Maybe the post title seems dramatic, but the last month has seen a pretty major shift at Reclaim Hosting. It’s funny, because in terms of evolution I think Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey seems fairly accurate in this instance, one day you are jumping around picking the fleas out of each others’ fur, and the next day you are cracking skulls with discarded animal bones! Well … maybe that’s not the point. What I’m trying to say is that change can happen quite fast and seemingly out of nowhere in the shape of a tall, black monolith that gives you new super powers to blog more because your aren’t knee-deep in the day-to-day.*
Just a few months ago Tim was running Infrastructure and managing Support and I was working Sales and various outreach programs like the beautiful OERxDomains21 conference and our Virtual Roadshow workshop alongside Lauren. Things were quite busy, add to that Reclaim Arcade opening and it was getting unmanageable.
In fact, early this Summer I took over support to give Tim some headspace, and it felt a bit like we were losing ground in terms of being able to think beyond the immediate issues of running Reclaim. After 8 years of doing a little bit of everything—Sales, Support, and Infrastructure (while also being the owner)—you start thinking you might never get off the hamster wheel of work. So in late June, early July we committed to hiring more folks to free up some time and energy for Tim and I, which would allow us to finally realize a long-time goal of putting Lauren Hanks in charge of operations. The trick was making sure she has the staff needed to succeed. We re-doubled hiring efforts in Sales and Infrastructure and by late August had commitments from two awesome folks who actually come from Domains programs at two of the schools we work with. [That is both wild and awesome at once.] Goutam Vijay Narang has already started in the role of Junior Web Developer and later this month Pilot Irwin will be joining us as account manager in Sales. Once the dust settles a bit, we will be hiring a part-time Support agent, and with that our company will be 10 strong and Lauren will have a running start in her new role as Director of Operations, which she will undoubtedly thrive at.
Lauren has been at Reclaim Hosting for over 6 years now, and she is nothing short of amazing. Running the daily operations of Reclaim Hosting was just a matter of time, she has proven her awesome over and over again, and I really can’t say enough about how valuable she has been to the very core of Reclaim’s culture, balancing intense work with a ton of good will and fun, fun, fun in equal portions. With Lauren taking on the role of Director of Operations the various groups will each have leads. Chris Blankenship will be leading infrastructure, taking over the day-to-day from Tim who has been overseeing since the beginning. Meredith will continue in her role as Support lead with a more public role of interfacing with our Domains and managed hosting clients as we try and further tighten the way in which Sales, Support, and Infrastructure communicate and integrate. It’s pretty exciting for Tim and I not only because we will have some headspace to think more broadly about Reclaim, but also because we have a whole new group running the show. They bring new ideas, new energy, and an unbelievable amount of talent to Reclaim and it is time they had space and independence to fully realize all that and more.
On a deeply personal level it really does feel like the beginning of a new era at Reclaim Hosting, and I am happy to say I am still a part of it. It’s apparent we are stable enough to stick around for a while, and making sure the great people you work with feel they can grow into their roles and have a larger say in where they work and how it functions is crucial to the overall health of Reclaim. That is one of the things that is harder and harder to manage in large organizations, and being able to see this shift at Reclaim and watch those who helped build it from the ground up decide where it goes is crucial to our future success, and for that this is the most important evolution in our short history yet.
The things I want to focus on now that I will have some new found headspace is blogging more and experimenting in Reclaim Cloud (which means some homework around containers and Docker). I also enjoy the outreach and “marketing” part of Reclaim, so I will be at the workshops and conferences, maybe running a karaoke session or two? I also like having a hand in imagining the Reclaim aesthetic, which is really just talking to Bryan Mathers about what we should do next—so maybe they’ll let me stick around for some of that 🙂
But more than anything I have the urge to teach again, which is a welcome surprise. After imagining a syllabus for a Digital Studies course on the fly that never materialized, and working with Paul Bond producing the Joy of ds106, I can officially say I am ready to get back in the classroom in some form or fashion. So if you know anyone interested in a visiting virtual professor who would treat the course as a digital production studio let me know because I want back in that game!
*Now here is where someone is going to explain to me why this is a bad analogy because I am misreading the film, but to that I must simply say get your own blog and tell it to the wind, dammit!