Well, it [the fallout from NSA’s spygate] exposes the vulnerability of centralized services like Google, Facebook and Yahoo. And in industries where privacy and personal information security matter, like education … the importance of a distributed permission-based system becomes increasingly important.

Stephen Downes’ review of Wired’s article “How the NSA Almost Killed the Internet” in today’s OL Daily points out why educational institutions should not be in bed with Google and/or Microsoft when it comes to cloud-based email, applications, etc. But more than that, it reinforces why the idea of giving students and faculty their own spaces on the web is less and less a fringe idea these days. In fact, it’s potentially motivating some educational institutions to move to the modern day version of the slashtildespace. In other words, something like umw.edu/~jgroom that gave folks restricted access to HTML can be easily upgraded to something like jimgroom.com that provides access to scores of applications, subdomains, databases, etc. This, in turn, helps return educational institutions to spaces that help reinforce the “importance of a distributed permission-based” network that serves as the basis for a community approach to broader discussions of digital literacies. UMW Domains is a lot more than eportfolios—but it’s that too.

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