Special thanks to George Kroner for pointing me to the article “The Federated Web Should Be Easier Than It Sounds” which nicely frames some of the larger implications of taking control of your own domain:
If you had your own domain name and kept good backups you could move from host to host and even to entirely different blogging systems (though you might mess up your permalinks). E-mail can work the same way, if you use your own domain name instead of your host’s. These are what some people call “federated systems.”
I’m interested in plans to build federated versions of the internet, including “darknets” like Freenet, Crptosphere or wireless internet alternatives like Project Meshnet and the many many other project like it. But for those of us living in relatively free countries, just having an internet where everyone owns their own portable identity is good enough. Owning a domain name is a bit on the geeky side, but it’s not like asking people to learn to program or configure their own Linux servers. We can still rely on hosted services – as long as we can pack up and move out of them when the time comes.
This framework is important for me because part of thinking through a Domain of One’s Own at UMW has to be about architectures of empowerment for students and faculty alike. A long-view of our increasingly mediated realities that allows us to enable individual control over our digital artifacts. What is awesome about this project is it is at once architectural, technical, philosophical, and liberatory. I’m increasingly of the mindset that what’s happening at UMW with a Domain of One’s Own (all work born out of UMW Blogs and ds106) is yet another powerful and forward-thinking approach to federating the web and empowering our students and faculty who use it—which is all of them!