Our focus at Reclaim Hosting throughout 2022 has been all about increased communication. And while I’ve mentioned this before on the bava, the Reclaim Roundup has in many ways been central to this push. It seems prosaic and not all that cutting-edge, I know, “We need a newsletter to collect and publish all the work we have been doing over the last month.” Welcome to 2012! That said, I think the process of regularly creating the newsletters has been transformative for us on several levels.
When the newsletter was floated as a 2022 todo list item at our annual get together in Nashville back in November, the idea was to consolidate our communications on a monthly basis for admins at the institutions we work with. It would focus on updates to infrastructure, PHP versions, pricing, as well as anything else we needed to announce, a very practical means to update folks beyond our blog—which it was not clear anyone was reading. But when we started the monthly newsletter in January a couple of things were starting to happen: we were building out Reclaim Edtech; more folks at Reclaim Hosting were blogging; we started hosting monthly community chats (more on that soon); and we were coordinating our documentation more strategically. This meant on top of the essential updates we needed to get out, we could also give folks an inside look at what we were thinking, what we were working on, and what we were documenting. The newsletter was not only a place to share news, but also a place to highlight the amazing work happening around Reclaim Hosting monthly, which in turn has fed that work with a potential audience/community. Which in turn feeds the work of blogging, documenting, sharing, and caring, it’s a virtuous cycle….
And that virtuous cycle really depends on a sense of community. I think the newsletter provided us a less amorphous ideas of people on the other side of our work. This became immediately apparent when Taylor Jadin started leading our monthly Community Chats that were not only well attended, but became an absolute highlight each and every month. We continued to build on ways for us to connect with the community more directly by creating Reclaim Edtech’s Discord community. This provided a focused space for us to work through our Reclaim Edtech offerings as well as build a sense of connection around various tools, ideas, projects, and more. Engaging a community is always faith in a seed of possibility, and in my experience it has not only been the fuel for ridiculous creativity and connection, but it has also been crucial to keeping everyone honest. I remain, in many ways, indebted to all the folks who have helped build so much of what we’re doing at Reclaim Hosting over the years, and remaining connected, responsive, and responsible to that community helps us focus on our….
On the surface the newsletter provides a space to communicate with folks who are using Reclaim for everything from shared hosting to managed hosting to Domain of One’s Own to Reclaim Cloud. But arguably the newsletter is just as much about remaining actual people on the other side of any of those products. Both the newsletter and Discord have been crucial to giving everyone at Reclaim a voice to highlight not only what they’re working on, but what they’re reading, and what they’re passionate about. Whether it’s Meredith’s Megadesk progress or Pilot’s meticulous construction of these monthly newsletters or Taylor’s tech streams, there is much to love. In this, I think the June newsletter was particularly powerful because it was as much about who we are and what we believe as it was about communicating important news and updates.
In fact, the inspiration for at least two of my more ruminating posts last month, “Is Edtech Dead?” and “Thinking about Edtech” were a result of Lauren Hanks asking me point blank, “What’s Reclaim’s response to Audrey Watters announcement about leaving edtech?” At first I thought we didn’t really need a response given I absolutely understand Audrey’s frustration with edtech; few have spilled more blood and ink trying to get others to actually look at what a shit show the field has become. But as Lauren posed the question I realized two things immediately: 1) Audrey is a bright star of critical hope for many coming up in the field, so her announced absence leaves a significant void; 2) Lauren highlights the fact that the folks working at Reclaim are committed, we believe in what we are doing. And despite venture capital often stealing the oxygen in the field, we believe our work matters and that’s why so many good people have stayed at Reclaim for so long (Lauren just celebrated her 7th anniversary and Meredith her 5th recently). We continue to intentionally build a culture of commitment that can push back against the relentless churn of press releases and acquisitions that serve no one but the folks pulling the strings. So, I slept on Lauren’s question about what Reclaim response might be, and rather than pretending to speak for the whole of Reclaim I spoke for me here on the bava, and I hope everyone at Reclaim does the same thing. I want to build a community around edtech that believes what we do and say matters, and that there is a real sense of responsibility and engagement with the work we’re doing that interfaces with the field of edtech more broadly. We’re small, we’re by all counts marginal, but we are also awesome and we have a community of awesome folks who believe that all is never lost and there’s work yet to be done.
So, happy independence day, here’s to indie-edtech and the dreams and aspirations of a community that refuses to become just another burnt-out shell of a good idea