As Bud (the great Harry Dean Stanton) notes after snorting a long line of speed in Repo Man (1984), “Not many people have a code to live by anymore.” I couldn’t agree with him more, and this seems particularly true in edtech where we seem to spend far too much time and energy searching for technological salvation through analytics, data, and scale. The closest thing to a code most “innovators” cannibalizing edtech proffer are hollow notions of disruption.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the Repo Code ever since Tim and I were talking the other day about our vision for the future. As we double-down on our commitment to Reclaim Hosting, we have to make one thing entirely clear: we are NOT EDUPRENEURS. If you label us as such, we will be offended. This word suggests we are trying to disrupt educational institutions. We are not, we are trying to support those who want to do cool things within them. That horrible word also suggests we are sitting on some big idea waiting for angel funding or VC investment. This is not the case, we WILL NOT be taking any VC funding from anyone for two reasons: a) VC funding is the devil’s work, and b) we have a viable business model based on a trailing edge technology called web hosting.
What’s more, how we have built our business over the last two years is simple: we have kept our prices and overhead very low and provided exceptional service. This is not ground breaking, it’s just solid work. Work both Tim and I are really proud of. We’re an independent hosting label focused on supporting education, but open to any and everyone. The notion of independence is very important to us because it means we are not beholden to any other interests but our own. I like to believe we are part of what I hope becomes a broader movement of independent edtech, “green spaces” for exploration, experimentation, and collaboration. We need to Reclaim Innovation from the corporate disruptors.
SO, Tim and I have come up with you might call a Reclaim C.O.D.E. to quickly delineate what we believe and why we are doing this.
Community: First and foremost, Reclaim was made possible by the various and variegated people in our community. Reclaim Hosting is part of a long history of experiments and collaborations: ds106, Hippie Hosting, Domain of One’s Own, etc. Many of the people who use and trust Reclaim Hosting are the same ones who helped us build it. Moving forward it only seems natural that these are the same people that will join Reclaim in more official capacities as we grow. We will hire from within!!!
Openness: Tough term, it’s taken a beating as of late for good reason: over used, under delivered. For us openness remains what it has always been. Share everything we do openly and freely. We will share all our work/code openly on the web. Our model is not some secret sauce code base, it’s support and development to people who want to experiment with teaching and learning on the open web. The more we share it, the better it is for everyone, especially the people we work with! [One of the under appreciated laws of blogging.]
Decency: Unfortunately web hosting is an industry over-run with fear-mongering and bullying that is built into the very fabric of the business. Just take a look at Godaddy or Network Solutions, it’s awful. We’ve done a lot to make the process easier, more decent, and honest (and we still have much more to do to make it even better). We won’t prey on people’s fear of getting hacked or manipulate their lack of understanding how certain things work. When you work with Reclaim Hosting, you will be treated with decency and honesty.
Education: Our strength is education. Not simply because we have worked in higher ed for decades, but also because the mission behind Reclaim Hosting is to try and educate as many people as possible about how the web works. Ask any of the more than 700+ folks who have submitted a ticket at Reclaim Hosting how that’s worked for them. We spend time showing folks how to use this space to create something on the web. Reclaim Hosting is a community for educators to explore the web for teaching and learning, and it may be the best thing to happen to higher ed since ds106 🙂
That’s the C.O.D.E. for us. We have a strong value system we operate from, so you’ve been warned. What’s more, we’re not necessarily consultants. People ask us to consult, and we have and can. But I associate consulting with parachuting in and out telling folks what they need. That’s not us, we have an ongoing relationship with folks once the come to work with Reclaim. Out core business model is built on providing web infrastructure for learning from the individual to the course to an entire institution. We partner with all of them to suggest how to use it most effectively. But not one and run, but, rather, over time. It’s a relationship, it’s part of a broader community of independent edtech. That’s what we do, and it’s pretty amazing.