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, but never gets written. As J. Hillis Miller explains:

As we read we compose, without thinking about it, a kind of running commentary or marginal jotting that adds more words to the words on the page. There is always already writing as the accompaniment to reading.

It was also inspired by a friend, Fiona Hardy, and her blog Read, Watch, Listen. My first incarnation was on Blogger, where I had to use Reading Writing Responding. Although I liked the active nature of this, it was just too long.

I also had a little help from some friends as a part of the Connected Courses MOOC:

What was your understanding, experience with domains before you got one? Where were you publishing online before having one of your own?

My move from Blogger was initially about finding a place of my own. I saw a domain as being an opportunity to renovate and stick up posters without the landlord coming through for inspection. The wider ramifications for having a domain had not even crossed my mind. Not only could I have a space of my own, but in fact have infinite spaces, each with their own purpose.

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?

Initially my attention was my primary site. However, my interest in (sub) domains was piqued as I opened the door to the #IndieWeb and the idea of POSSE. I setup an instance of Known and started using it for posting images to Flickr. This is one of the ways I have found self-hosted different from or Blogger. Although you can add a domain to both platforms, when it is your own space, there is so much more you can do with it.

What kinds of sites have you set up one your domain since then? How are you using them? Please share URLs!

Beyond my main space, I have created a number of sites for various purposes. They have included:

  • Aaron Davis – Built on Alan Levine’s Big Picture theme, I designed this space as a landing page for my presence on the web. My own version of an page.
  • Read Write Wikity – Built on Mike Caulfield’s Wikity theme/platform, this space was about developing knowledge over time. It is an extension on social bookmarking.
  • #WhatIf – Interested in the possibilities and potential of Known, I started a short blog to record ‘What Ifs’. This is partly influenced by Amy Burvall’s #rawthoughts and Ian O’Byrne’s own short blog IMHO.
  • Read Write Curate – A Known site developed in my exploration of POSSE.

More recently I have made some effort to condense some of these spaces into a secondary site, Read Write Collect. In part this stemmed from my interest inreclaiming the presence on the web. One of the limitations is that webmentions can only be attached to so many sites, so that is why I moved much of my content into two spaces.

What helped you or would have helped you more when you started using your domain? What do you still struggle with?

What has helped me is having continual support from Reclaim Hosting. Not only do they help in resolving most of my technical issues, but they also have a wealth of resources too. If there is something that I still need to work on it is archiving some of my older sites as static HTML, as well as sharing resources across my sites.

What kind of future plans to you have for your domain?

I am sure there will be cases for spinning up a new domain to test a new application and/or theme. For example, I am interested in PressForward as a means of organising research if I ever went further with my studies. Overall though, I am pretty happy with how things are at the moment.

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?

It is easy to create a or Edublogs site and add in your own URL. This will often alleviate concerns around updates and security. However, the effort required in maintaining your own space seems a small price to pay for the power and possibility it can provide.

It feels like every time I tell my story I add something different. I am sure that there are parts I have left out or failed to elaborate. If this is the case, feel free to leave a question or a webmention. The conversation only starts here.

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Read Write Interview – Telling the Story of My Domain by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

6 thoughts on “Read Write Interview – Telling the Story of My Domain

  1. Last week I posted some “interview” questions for educators who have their own self-hosted domain; here are a few first responses.
    My idea for doing this is to give some wisdom of others who have gone down this road to our participants in the Ontario Extend project supported by eCampus Ontario.
    These participants working towards their collection of module badges, and more generally looking to network with other Ontario educators, are blogging their work. And we are aggregating posts in our own blog hub. Many are getting their blogging chops going with free, hosted blogs, but we have available for, those ready for it, the chance to have two years of hosting their own domain, all provided by eCampus Ontario.
    Still the question is, beyond the what, but why? So in the response bin:

    Prompted by NewGroom @cogdog, I have interviewed my domain on behalf of faculty @ontarioextend. I look forward to hearing from you all up north! #whydomain #ds106
    — Sandy Brown Jensen (@sandramardene) June 8, 2018

    Sandy Brown Jensen ( is an artist, storyteller, long time community college teacher in Oregon, and ds106 participant. In her domain interview, Sandy gives a why

    One thing I have noticed is that a lot of people in the wide circles of my acquaintances and life activities Google me, and when they do, I want them to land on a blog of my latest creative work, which is a different motivation for keeping it up than just garnering comments. It is my online reputation and resume, and it works for me in surprising ways.

    as well as a poetic rationale

    Having your own domain needs to spring from your own desires: as a way to talk back to the world; as a way to talk to yourself while allowing others to listen in; as a way to document your passage through this all-too-brief passage of light that is your life.

    Thanks Sandy! Through connections, Sandy and I have become friends, and we have visited each other’s homes.
    From Scotland, primary school educator John Johnston ( titles his response A Kingdom of One’s Own.

    @ontarioextend @cogdog #whydomain
    — john johnston (@johnjohnston) June 9, 2018

    I got to know John too through DS106, and his clever inventions, experiments, and playfulness with media has been my fortune to know. On a trip a few years ago to Scotland, I got to sit in John’s kitchen and geek out in person.
    Like many, John did start out on free services (blogger) but eventually hot his own domain. His urge to consider domains rings to his nature as a real Experimenter

    I like the idea of my own space more than a domain. I like futzing. It is important, to me, to have one place. Sites in silos, or aol, or tilde spaces are fine playgrounds.but services go away. The domain is just an address pointing to my messy kingdom where I can do what I want, if I can.
    I find great value in having my blog go back for years. I search it often. If I’d trusted a silo my content might have vanished by now.
    Ideally everyone would get a domain automatically. Obviously this would make for a lot of domains.

    Colin Madland ( educator and technologist in British Columbia also answered the call for responses.

    A little history of my domains for #whydomain @cogdog @ontarioextend
    — Colin Madland (@colinmadland) June 9, 2018

    I guess these are all people I know, as I got to meet and work with Colin in 2014 when I had a fellowship at Thompson Rivers University.
    Colin has two domains and a collection of sites with in. His reasoning for having a domain includes:

    I appreciate the freedom and flexibility of having control over my domain. I have learned a tremendous amount from making mistakes and having to troubleshoot through them to come to a resolution. The experience of trying to export my old blog from Blogger was a little ridiculous, and it is nice to know that I could pick up and go with relative ease with my current setup.
    In order to succeed and persist, new domain owners will need an active community around them that is willing to be open and generous with their experience and their difficulties.

    Aaron Davis (, k-12 educator in Melbourne Australia, is someone who I’ve crossed paths with many places online. I got to meet him in person last November when I visited Melbourne.

    NEW POST: Read Write Interview – Telling the Story of My Domain cc @ontarioextend #whydomain #IndieWeb
    — Aaron Davis ?? (@mrkrndvs) June 11, 2018

    Aaron is very much a technical experimenter and is very interested in affordances of this thing called the IndieWeb. He was very much influenced by a network of educators, and made a leap from Blogger to his own domain:

    In part, my domain name comes from my interest in the notion of marginalia, the stuff that we write, but never gets written. As J. Hillis Miller explains:
    “As we read we compose, without thinking about it, a kind of running commentary or marginal jotting that adds more words to the words on the page. There is always already writing as the accompaniment to reading.”

    And also, I added my own response, as I believe in doing the very thing I ask others to do.
    Pretty much you can see that people who have responded so far are ones from my learning network, and that alone says a lot about cultivating a thing. And there is irony, that every one who responded is someone who these online connections led to in person meeting, and friendship as well.
    Chris Aldrich ( has a domain name I love, one with a story involving Muppets, one that makes you curious.
    And now we get into the category of People I Know Online and Have Yet to Meet.

    The Story of My Domain@ontarioextend #whydomain #DoOO #edtech #IndieWeb
    — Chris Aldrich (@ChrisAldrich) June 13, 2018

    Thanks for your interview responses, Clark.
    Chris is an active advocate and practitioner of the Indie Web movement, like just that selecting this chunk of text in his post, offers not only a means to annotate it with but also a url to deep link to the selection:

    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.

    I can totally nod in agreement with the metaphor of Commonplace Book:

    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.

    And I must just end up wholesale quoting Clark’s post:

    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?

    The Story of My Domain

    That last part is not strictly related to domain, but there is a connection.
    I’d love to hear more! If you are participating in Ontario Extend and your blog is connected to our hub just post with a tag of whydomain and the magic of tags will add it to our collection. If you are from elsewhere, please tweet to @ontarioextend with a #whydomain hash tag (see responses).
    I’d sure love to hear more stories, especially from people I don’t know.
    And for closing, I reference a post Aaron linked to, from API Evangelist Kin Lane ( about Many Perspectives On Internet Domains

    Many folks have no idea what a domain is. That they type them in regularly in their browsers, click on them, let alone that you can buy and own your own domain. This illiteracy actually plays into the hands of tech entrepreneurs, and each wave of capitalists who are investing in them–they do not want you knowing the details of each domain, who is behind them, and they want to make sure you are always operating on someone else’s domain. It is how they will own, aggregate, and monetize your bits, always being the first to extract any value from what you do online, and via your mobile phones.

    I am captivated by this version of our online world that is unfolding around us. What worries me is the lack of understanding about how it works and some awareness of where they are all operating when online. People don’t seem concerned with knowing what is safe, what is not. What worries me the most is that number of people who don’t even have the concept of a domain, domain ownership, and any sense of separation between sites online. After that, the misuse, misinformation, and obfuscation of the digital world by people operating in the shadows and benefitting from ad revenue. I know many folks who would argue that we need to create safe spaces (domains) like Facebook where people can operate, but I feel pretty strongly that this is an Internet discussion, and not merely a platform one.

    Featured image: Many-Perspectives-on-Internet-Domains-Kin-Lane.jpg by Aaron Davis used as his blogged response to the interview questions

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