Why create your own space, domain, host? 

The pre-course orientation week for a new open course – Connected Courses. Active Co-Learning in Higher Ed, has started this week with the questions:

Why open learning? Why create your own space, domain, host? Why use your own tools? Why be a node on the web? Why is this important? What does connected learning mean?

One of the attractions of this course for me, apart from all the well recognised names that are running it, is the question ‘Why create your own space, domain, host?

I have been aware of the Reclaim Your Domain  discussions for quite a while, and have had a ‘should I/shouldn’t I?’ discussion with myself for about the same amount of time, always coming down on the ‘I shouldn’t’ side.

So it was good to discuss this further in the Twitter stream alongside the Google Hangout, last night. Here is the Google Hangout recording

and for the Twitter stream use the hash tag #ccourses. From the discussion it was clear that the support will be there if I decide to go down this route – which is great – but I have yet to be 100% convinced that it is worth the time and effort.

Although I am often technologically challenged, I am not completely clueless. I do have experience of creating a website, which I did a few years ago to accompany a 6 month stay on the island of Florianopolis in southern Brazil. I used 1&1 internet to host that website and Dreamweaver for writing the website. I took the website down a couple of years ago, as I didn’t want to continue paying for it, but the associated blog (hosted on Blogger), which I embedded into the website still exists – Retorno a Florianopolis

I have also recently created a GoDaddy account to host some development work we are doing in relation to our research into Emergent Learning and drawing footprints of emergence.  That GoDaddy site is not ready yet to be ‘open’.

From this limited experience I know that hosting your own website is a lot of work for someone like me (work that doesn’t fire up my interest) and so I was interested to read Rebecca Hogue’s post about her experience and the difficulties she encountered.

I have also listened, this morning, to Audrey Watters’ great keynote to the ALT Conference  where she made a very strong case for not allowing technology to become a monster, i.e. we should fully engage with the technologies we use and take responsibility, rather than allow technologies to take control of us. She has also written very persuasively about this in her blog post Reclaim your domain

But, for now, I remain unconvinced about the value of moving this blog (which I started in 2008) into a different space. What would I gain? It currently does everything I need it to do. I know it like the back of my hand – so I don’t have to think about the technology and can focus on the content. The blog itself is free, but I pay an annual fee to be able to embed videos and to stop adverts appearing on this blog.

On the other hand, I know how annoyed I was recently when Flickr (where I host my photos) decided to change the way it displays photos without so much as a ‘by your leave’ or giving Flickr users any choice, but I didn’t end up moving my photos. I remember that at the time, Alan Levine, who is one of the Connected Courses convenors, was not very sympathetic, thinking that if I took more control and got my own domain I wouldn’t get into this situation.

So, I’m still undecided about whether to move this blog and not ready to jump just yet. I think I would like to be clearer about what I stand to lose. I think I know what I stand to gain, but of course I appreciate that I can’t know what I don’t know, so I’m keeping an open mind and hoping to gain greater insight in this course.

5 thoughts on “Why create your own space, domain, host? 

  1. Lisa M. Lane (@LisaMLane) September 4, 2014 / 8:23 pm

    Hi Jenny! I’m not sure you need to start with the idea of moving your blog (that sounds huge). Rather, you could just set out to learn how to set up WordPress, which you already know well, on your own host. You may already have the space, if GoDaddy has provided you hosting, not just a domain name. WordPress.org has a five-minute install, and you’d learn how to set up a database, if you don’t already.

    So you could do it just to learn, and play with, this stuff. If it takes too long or gets frustrating, don’t bother. There’s no pressure. If it works, you then have an empty WordPress blog of your own, and you can export this and import it there, or not. I don’t like to spend much time in the back end of things either, but I like knowing what it looks like. Maybe it’s just a matter of “why not?”.

    (Either way, you’ve reminded me I should work on POT’s Creating Your Own Space page, to make it easier to follow!)

  2. jennymackness September 5, 2014 / 7:59 am

    Hi Lisa – thanks for your comment and for the link to your POT’s creating your own space page, which is helpful. I’ll let you know how I get on. Looking forward to your weeks at the end of the course 🙂

  3. ARTiFactor September 5, 2014 / 3:55 pm

    I have lost lots of my content over the years when blogging four different platforms pulled the plug. I started my http://artifactor.wordpress.com/ in 2005. It is still there although my pre-YouTube “Blip” embedded videos all died. I moved to self hosting now but I think WP and blogger are good choices for durable free hosting.

    Being able to export your content is important. For branding or digital identity, I think you can point a “domain of your own” to this blog. Not sure if you can pay something to get rid of the advertising.

  4. jennymackness September 5, 2014 / 5:53 pm

    Hi Art – thanks so much for your comment and sorry to hear that you lost your embedded videos.

    I am still thinking about all this. There are definitely things that annoy me about having my stuff hosted by an external provider, e.g. my annoyance with Flickr (I still hate the way Flickr photos are now presented).

    I have recently realised that many of the changes that are being made to sites like WordPress, Flickr and today I discovered a change to Feedly – are being made to make life easier for mobile users. l do have an iPhone – but only for convenience. I am not a phone person. I avoid it as much as I can. So it is irritating that changes are being made that affect my work online, in the name of mobile phones.

    But I can see that many, many people could not communicate/be networked without their mobiles and that developments have to be made to make their lives easier.

    So – I know that I could avoid this hassle if I got a domain of my own – but what other hassle would I have, particularly since I am a person who does not enjoy messing about with technology. I can think of loads of other things that I would rather do with my time – although, I know, from past experience, that I can do it if I put my mind to it – or at least do enough of it to get by.

    So the best suggestion for me so far has been to get a domain to play in. I might do that, although there is an associated cost – but its not huge.

    I don’t think I’ll be moving my WordPress blog any time soon.

    Thanks for your visit to my blog.


  5. Maha Bali September 6, 2014 / 8:30 pm

    hi Jenny, I haven’t been connected in the way you have for as long as you have, and I remember when I first met Jim Groom at #et4online I was asking why the whole reclaiming one’s domain is supposed to be self-evident? He’s got good answers to that, but I think the key thing is that the reasons have to make sense to YOU personally. You’re right about a lot of your reasons for staying with the hosted wordpress version.
    There are all sorts of other services that do interesting things without you reclaiming your domain – like Known and Brid.gy which pull together everything related to you on Twitter, facebook, etc., so all the content belongs to YOU rather than is distributed. Those two originated from the IndieWeb but have very strong Reclaim vibes (there is some sort of relationship between them all but it’s muddled in my head).
    Anyway, my point just is that different people at different stages have different needs.
    The only thing I can say is that using a self-hosted wordpress is really simple and has loads of plugin possibilities beyond the .com version. (I’m saying all this and have not watched the hangout yet btw) and that I made the move so that I could have a “fixed” place on the internet no matter what I decide to do with my blog (what if something better than wordpress comes along? People could still visit blog.mahabali.me rather than have to go to mahabali.newblog.com – you know?) – but that’s not as important for other people, so 🙂 And of course I would NOT wish upon myself what happened to Art!!! and Geocities (which Jim Groom talked about in his keynote at #et4online)

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