Academics who need a personal website, check out my https://t.co/onrqJPt3Nq project, a ready-to-fork GitHub pages template supporting CV-style content. Difficulty is more than using Wordpress but lower than building your own site from scratch. Over 2,500 people have tried it out!— Stuart Geiger (@staeiou) October 17, 2018
What is your domain name and what is the story, meaning behind your choice of that as a name?
I’ve spent 20+ years working in the entertainment industry in one way or another and was enamored of it long before that. Boffo and socko are slanguage from the trade magazine Variety essentially meaning “fantastically, stupendously outstanding; beyond awesome”, and used together are redundant. I was shocked that the domain name was available so I bought it on a whim expecting I’d do something useful with it in the future. Ultimately who wouldn’t want to be Boffo, Socko, or even both?
In my youth I think I watched Muppets Take Manhattan about 1,000 times and apparently always thought Kermit was cool when he said “Boffo Lenny! Socko Lenny!”
What was your understanding, experience with domains before you got one? Where were you publishing online before having one of your own?
Over the ages I’d had several websites of one stripe or another going back to the early/mid-90’s when I was in college and everyone was learning about and using the web together. Many of my domains had a ~ in them which was common at the time. I primarily used them to promote work I was doing in school or with various groups. Later I remember spending a lot of time setting up WordPress and Drupal sites, often for friends, but didn’t actually do much with my own. For me it was an entry point into working with coding and simply playing with new technology.
I didn’t actually begin putting a lot of material online until the social media revolution began in 2006/2007. In 2008, I purchased a handful of domain names, many of which I’m still maintaining now. Ultimately I began posting more of my own material, photos, and observations online in a now defunct Posterous account in early 2010. Before it got shut down I had moved back to WordPress which gave me a lot more freedom and flexibility.
What was a compelling feature, reason, motivation for you to get and use a domain? When you started what did you think you would put there?
When I bought my first handful of domains, it was primarily to begin to own and brand my own identity online. I wasn’t sure what exactly I was going to do with them, but I was posting so much content to Facebook and Twitter I thought I ought to be posting it all (especially the longer form, and in my mind, more valuable content) to a site I owned and controlled and then syndicating the content to those other sites instead. Initially microblogging, bookmarking, posting checkins, and sharing photos made it easier to being writing and producing other things.
What kinds of sites have you set up on your domain since then? How are you using them? Please share URLs!
Most of my domains are personal and personal education related, though I do have a few for separate business/work purposes.
I use it to (privately or publicly):
- collect bookmarks of interesting things I see online or want to read in the future;
- post about what I’m reading, watching, or listening to;
- post what I’m eating, drinking, or places I’ve checked into, photos of things around me;
- post podcasts and microcasts from time to time;
- draft and synthesize big pieces of the above to write reviews or longer pieces (from articles to books) and publish them for others to read.
Generally I do everything others would do on any one of hundreds of other social media websites (and I’ve got all those too, though I use them far less), but I’m doing it in a centralized place that I own and control and don’t have to worry about it or certain pieces of functionality disappearing in the future.
In large part, I use my website like a modern day commonplace book. It’s where I post most of what I’m thinking and writing on a regular basis and it’s easily searchable as an off-board memory. I’m thrilled to have been able to inspire others to do much the same, often to the extent that many have copied my Brief Philosophy word-for-word to their “About” pages.
Almost everything I do online starts on my own domain now, and, when appropriate, I syndicate content to other places to make it easier for friends, family, colleagues, and others to read that content in other channels and communicate with me.
https://chrisaldrich.withknown.com — This is a WithKnown-based website that I used when I initially got started in the IndieWeb movement. It was built with IndieWeb and POSSE functionality in mind and was dead simple to use with a nice interface.
http://stream.boffosocko.com — Eventually I realized it wasn’t difficult to set up and maintain my own WithKnown site, and it gave me additional control. I made it a subdomain of my primary website. I’ve slowly been using it less and less as I’ve been able to do more and more with my WordPress website. Now I primarily use it for experiments as well as for quick mobile replies to sites like Twitter.
What helped you or would have helped you more when you started using your domain? What do you still struggle with?
Having more examples of things that are possible with a domain and having potential mentors to support me in what I was attempting to do. I wish I had come across the IndieWeb movement and their supportive community far earlier. I wish some of the functionality and web standards that exist now had been around earlier.
I still struggle with writing the code I’d like to have to create particular pieces of functionality. I wish I was a better UX/UI/design person to create some of the look and feel pieces I wish I had. Since I don’t (yet), I’m trying to help others maintain and promote pieces of their projects, which I use regularly.
I still wish I had a better/more robust feed reader more tightly integrated into my website. I wish there was better/easier micropub support for various applications so that I could more easily capture and publish content on my website.
What kind of future plans to you have for your domain?
I’d like to continue evolving the ability to manage and triage my reading workflows on my own site.
I’d like to be able to use it to more easily and prettily collect things I’m highlighting and annotating on the web in a way that allows me to unconditionally own all the relevant data without relying on third parties.
Eventually I’d like to be able to use it to publish books or produce and distribute video directly.
I’m also continuing to document my experiments with my domain so that others can see what I’ve done, borrow it, modify it, or more easily change it to suit their needs. I also do this so that my future (forgetful) self will be able to remember what I did and why and either add to or change it more easily.
Tomorrow I’m positive I’ll see someone using their own website to do something cool or awesome that I wish I had thought to do. Then I hope I won’t have to work too hard to make it happen for myself. These itches never seem to stop because, on your own domain, nearly anything is possible.
What would you say to other educators about the value, reason why to have a domain of your own? What will it take them to get going with their own domain?
Collecting, learning, analyzing, and creating have been central to academic purposes since the beginning of time. Every day I’m able to do these things more quickly and easily in conjunction with using my own domain. With new tools and standards I’m also able to much more easily carry on two-way dialogues with a broader community on the internet.
I hope that one day we’re able to all self-publish and improve our own content to the point that we won’t need to rely on others as much for many of the moving parts. Until then things continue to gradually improve, so why not join in so that the improvement accelerates? Who knows? Perhaps that thing you would do with your domain becomes the tipping point for millions of others to do so as well?
To get going it only takes some desire. There are hundreds of free or nearly free services you can utilize to get things rolling. If you need help or a mentor, I’m happy to serve as that to get you going. If you’d like a community and even more help, come join the IndieWeb chat room. You can also look for a local (or virtual) Homebrew Website Club; a WordPress Meetup or Camp, or Drupal Meetup or Camp; or any one of dozens of other groups or communities that can help you get moving.
Welcome to the revolution!
I’m reconsidered ‘where’ and how I wish to be online, and I see new reasons to move away from large social media platforms and toward my own, self-managed and personally maintained strand of the web. More importantly, I feel a need to take accountability for myself online. There are things I believe it is very important to share, precisely because my de-platforming means others may access my shared content without fear of my exploiting or monetizing them as they do so. I see this renewed interest in working and sharing publicly as a way to counter robotized disinformation. Part of the new web I wish to engage is a web of trust, credibility, and accountability.
In future posts, I’ll walk through my sense of ‘right action’ as it pertains to working and being on the web, and why I feel it too important to sit it out as I have been. I’ll share what I discover, particularly when I can accomplish something useful upon the Domain of One’s Own platform. I am prioritizing those things I’ve done online that pertain to scholarly work and digital learning, but there may be other stuff, too.
I see self-platforming as an expression of my own digital citizenship, and I also see it as my deliberate answer to the call for digital sanctuary. The frequency and extent to which educators urge students onto extractive applications is of great concern. Self-platforming offers opportunities to benefit from the collaborative, hyper-textual, asynchronous, and distributed qualities of the web, while diminishing the costs — often hidden to us — of working on proprietary and extractive platforms.
Needing to rely on five or more outside services (Twitter, Instapaper, Pinboard, bit.ly, and finally even Canvas, where some of them are paid services) seems just painful and excessive. He mentions the amount and level of detail he’s potentially giving away to just bit.ly, but each of these are all taking a bite out of the process. Of course this doesn’t take into consideration the fact that Instapaper is actually a subsidiary of Betaworks, the company that owns and controls bit.ly, so there’s even more personal detail being consumed and aggregated there than he may be aware. All this is compounded by the fact that Instapaper is currently completely blocking its users within the EU because it hasn’t been able to comply with the privacy and personal data details/restrictions of the GDPR. Naturally, there’s currently no restrictions on it in the U.S. or other parts of the world.
I (and many others) have been hacking away for the past several years in trying to tame much of our personal data in a better way to own it and control it for ourselves. And isn’t this part of the point of having a domain of one’s own? Even his solution of using Shaarli to self-host his own bookmarks, while interesting, seems painful to me in some aspects. Though he owns and controls the data, because it sits on a separate domain it’s not as tightly integrated into his primary site or as easily searched. To be even more useful, it needs additional coding and integration into his primary site which appears to run on WordPress. With the givens, it looks more like he’s spending some additional time running his own separate free-standing social media silo just for bookmarks. Why not have it as part of his primary personal hub online?
I’ve been watching a growing trend of folks both within the IndieWeb/DoOO and edtech spaces begin using their websites like a commonplace book to host a growing majority of their own online and social related data. This makes it all easier to find, reference, consume, and even create new content in the future. On their own sites, they’re conglomerating all their data about what they’re reading, highlighting, annotating, bookmarking, liking, favoriting, and watching in addition to their notes and thoughts. When appropriate, they’re sharing that content publicly (more than half my website is hidden privately on my back end, but still searchable and useful only to me) or even syndicating it out to social sites like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instapaper, et al. to share it within other networks.
Some other examples of educators and researchers doing this other than myself include Aaron Davis, Greg McVerry, John Johnson, and more recently W. Ian O’Byrne and Cathie LeBlanc among many others. Some have chosen to do it on their primary site while others are experimenting using two or even more. I would hope that as Tim explores, he continues to document his process as well as the pros and cons of what he does and the resultant effects. But I also hopes he discovers this growing community of scholars, teachers, programmers and experimenters who have been playing in the same space so that he knows he’s not alone and perhaps to prevent himself from going down some rabbit holes some of us have explored all too well. Or to use what may be a familiar bit of lingo to him, I hope he joins our impromptu, but growing personal learning network (PLN).
A Domain of One's Own is an international initiative in higher education to give students and faculty more control over their personal data. The movement started at the University of Mary Washington in 2012, and has since grown to tens of thousands of faculty and students across hundreds of universities. The first part of this presentation (5-10 minutes) will provide a brief overview of how these Domains projects enable not only data portability for coursework, but also a reflective sense of what a digital identity might mean in terms of privacy and data ownership.
The second part of this presentation will explore how Domain of One's Own could provides a powerful example in how higher education could harness application programming interfaces (APIs) to build a more user-empowered data ecosystem at universities. The initial imaginings of this work has already begun at Brigham Young University in collaboration with Reclaim Hosting, and we will share a blueprint of what a vision of the Personal API could mean for a human-centric data future in the realm of education and beyond.
Toward the end, Groom makes mention of MyData, a Nordic Model for human-centered personal data management and processing, which I’d not previously heard of but which has some interesting resources which look like they might dovetail into some of what those in the IndieWeb are looking at. I’m curious if any of the folks in the EU like Sebastian Greger have come across them, and what their thoughts are on the idea/model they’ve proposed? It looks like they’ve got an interesting looking conference coming up at the end of August in Helsinki. There seems to be a white paper outlining a piece of their philosophy, which I’ll link to below:
MyData: A Nordic Model for human-centered personal data management and processing by Antti Poikola (t), Kai Kuikkaniemi (t), Harri Honko (t)
This white paper presents a framework, principles, and a model for a human-centric approach to the managing and processing of personal information. The approach – defined as MyData – is based on the right of individuals to access the data collected about them. The core idea is that individuals should be in control of their own data. The MyData approach aims at strengthening digital human rights while opening new opportunities for businesses to develop innovative personal data based services built on mutual trust.
Based on a quick overview, this is somewhat similar to a model I’ve considered and is reminiscent to some ideas I’ve been harboring about applications of this type of data to the journalism sphere as well.
“Giving students their own digital domain is a radical act. It gives them the ability to work on the Web and with the Web.”
In this article, she touches on some reasons why it’s important for students to have their own domain, but many of these ideas and arguments also work well for almost anyone. It’s interesting to see how similar the philosophy she describes here dovetails with that of the IndieWeb.
Do you want to work with students to publish class assignments or research? Instructors use PressForward in the classroom to consolidate and review student assignments, help students learn to survey their fields, and create opportunities for collaboration, communication, and research. The Lewis & Clark College Environmental Studies Program produces Environment Across Boundaries, a student-led publication that cultivates interdisciplinary perspectives on environmental issues. Participation gives students an opportunity to engage with their discipline through experiential, project based learning. They develop skills both in their field and with a suite of digital tools.
Sketch idea: create a standalone WordPress site for a course, install the PressForward plugin, input the RSS feeds for students’ websites to aggregate all their work collectively into one space. Various ideas include:
- Use the feed for students and teacher to keep up with the entire classroom.
- Publish an OPML file for students to easily subscribe to all feeds in their feed reader of choice.
- Optionally publish the highlights of the best work or even all of it.
- Teachers could use the feed to check that students are posting/keeping up with assignments for grading purposes.
- Use the read/unread functionality to “mark” pieces as graded/ungraded or seen/unseen.
- Use the internal commenting system to keep private notes on student’s work.
- Create output feeds for specific tags and/or categories
- Works with any student sites that produce feeds, not just WordPress, so students have choices of different CMSes.
- Use the nomination functionality to quickly aggregate and disseminate online sources for classroom assignments or readings.
I had contemplated planet like aggregation at the recent WPCampus online conference. It’s interesting to see that PressForward has considered it as a use case as well though I’d love to hear about or see examples of this in the wild.
How else could this rich, multi-functional Swiss Army knife-like plugin be used in education?
The University of Mary Washington’s initiative, “Domain of One’s Own,” is phrased thusly as a nod to Virginia Woolf’s essay “A Room of One’s Own,” in which she famously quipped that “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” We can critique – and certainly we should – the class implications and expectations in Woolf’s commandment here; and we must consider both the financial burden and the transaction mechanism of a push for domains in education – as Maha notes, for example, many students in Egypt don’t have a credit card with which to make online purchases. “Give her a room of her own and five hundred a year, let her speak her mind and leave out half that she now puts in, and she will write a better book one of these days,” Woolf wrote in 1929. (That 500 quid is the equivalent to about $37,000 when adjusted for inflation.) But Woolf is not simply talking about having a piece of paper – a title, for example – that decrees she owns the room. It’s about having the financial freedom and a personal space to write. To own is to possess. To own is to have authority and control. To own is to acknowledge. It implies a responsibility. Ownership is a legal designation; but it’s something more than that too. It’s something more and then, without legal protection, the word also means something less.
Brett recently laid out his reasons for keeping his own web site in the age of powerful, easy-to-use alternatives like Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter. He do...
In a previous post, I talked about POSSE and PESOS, and publishing on your own site vs other platforms, syndicating content back and forth and content ownership. I mentioned that I’d opted for the PESOS approach, and that I was publishing content on other platforms, then syndicating it back to my own site. Let’s take a look at how that happens.
I’ve been using WordPress to power my own website for a while now, and working with it in some way or another for even longer. Over the years, I’ve developed the belief that it’s a pretty perfect platform for people to build their own “digital home on the web”, considering the range of plugins and themes available, the flexibility of the publishing options it offers, and the fact that it’s completely open source, so you can do whatever you want with it.
That last bit is important in more ways than you might immediately think. Apart from just being able to write my own plugins or tweak my themes, this also means that I own my own data. I think in this MySpace/Facebook generation, people are all too loose with the data trails they create — giving up ownership of their digital self at the drop of a hat. In case you didn’t realize, when you use something like Facebook, it is not the product, you and your data are the product.