Jim Groom’s experiment with Domain of One’s Own crosses my RSS feeds and Twitter stream regularly. I agree with the empowerment of students to create their own spaces on the web, but I find myself wondering if it is a good idea to set people free to create stuff on the Internet without first educating them about what they are doing, what the risks are, and how to mitigate for various risks? I don’t mean to discourage, but I also don’t think owning and managing one’s own domain is for everyone. Personally, I’m a rather tech savvy person, but I still have my system support person (my loving husband) to help me out. Even with the high priced help, we sometimes run into trouble.
In the seven years I’ve hosted my own domain, I’ve been hacked twice. I’m just a blogger and an open educator! None of my sites contain commercial information or anything that is of monetary value. My sites are also not particularly popular – sure I get 100 hits per day, which is pretty cool, but that doesn’t justify an attack. My point is, that this still happens. Before investing significant time and effort into creating your own space on the web, you might want to consider how it will be backed up, and how you will manage or mitigate an attack.
The tools are now available to make it relatively easy to deploy your own website / blog on your own domain. However, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. If you don’t have enough of a tech background to recover from a hack or a server crash, you might want to consider a managed host solution – where you have the support folks ready to help if (or when) you run into trouble.
Don’t get me wrong, Jim’s keynote at the MRI conference regarding a Domain of One’s Own, inspired me to have my students create websites or blogs. I think the message of ‘creating a space that you control’ is a good message. I just don’t think that you need to be ‘sys admin’ of your own site. Regardless of the topic, the ability to create and broadcast something on the web is a valuable skill to have. But, I do not recommend that my students host their own domains – not unless they are particularly tech savvy and are willing to take on that challenge. There are lots of great ways to get free space on the web. WordPress.com, Blogger.com, Wix.com are great examples. Students can learn the tools to create content on the web, and learn how to backup their own content someplace they control, they can even purchase their own domain name, without the need to host or manage their own domain.
I’m afraid that encouraging people to create and manage their own domains will lead to them getting burnt when something happens to those domains, because we failed to teach the essential skills behind system administration. And frankly, the learners in various fields don’t really care about system administration. They just want something that works – and they don’t want to worry about how to manage security or privacy. They don’t want to worry about how or where to backup and restore their information. Sometimes it just makes sense to leave the ‘sys admin’ of one’s domain up to the professionals.