As part of his work in introducing Domain of One’s Own at Ontario Extend, Alan Levine posted the questions that I answer below. I haven’t been blogging enough recently, so I thought this was a good chance to document some of my own DoOO thoughts and kickstart my writing.
What is your domain name and what is the story, meaning behind your choice of that as a name?
My domain name is https://johnastewart.org. From front to back, the difference between https and http is a security certificate. Our partners at Reclaim Hosting make it dead easy to get an SSL certificate, and I think all of the internet search engines are going to increasingly favor sites with security certificates over the next few years.
My domain name itself is just my name. John Stewart is an incredibly common name, so I threw in my middle initial for some small degree of disambiguation.
I chose .org rather than .com because of their historical significance. Originally, .com meant that you were visiting a commercial website, and .org signified a non-profit organizational site. I work for a university, and when I set up my site, I was an adjunct lecturer, which is about as non-profit as it gets. I still advocate open pedagogy, OER, open note-taking, open coding, and a general distrust of capitalism, so I think it fits.
What was your understanding, experience with domains before you got one? Where were you publishing online before having one of your own?
I had been trying to set up a couple of .php based websites for a few years before I started this domain. Early in my grad career, I tried to start an online, open journal for publishing work by graduate students studying the History of Science. At the time, my university only offered 5MB of webspace and only supported HTML in that space. Eventually, I registered both that journal and a separate Digital Humanities project (situatingchemistry.org) with a corporate web host.
In 2013, the University of Oklahoma launched the pilot for OU Create, a Domain of One’s Own initiative. I went to the initial pitch by Jim Groom and Adam Croom, and was user number #13 with this domain.
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?
I really wanted to be able to run modern CMS apps, particularly Drupal. Both my Situating Chemistry site and the Open Journal System I built are built on Drupal and require a LAMP environment. With this site, I wanted to start blogging – or thinking out loud as Laura Gogia and others in the DoOO community call(ed) it.
What kinds of sites have you set up one your domain since then? How are you using them? Please share URLs!
I’m currently the project manager for OU Create. We have about 5000 users and 6000 websites, so I feel like all of them are part of my current work on domains. You can see recent posts on our Feed WordPress site, community.oucreate.com/activity and you can get a sense of what type of sites people are using at community.oucreate.com/sites.
I have about 30 sites up and running on my domain. Most are demonstration sites that I use when introducing DoOO to either classes or faculty development groups. My larger projects include the Situating Chemistry site and subdomains like my Wiki faculty development workshop: flc.johnastewart.org. I also have designed sites for faculty projects on the history of education in Oklahoma (docnarr.oucreate.com):
What helped you or would have helped you more when you started using your domain? What do you still struggle with?
I really like sites like cog.dog. I think these simple sites built in HTML are faster and more elegant than most WordPress based sites. If I had to do it over again, I’d build my main site using an HTML5up.net landing page with lots of other projects in subdomains.
What kind of future plans to you have for your domain?
I think I will probably do what I said above. I think I can move the blog feed into a subdirectory (johnastewart.org/blog), leave all the posts where they are, and create a space for a nice landing site.
For OU Create more broadly, we are playing with what DoOO v2 looks like. We are trying to figure out how to help people get into the apps they want to use more quickly, how to support non-SQL based systems (MongoDB, node.js, etc), and how to keep costs as low as 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?
My usual pitch centers on the superabundance of information available to us now. When I start a research project or try to figure out some new system, I search the internet. There’s a cornucopia of resources, so I generally find a ton of great information, and I quickly start working through my project. If you’re not on the internet, if you don’t have a website, there’s a roughly 0% chance I will come across your work. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written 5 books and 20 great articles, if you and they are not online, I’m not going out of my way to find them. But if I come across one of your articles, and I can look you up and find your other work, I will do a deep dive into everything you’ve ever said. Your discoverability as a teacher is also vital to attracting grad students who want to know what you’re researching.