I appreciate NYU Libraries’ straightforward approach to their Domain of One’s Own project, they basically say, we’re hosting …. that’s it. In fact, it’s right in their domain: http://hosting.nyu.edu
So when someone recently asked me for various examples of how schools are approaching Domains, I headed over to NYU’s instance, and I was struck again by their ability to quickly distill what this service is and is not.
The Web Hosting vs. Web Publishing table breaks down the difference between something like a WordPress Multisite instance versus a Domain of One’s Own quite nicely. You could argue the last point about portability given WordPress sites on WPMS are pretty easy to migrate, but regardless it is spot on.
Web Hosting vs. Web Publishing
|Requires intermediate web publishing skills||Great for those new to website development|
|Backend Server Access via cPanel, SSH, and FTP||Simple User Interface|
|Allows for one-click installs and endless customization of self-hosted WordPress, Scalar, and Omeka||Limited to WordPress and NYU-approved themes and plugins|
|No charge to NYU users and easy to migrate upon graduation||No charge to NYU user|
I sometimes get defensive when folks I respect bemoan how hard self-hosting remains. I do think the point is a fair one and a Domains roll-out will never (nor was it ever meant to) replace various other university-provided tools that create less friction for publishing—even if some need replacing. But I do think web hosting as a basic utility should have a more prominent place at universities like it does at the NYU Libraries. The way they frame it around research, scholarship, and publishing for the digital era should not seem alien anymore. It should be yet another service universities offer alongside the others because there will increasingly be more and more faculty and students who want and need control over their publishing environments for the academic work they are doing.