Domains21: Outside Their Domain

And let’s not forget the subtitle “Introducing German Higher Ed to Domain of One’s Own.” YEAH!  In their OERxDomains21 presentation Christian Friedrich and Katharina Schulz discussed their work to introduce the idea of a “Domain of One’s Own” to faculty and staff around Germany. They discuss the groundwork for getting academics to consider the possible benefits of exploring spaces on the web that provide a deeper sense of literacy, control, and application relevance. It’s a far-ranging discussion that looks at the real challenges of buy-in for a Domains project, which is nicely balanced with recalling that providing web space to academics and students has a long, rich global history that in many ways is the root of networked open education

The concepts and ideas around a Domain of One’s Own (DoOO) are not yet widely known or implemented in Germany. While there is a fairly strong ethos of independence in parts of Germany’s OER and ed-tech communities, DoOO has not gained traction.

In this session, we will present a project that started in February 2020. The project’s aim is to provide easily accessible information about DoOO as well as ready-made materials for those who would like to implement DoOO in their teaching. After basic research, we started by recording podcast conversations that explore DoOO from different angles, covering a student’s perspective as well as technical, didactical and strategic aspects. Based on these conversations, our own experiences with DoOO and available materials, we are developing guidelines and checklists for different stakeholders. The project Domain of One’s Own is funded by the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW HH) as part of the Hamburg Open Online University (HOOU), a cooperation of several institutions of higher education in Hamburg.

One of the impulses for our project was EDUCAUSE’s “7 Things You Should Know About a Domain of One’s Own”, which prompted the idea of producing similar materials tailored for the German Higher Ed landscape, while seminal projects at the University of Mary Washington and at Coventry University serve as important reference points. For the German discourse, discussions around digital literacies can provide a basis for starting the conversation about Domains.

In our pre-recorded conversation with Jim Groom, we share an insight into our experiences so far and talk about the challenges connected with advocating for a concept largely based on shifting control from teacher to student in a rather traditional higher education landscape like Germany. During the live session, we look forward to engaging with the communities around OER and DoOO by taking up questions and comments from the chat. With this session, we also hope to spark conversations around how to tackle more conservative spheres of higher education. Some of the questions that could be addressed are:

  • What can a conservative and largely publicly funded Higher Ed landscape gain from DoOO?
  • What kinds of reward structures, staffing structures, technological infrastructure and incentives are ideal for DoOO?
  • What kinds of success stories or good practices can you share about introducing DoOO?

References

EDUCAUSE (2019). 7 Things You Should Know About a Domain of One’s Own. [PDF] Available at: https://library.educause.edu/resources/2019/10/7-things-you-should-know-about-a-domain-of-ones-own [Accessed 09 April 2021].

Coventry University Group (n.d.). Coventry Domains. [online] Available at: https://coventry.domains [Accessed 09 April 2021].

University of Mary Washington (n.d.). Domain of One’s Own. [online] Available at:  https://umw.domains [Accessed 09 April 2021].

Friedrich, C. (2019). Digital Literacies und Offenheit: Was wir tun, damit Menschen das Freie Netz formen können. [online] Available at: https://blog.wikimedia.de/2019/06/27/digital-literacies-und-offenheit-was-wir-tun-damit-menschen-das-freie-netz-formen-koennen/ [Accessed 09 April 2021].

PeerTube, Sonic Outlaws, and UbuWeb

Over a week ago Tim got a one-click installer working on Reclaim Cloud for PeerTube. He got the details up on the Reclaim Hosting Community site already, so you can read more there.

PeerTube in Marketplace

PeerTube in Marketplace

Getting one-click installers working for a wide variety of apps is a big bonus of Reclaim Cloud, and between Azuracast and PeerTube we have the vertical and horizontal pretty well locked-in. I wrote a bit about my explorations with PeerTube already on this blog so feel free to follow that linked rabbit hole for more. But the long and short of this application is that you can upload videos to your own instance of a fairly robust Youtube-like interface. It has a growing peer-to-peer network, and one killer feature is that it can upload and archive just about any video on the web with a URL. I use it regularly to archive videos I watch online given the broken web copyright creates as a result of YouTube take-downs which highlights the worst of the service-centralized internet.

In fact, while Tim and I were working through the PeerTube installer I was watching the 1995 documentary Sonic Outlaws by Craig Baldwin. The copyright bugbear has been with us well before YouTube, and Sonic Outlaws focuses on the fallout of Negativland‘s  decision to parody U2.

Within days after the release of Negativland’s clever parody of U2 and Casey Kasem, recording industry giant Island Records descended upon the band with a battery of lawyers intent on erasing the piece from the history of rock music.

Craig “Tribulation 99” Baldwin follows this and other intellectual property controversies across the contemporary arts scene. Playful and ironic, his cut-and-paste collage-essay surveys the prospects for an “electronic folk culture” in the midst of an increasingly commodified corporate media landscape.

So, long story short, I wanted to see if PeerTube could use the YouTube-dl code to grab and upload the copy of Sonic Outlaws on UbuWeb, and turns out it can, the only thing is the metadata was not included, but that was fairly easy to fill in.

After that I got to thinking about the initial Tweet of this post from UbuWeb about downloading videos and not trusting the cloud.

I wonder if an application like PeerTube might help bridge that gap a bit by re-decentralizing the cloud so that folks could download and share collections like UbuWeb across numerous servers and local machines in order to not only build their own collections, but share them, and hopefully circumvent the copyright trolls that come with the territory of a centralized video service such as YouTube.

Some Conference Thoughts from Digital Ocean’s Deploy

Back in November Tim, Lauren and I presented alongside Kaysi Holman and Inés Vañó García from the CUNY Graduate Center about work we’re doing in higher education using Digital Ocean. The presentation was under 30 minutes long, pre-recorded in Streamyard, and aired two months later as part of the Digital Ocean Deploy conference. it can be easily found online via their Deploy Conference page on YouTube as well. The moderator, Erin Glass, was kind enough to bring us all together to make it happen, and her introduction is in many ways a short preamble of her brilliant article on Ethical EdTech published recently I really enjoyed presenting alongside the folks from the CUNY GC (my alma mater of sorts), but I agree with Tim that when planning what we would talk about I missed the mark a bit. Rather than talking about Reclaim Cloud and the Emulation as a Service idea, we should have talked about our work with the CUNY Commons folks to make a one-click installer for CUNY’s C-Box. That’s on me, and I will try and avoid letting my excitement with the latest cool thing happening at Reclaim Hosting “cloud” my judgement.

I appreciate Erin inviting us, and I also really benefited from seeing how they organized Deploy as a participant given Reclaim Hosting will be joining forces with the OER21 folks to put on a OER21/Domains online conference in late April, and we’re still very much imagining the possibilities for making this as compelling and accessible as possible. One of the elements of Deploy I really appreciated was that the session was pre-recorded almost two months in advance and allowed, which allowed for us to attend the online conference and actually participate in the Discord discussion not only during our session, but for almost a month before that.  This made getting subtitles done seamless, to ensure everything was accessible out the gate.

What’s more, the way the conference was presented there were multiple channels going at once via a Video player hosted on a single page, that also had the schedule. It could not have been easier to access what’s happening across the conference at any given time in one, fell swoop. I also loved the way the kept all sessions to less than 30 minutes, and had awesome preface art, TV-like bumpers, and highlights between sessions, not unlike the transitions between TV shows. And this kept me watching, which I think testifies to something quite powerful. My pre-recording and cleaning up transitions and announcements you have a much better chance of making sure everything is accessible and that folks will stay tuned-in.

And getting back to my lament about not talking about CUNY’s C-Box installer, I believe that having to groups (CUNY GC educators and Reclaim Hosting folks) in conversation makes that 30 minute time-frame that much more compelling. Everyone spent a few minutes sharing their ideas (which made it move well), but I think have a conversation between groups around topics like ethical edtech would be absolutely brilliant, I think this worked really well during the Against Surveillance session with Maha Bali, Chris Gilliard, sava saheli singh, and Benjamin Doxtdator. It was a compelling discussion that balanced both rehearsed points, sharing media, and extemporaneous discussion that was a near perfect combination. They were even braver in that it was live, but I think managing live across several channels for two days is a lot of work, so I would like to see if there is a balance there between pre-recorded and live.

As a start thinking about the Domains sessions in the conference I am wondering how we can connect folks running various projects across different schools with one another to chat, while balancing structured “formal presentation” (i.e. rehearsed talking points) with new ideas that emerge as part of conversations in the moment. That will be a key for me because I think that’s what makes these sessions compelling and memorable.

Digital Ocean Deploy Conference swag

On a slightly different note, their swag game was pretty tight. Not only did they send a nice sweatshirt that arrived the day before the conference, but they also sent a cable bag, microphone port blocker, and webcam cover. Pretty interesting how those final two suggest a kind of ant-surveillance mentality for their participants and presenters, which was cool.

Anyway, these are all post facto notes about Digital Ocean’s Deploy as we begin to dig in for preparing for a fully online OOERxDomains 2021. It’s a fun challenge to work through, and the first step is stealing from other conferences that things that worked and learning from your own mistakes to make the next time around better.

bava.tv brought to you by PeerTube

I recently said something along the lines of….

The nice part about a ds106.tv, as Tim reminds me, is there are no copyright trolls. Small can be very good for a video community. Plus, I have already spent my time dealing with the Youtube copyright crap, and I have no interest to go back there. Everything I have on Vimeo is backed-up locally (and remotely); I basically have my bug-out bag by the door ready to go at anytime. If they delete my videos, it would just mean finding another home for them, and maybe that is exactly what we’ll do with ds106tv  ?

And that is exactly what Tim did when he got the open-source video platform PeerTube up and running for ds106.tv. I took one look at it and immediately knew it was the alternative I’ve been looking for for some time now. What’s more, you gotta love their motto:

Our aim is not to replace them [YouTube, Vimeo, etc.], but rather to simultaneously offer something else, with different values.

One of the coolest things about PeerTube, other than it being free and open, is it’s premised on a decentralized, federated network of a variety of instances (not unlike Mastodon). So, for example, I can federate my own instance, bava.tv, with ds106.tv and folks who come to either can explore what’s on both. Even better, there’s the ability to provide redundancy so we can back-up each others videos in the event of server issues, take-downs, etc. It’s everything ad-revenue and premium video sharing services are not.

But it gets better, it also has the youtube-dl open source python library built-in so that you can migrate your videos off services like YouTube and Vimeo. But as the above Tweet from the Electronic Frontier Foundation makes clear, the youtube-dl code is currently under attack by the MPAA and RIAA for enabling copyright circumvention. In fact, trying to takedown open source code is an already established tactic, back in May the MPA did the same thing to the open source software Popcorn (a Netflix clone). But in that case the developers of Popcorn appealed to Github to re-instate their repo:

The developers submitted a DMCA counternotice explaining that the MPA’s request is not legitimate. The code is owned by Popcorn Time, not the MPA, and Popcorn Time asked GitHub to restore access.

“The code is 100 % ours and do not contain any copyright [sic] material please check again,” the developer wrote.

The app’s developers made a good point here. The identified code (not the built app) is not directly copyright infringing and it contains no direct links to copyright-infringing material either. This means that a DMCA notice may not be the right tool here.

Faced with both requests, GitHub has now decided to restore full access to the Popcorn Time repository.

Let’s hope youtube-dl gets as lucky as Popcorn did back in May, but at the same time you begin to understand that in many ways Github is just as arbitrary and liable as Youtube to remove and block access to our culture, this in the form of code, based on power plays by monied interests. It’s the same mistake of consolidating resources, and by extension power, in the hands of a few monolithic sites (rather than federated across many) that gets us back in the hole.

In fact, the Youtube-dl makes archiving videos you want to save from around the web unbelievably convenient for copying videos in seconds.

It”s been over 8 years since I lost all my videos on YouTube thanks to copyright claims and the unilateral arbitration at the hands of for-profit platforms, so it is nice to finally have a really tight alternative. I have been playing with it for over a week given I wanted to make sure the Docker installation works on Reclaim Cloud (it does!), along with the CLI tools that make migrating an entire Vimeo or YouTube channel to PeerTube absolutely painless. I did this yesterday and brought over over 275 videos, and all the accompanying metadata—so good.

I think the thing I appreciate the most about PeerTube is the way it lets you explore your own and others videos. Tim has been uploading all of his videos to ds106.tv and we are working on federating my site with his (it is actually simple to federate instances, but I deleted my previous instance so there have been some caching issues) and I have been able to discover so many of the old gold DTLT Today episodes, not to mention ds106 gold, and more.

I think the larger plan is to give people account on ds106.tv to upload videos for the ds206.video course we are designing, or even better, help them spin up their own PeerTube instance to see what its all about. To that end I need to work on a one-click install for PeerTube on Reclaim Cloud, which should be very doable, as well as a more in-depth how-to for the peerTube CLI given wrapping your head around that really makes this tool amazing for migrating a large amount of content in a short period of time. ds206.video is already paying dividends and it is still months away from starting. #4life

Serving Up Some Yo La Tengo

This has been quite a semester for shared hosting servers. We spun up D.O.A., Sebadoh, and Wire in January alone, but the hits just keep on coming at Reclaim Hosting. While I was back in Fredericksburg two weeks ago I was binge listening to Yo La Tengo. I could not get enough, and given they’ve been making music since the mid 80s there was plenty to choose from. When we decided we needed a fourth shared hosting server this semester*—there was no question this one would be dedicated to the indie-rock royalty from Hoboken, New Jersey.

Yo La Tengo

My introduction to Yo La Tengo started fairly late with their 1995 album Electr-O-Pura and then their 1997 masterpiece I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. The latter is one of my favorite albums of all-time, and songs like “Sugar Cube,” “Autumn Sweater,” and “Little Honda” (a Beach Boys cover) offer a brilliant insight to this bands metaphorical agility, emo inclinations, and exhilarating joyrides that characterize so much of their music.  

I also love their long, hypnotic instrumentals like “Heard You Looking” off their 1993 album Painful, or “Blue Line Swinger” off Electr-O-Pura:

Or their love ballad “You Can Have it All” (another cover) off And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out.

I could go on like this for a while. But I’m sure you get the point. And unlike most of the bands we name servers after, Yo La Tengo is still going strong after 30 years as a band, with an album due out in March and a tour that will bring them to Italy in May. So with that, I leave you with another ear worm from their album Fade, “Ohm:”

It’s hard not to respect the range, lasting power, and sense of joy this band brings to their work, and that might be one of the reasons they’re quickly becoming an all-time favorite.


*The fact we retired the Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, and Butthole Surfers servers last month and migrated all existing accounts to Wire, D.O.A., and Sebadoh respectively drove a significant amount of the server setup mania the last two months.

Reclaiming Europe with Kraftwerk Server

Concert in Zürich, 1976. The photo comes from the collection of Kraftwerk photos made by Ueli Frey.

Last week our newest server went live in Frankfurt, Germany. This is our first shared hosting server in Europe, and we were able to do it thanks to the fact that Digital Ocean has block storage available in their Frankfurt datacenter. We named the server after Germany’s electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk. And if you are new to this band, the song “Computer Love” off their 1981 album Computer World could double as the soundtrack to the story of how computers have re-defined our society over the last 3 decades since its release.

The Kraftwerk server was spun up on the heels of the Devo server  last month given how quickly the spudboy server was filling up. What’s more, we have been pushing to move our older shared hosting infrastructure to Digital Ocean, which means we needed to spread the now retired Hotrods server across both Devo and Kraftwerk. The Hotrods migration was finished up last week, and Kraftwerk is fully operational with over 300 accounts.

We figured this might also be a good time to offer anyone living in Europe (or elsewhere outside the U.S.) the option to be transferred to this server. If this is something that interests you just fill out the migration form and be sure to specify you want to move your existing account on Reclaim to the Kraftwerk server.

And for more Kraftwerk goodness, check on this BBC interview with the robots themselves:

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.

It’s OK, We’re Only Human

Last week I worked on migrating a number of sites from the Digital Media Lab at the Bard Graduate Center over to Reclaim Hosting.  One of the things I enjoy about doing migrations for folks is a get to see what they are working on. I fell down the rabbit hole of the history of computer user interface design with the brilliant Interface Experience exhibit that was produced for the 2015 exhibit The Interface Experience: 40 Years of Personal Computing. The exhibit was curated by Kimon Keramidas, then Assistant Professor and Director of the Digital Media Lab—now a professor at NYU.
Continue reading “It’s OK, We’re Only Human”