Two Years of Reclaim Hosting

Two years ago my partner Tim Owens and I rushed down to the Fredericksburg county clerk and gave birth to the two-headed monstrosity that is Reclaim Hosting. I didn’t realize at the time how momentous that would prove 24 short months later. Tim has been full-time for over six months. We hired our first employee, Lauren Brumfield, last month. And I’m going full-time myself, which will allow my family and I to setup shop in Italy for at least a year. All of this made possible by the awesome folks around higher ed and beyond that continue to support the work we are doing. I couldn’t be more excited about where we are right now.


All Hail the great Michael Branson Smith!

Last year at this time we had two institutions locked into a Domain of One’s Own project, and two others considering it. This year? We setup up four institutions just this week! And we will have at least 20 schools running a Domain of One’s Own initiative come fall. I’ve been in a bit of a zone the last month or so trying to wrap my head around the Reclaim Hosting infrastructure. I went through the entire process of getting an institution up and running on their own server with only minimal help. Tim has not only carried the load, but he has also architected a pretty amazing experience for schools. Feels good to finally be able to help him out some so he can get back to R&D.

One of the things we’re offering that has me really excited is sane and accessible server/sysadmin support—something that proved invaluable for me when starting at UMW. While I was still getting my head around domains, web hosting, WordPress, etc., I leaned heavily on my friend Zach Davis. I went to that font of knowledge countless times while setting up UMW Blogs. Zach understands servers, web hosting, programming, open source applications, and more. He got me into all this, and he was always very liberal and gracious with his time getting me out of trouble. But, astonishingly enough, ostensibly few ed-tech and digital humanities outfits in higher ed have this kind of support. And none of them have Tim Owens! Reclaim Hosting is all about providing infrastructure and support for those schools that can’t get it locally. And we are doing it at insanely affordable rates. That’s something we pride ourselves on—we want our work to be as accessible to as many people as possible.


Thanks D’Arcy Norman!

The other thing I am excited about is re-thinking hosting in terms of a personalized dashboard for managing one’s digital life bits across time and space. We want to try and re-architect hosting to be both abstracted and deeply personal at once. We’re continuing to chase the vision that has fueled UMW Blogs, ds106, and Domain of One’s Own for years—but we might actually have the people and resources to truly start to build the digital future we want to live in! Happy birthday, Reclaim Hosting. I am a very big Finn fan!


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One Response to Two Years of Reclaim Hosting

  1. GNA says:

    #FREEDOM in work, life, love. I’m so grateful to call you and Tim, and your families mine. Godspeed my brother. A (piece of) toast to you and Tim for leading the way toward increased understanding that the Web is ours to make break create great.

    Props, respect, and love. All ways love.


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