Over the past couple of years, I’ve been working on a slow rollout of one of DigLibArts’ larger projects, Whittier.Domains, our local version of Domain of One’s Own, originally an enterprise from University of Mary Washington. This initiative was started at Whittier College to allow students, faculty, staff, and campus organizations to register for domains and subdomains and build online identities and sites. Though Whittier.Domains is essentially a tool for building and hosting websites and building web presence, we’ve endeavored to make it much more than that.
Our goal is that Whittier.Domains will be:
- A tool that can be meaningfully incorporated into classroom practices and disciplinary programs to instill digital citizenship and literacy
- A tool for controlling ones online identity, content, and data
- A community of people, both online and off
- A home for digital projects
- A potential home for myriad institutional knowledge
- A digital space of your own
So, what is Whittier.Domains? It’s an ongoing project managed at Whittier College by DigLibArts staff (at the moment that’s me!) that offers free subdomain hosting and subsidized domain hosting with Reclaim Hosting, a web hosting service dedicated specifically to working with educators and institutions of higher learning. Formed by Jim Groom and Tim Owens, they have long advocated for the importance of owning your digital content and understanding how we participate in a larger digital ecosystem. They make it easy to do so as well, by offering user-friendly interfaces, one-click installation with dozens of free open-source applications, and the friendliest and most responsive support professionals I’ve ever worked with.
We know that there are many options for web hosting, but as an institution of higher learning, one that coheres around the Quaker principles of “respect, honesty, integrity, community, consensus, inclusivity, and accountability,” Whittier.Domains endeavors to be a space where all members of the Whittier College community—from students, to faculty, to staff—can grow into their whole selves, digital or otherwise, and to think about the potentials for the digital. As much as we may want to compartmentalize different parts of ourselves, having a space to develop and bring together a legible digital self is important. In working to do that, it’s important to come to understand that we have some control over how we present ourselves to the world.
As policies change the nature of the Internet, and our relationship to other people and entities on it, it becomes ever more important to have a space that doesn’t cater to corporate interests, scrape your data for advertisers, or surveils you without your consent. Whittier.Domains is meant to be an extension of our in-person material campus, the learning communities that it fosters, the relationships we form here, and the standards that we set. Whether it is the website begun in a class, then expanded by students who wanted to document sustainability efforts on campus, or the wiki project on Chinese Philosophy, or the student curating her work for a future in sports marketing, we want Whittier.Domains to represent the expansive diversity of Whittier College.
Perhaps most importantly, Whittier.Domains is a place to learn. You can play, and test, and come into your digital self. Like anything, this is a continual process, but now you can do it with the support of Reclaim Hosting and on-campus staff (Me! Come see me!).