The Story of My Domain

Alan Levine recently put out a request for stories about domains as a part of the Ontario Extend project. While I have traditionally identified more with the IndieWeb movement, a lot of how I use my website dovetails with the Domain of One's Own philosophy.

Here are my answers to Alan’s list of questions about my domain:

What is your domain name and what is the story, meaning behind your choice of that as a name?

I use the domain name BoffoSocko as my online identity.

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.

https://www.boffosocko.com is my primary, personal, catch-all domain run with WordPress. I can do almost anything and everything I want with it at this point.

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!

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👓 Telling the Story of My Domain | Aaron Davis

Read Telling the Story of My Domain by Aaron Davis (Read Write Respond)
Alan Levine recently put out a request for stories about domains as a part of the Ontario Extend project What is your domain name and what is the story, meaning behind your choice of that as a name? In part, my domain name comes from my interest in the notion of marginalia, the stuff that we write, ...

I saw Alan’s call for submissions the other day and need to get around to posting my own.

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Reply to a reply to Dan Cohen tweet

Replied to Reply to Dan Cohen tweet by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (BoffoSocko)
Dan, There are a lot of moving pieces in your question and a variety of ways to implement them depending on your needs and particular website set up. Fortunately there are lots of educators playing around in these spaces already who are experimenting with various means and methods as well as some of their short and long term implications.

@jbj Given the number of people I’ve seen experimenting over the past months, I’d be happy to put together a series of short pieces for @ProfHacker covering the areas of overlap of between #edtech, #DoOO, #indieweb, research, academic publishing, samizdat, commonplace books, etc. Essentially tighter versions of some of https://boffosocko.com/research/indieweb/ but specifically targeting the education space using WordPress, Known, and Grav. Let me know if you’d accept submissions for the community.

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👓 I blew it at THATCamp & it knocked me off my own web | Simulacrumbly

Read I blew it at THATCamp & it knocked me off my own web by Tim Clarke (simulacrumbly.com)

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.

A beginnings story about thoughtfully bringing one’s online digital presence back online. I can’t wait to read about future explorations from Tim.

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👓 Self-platforming, DoOO, and academic workflows | Tim Clarke

Read Self-platforming, DoOO, and academic workflows by Tim ClarkeTim Clarke (simulacrumbly.com)
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.

I love that Tim is looking closely at how the choices of tools he’s using can potentially impact his students/readers. I’ve also been in the boat he’s in–trying to wrangle some simple data in a way that makes it easy to collect, read, and disseminate content for myself, students, and other audiences.

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).

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📺 re:publica 2018 – Jim Groom: Domain of One’s Own: Reclaim Your Data | YouTube

Watched re:publica 2018: Domain of One's Own: Reclaim Your Data by Jim GroomJim Groom from YouTube

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.

A short talk at the re:publica conference in Germany which touches on the intersection of the Domain of One’s Own which is very similar to the broader IndieWeb movement. POSSE makes a brief appearance at the end of the presentation, although just on a slide with an implicit definition rather than a more full-fledged discussion.

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.

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👓 The Web We Need to Give Students | BRIGHT Magazine

Read The Web We Need to Give Students by Audrey Watters (BRIGHT Magazine)
“Giving students their own digital domain is a radical act. It gives them the ability to work on the Web and with the Web.”

Not sure how this surfaced into my feeds again today, but interesting to see it pop up. I’m also noticing that Audrey smartly posted a copy to her own site after it appeared in Bright.

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.

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👓 What’s a Sysadmin to Do? — Avoiding Digital Detritus on a Blogging Platform Older than All of My Kids | DTLT

Read What’s a Sysadmin to Do? — Avoiding Digital Detritus on a Blogging Platform Older than All of My Kids by Kris Shaffer (umwdtlt.com (DTLT))

We have a lot of blogs.

I don’t just mean those of us in DTLT — we do have a lot of blogs. I mean the University of Mary Washington. UMW currently has over 2500 active domains in our Domain of One’s Own program (and almost 3500 domains all-time), and that’s to say nothing about how many blogs and websites are on those domains and their subdomains.

But before there was Domain of One’s Own there was (and still is) UMW Blogs. After three years of DTLT staff and a few UMW faculty experimenting with blogs in and out of class, UMW Blogs launched in 2007 — a WordPress installation that allowed any student, faculty, or staff member to get their own subdomain (like mygreatblog.umwblogs.org) and WordPress site, administered by DTLT. Since then, the 600 blogs of 2007 grew to over 11,000 blogs and 13,000 users in 2018!

Some interesting thoughts on maintaining a large Domain of One’s Own (DoOO) installation.

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Add Twitter mentions of #DoOO to one of IndieWeb chat channels

Filed an Issue Loqi (GitHub)
Loqi is a friendly IRC bot https://indieweb.org/Loqi

The #DoOO (Domain of One’s Own) hashtag on Twitter is essentially an equivalent of the #IndieWeb hashtag, but more often used by the education segment of the community. While used by educators and researchers, particularly in higher education, their content typically isn’t restricted to that sub-segment and thus are broadly applicable to our overall principles. Many using the hashtag are administrators, developers, and evangelists overseeing large installations to help Gen2+ people join the IndieWeb at scale.

Adding #DoOO tweets to one of the channels (#indieweb or #dev) could certainly make sense for the community and be a welcoming addition to those joining us from the education related communities, many of whom have attended past IWCs or are actively participating already.

Current hashtag frequency is roughly 1-3 tweets per day, though for related conferences, their velocity can go higher on a particular day. Higher velocity days likely only occur 1-3 days per year.

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Following Taylor Jadin

Followed Taylor Jadin (jadin.me)
I am a Learning Technologies Specialist at St. Norbert College. I love when teaching and technology intersect.

tweet, post pictures to Instagram, and occasionally write code. I also like to ramble on the EdTech Magecast and the Jadin Approved podcast.

Ran across Taylor as a result of his work with Open Domains Lab via Twitter. I’m curious about his other work with DoOO.

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Following Heather Sears

Followed Researcher Developer – one way or another, I’m gonna get you… by Dr. Heather SearsDr. Heather Sears (heatherjsears.coventry.domains)
My focus in the Doctoral College & Centre for Research Capability and Development at Coventry University is doctoral training – providing leadership and coordination of training and development for postgraduate researchers.

I have responsibility for a new and innovative programme of development for all postgraduate researchers, alongside supporting the development and delivery of bespoke DTC programmes aligned to the Researcher Development Framework, business/industry-partner needs and the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.

Ran across her Twitter feed courtesy of #PressedConf18.

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Replied to a tweet by Heather SearsHeather Sears (Twitter)
4. I signed up for a pilot account immediately. There were a host of apps to experiment with. I was particularly delighted to hear that I’d finally have institutional space and easy to use WordPress to run #10DoT https://10daysoftwitter.wordpress.com/ #pressedconf18

I’ve done something similar to #10DoT for independent authors before to promote their books, but it could also be an interesting model for helping people to set up #IndieWeb or #DoOO websites as well.

The underlying idea is also reminiscent of some strong advice to a beginner I saw in the IndieWeb chat last week: “Start small, then make incremental steps. Don’t eat the whale all at once.” – Scott Merrill

And then, just as I’m about to make this post and syndicate it out, I notice that Taylor Jaydin is doing something similar as an in-person laboratory for their #DoOO project:

This Open Domains Lab sounds very similar in nature to the long-running Homebrew Website Club concept.  It makes me wonder if we couldn’t help to better dovetail some of the IndieWeb and DoOO communities’ efforts? Perhaps we could utilize pieces of the IndieWeb wiki like IndieWeb for Education, DoOO, or similar pages. Perhaps the IndieWeb community might consider sucking the #DoOO hashtag into the chat there as well? If Taylor is open to it, perhaps it’s worth listing their Open Domains Lab on the IndieWeb wiki’s schedule of upcoming events? They might also use the IndieWeb chat functionality for the virtual portion of their program to increase interaction. I’d certainly welcome them to have interested parties stop by on either the wiki or via the simple-to-use webchat 24/7 if they need help, resources, or motivation of any kind.

Incidentally, I’ll note that Taylor very naturally POSSEd a copy of the post from his own website to https://knight.domains/thinkdeeper/open-domains-lab/ as well.

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Following Paul Hibbitts

Followed Paul Hibbitts (Hibbitts Design)
Exploring and Building Open [Source] Software for Learning Ecosystems

Educator and interaction designer. Building #FOSS for distributed learning ecosystems/#DoOO/#OER. Using @getgrav + #CanvasLMS as open & collaborative platform.🚀

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🔖 PressForward in the classroom

Bookmarked PressForward in the classroom (pressforward.org)
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.

An interesting use case for PressForward: creating a “planet” website to aggregate and/or showcase work of students in an entire classroom who are all posting content to their own separate web spaces.

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?

Cartoon diagram with a funnel collecting content from sites like YouTube, WordPress, Drupal, Blogger, RSS being aggregated into a single computer-based website.
Diagram of PressForward functionality as a content hub or “planet” courtesy of PressForward.org
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📅 Domain of One’s Own Workshop for Admins

RSVPed Might be attending Domain of One's Own Workshop for Admins
After hearing from a number of schools running Domain of One’s Own, we thought it might be useful to host an in-person workshop that focuses specifically on implementing this project on your campus. Workshop of One’s Own is a two-day, geared towards the instructional technologist who assists with managing DoOO on an administrator level, but also focuses on project conceptualization, instructional uses, and empowering their community from a teaching/learning standpoint. You’ll not only be receiving the in-person, focused attention from the entire Reclaim Hosting team, but you’ll also get a chance to brainstorm with folks from other schools who are running their own Domain of One’s Own projects. We’ll work through common troubleshooting tips, SPLOTs with Alan Levine, cPanel application case studies, and more.

I’m almost painfully tempted to attend this workshop on March 15-16 with the idea of and setting up a side business to specialize in hosting WordPress and Known sites for IndieWeb use. While it could be a generic non-institutional instance for academics, researchers, post docs, graduate and undergraduate students who don’t have a “home” DoOO service, it could also be a potential landing pad for those leaving other DoOO projects upon graduation or moving. Naturally I wouldn’t turn down individuals who wanted specific IndieWeb capable personal websites either.

Either way it’s an itch (at an almost poison ivy level) that I’ve been having for a long time, but haven’t written down until now. It would certainly be an interesting platform for continuing to evangelize the overlap of IndieWeb and Educational applications on the internet.

I think there are almost enough IndieWeb friendly WordPress themes to make it a worthwhile idea to have a multi-site WordPress install that has a handful of microformats performant themes in conjunction with tools like webmentions and micropub that allows easy interaction with most of the major social silos.

I think the community might almost be ready for such a platform that would allow an integrated turnkey IndieWeb experience. (Though I’d still want to offer some type of integrated feed reader experience bundled in with it.) Perhaps I could model it a little bit after edublogs and micro.blog?

Who wants to help goad me into it?

 
h/t:

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