Digital Presence for their faculty and graduate students. They really nailed the concept with a short video they produce a couple of years ago that sums up their vision quite well:

Originally MSU was going to be our first Roadshow, but when the opportunity to try it out at Skidmore College availed itself we grabbed it, and I am glad we did because I think the experience will make the MSU Roadshow that much better. The plan for February is that we will run a focused workshop on February 21st that will be an opportunity for folks managing Domains at their campus (or who will soon be) to get an in-depth look at the backend of the system. If you are interested in this workshop you can register here.

On February 22nd (day 2) the good folks at MSU will be organizing a day-long  event loosely organized around the topic of Digital Presence. I am excited about the unconference approach, and it is something quite different from what we did at Skidmore College. MSU recently hired Kathleen Fitzpatrick as the Director of Digital Humanities and her pushing on academia reclaiming their web presence for publishing and beyond with her work at the MLA with Commons in a Box offers a unique and exciting opportunity to bring together folks exploring the intersections of Digital Humanities, the Indie Web, and broader ideas of digital identity. I’m getting excited just writing about it. So, if you have no interest in the workshop, but want to come for a day-long conference dealing with a wide range of concerns around the specter of digital presence (you like what I did there?) then sign-up for day 2 and come join us at MSU.

Well, that’s it for now, I need to get this officially announced before the holidays, but I’ll be sure to say more later next week after the Christmas dust settles to start drumming up interest in what promises to be a pretty awesome Roadshow.

Reclaiming Domain Privacy

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One of the issues that’s gotten increasingly troublesome recently has been the increasingly more aggressive domain registration spam and scams. As I wrote earlier this year, it’s gotten to the point where companies are calling our clients soon after sign-up pretending to work for Reclaim and asking for credit card information. This is unconscionable, and we knew then and there we could no longer make identity protection for domains optional. So, as of January 1, 2017 we will be including ID protect for all new domains, whether registered individually or as part of a hosting account.

There is a cost involved in doing this, so we will be increasing the price of domains to $15 /year, and Student and Faculty shared hosting accounts will be raised to $30 and $50 /year respectively. We understand increasing prices may not be ideal for many, but being able to guarantee Reclaimers’ online identity helps justify the costs while reinforcing an ethos of openness and vigilance when it comes to one’s digital lifebits.

Let us know in the comments below if you have questions or concerns.

Nota bene: Any existing coupon codes that entail bulk account purchases will be honored at previous pricing structure.

Password Management Ground Zero for Digital Literacy

During the open infrastructure panel at the OpenVA conference in Virginia Beach this past Fall, Martha Burtis had a great little tear about how we should focus less on centrally integrated IT systems that hide complexity, and push towards loosely coupled systems that reflect more accurately how the web works. She went on to advocate that rather than endlessly pursuing the holy grail of single sign-on, institutions should we spend time showing their community how to use a password manager. It’s a great, provocative bit, and captures Martha acumen quite nicely:

It’s a moment I have thought about many times since, and while I was traveling during the second week of the Domain of One’s Own Faculty Initiative this spring, Martha sat in for me with my cohort. She introduced them all to the password management tool LastPass, and effectively changed their digital lives :) I am only half kidding. If you have worked with faculty or students regularly, you quickly realize how difficult managing passwords is for most folks. I often tell #ds106 internauts that the biggest technical challenge they’ll face in the course is managing their various passwords, and it’s absolutely true.

Password management tools like LastPass (we use that to collectively manage our DTLT passwords thanks to Ryan Brazell) and 1Password (we use that for Reclaim Hosting  thanks to Kin Lane) have increasingly become essential to my regular web workflow. With the advent of UMW Domains (not to mention all of our servers for Reclaim) I have as many as 25-30 different logins for work alone. Remembering them is impossible, and storing them locally on my browser or in my keychain is not only risky, but they don’t travel well (or at all) to other computers. Turns out learning a password management tool was one of the most useful lessons for me this year, and that was also the case for several UMW Domains faculty in my cohort, thanks to Martha.

I’m starting to think password management should be ground zero for literacy when it comes to managing your online world. It was immediately apparent how big an impact it made on faculty in the cohort. That might be why Kin Lane suggests your first step to reclaiming your online world is taking inventory of all your online services (as well as the logins and passwords) so you can actually begin to understand how extensive your online world is, and how much you need to start managing that presence. The lesson is both practical and conceptual all at once, it’s a great way to start any conversation around managing one’s identity online.