Our primary task this week was to create a domain and WordPress blog on which to post during the course of HIST 696. Ultimately, it should help represent our academic selves to the greater world. If one is starting from scratch, this is incredibly easy to do. It is quite possible to stake out a personalized domain and install a WordPress site from your smart phone in less than ten minutes.
I previously had decided this was a fairly important task about 5 years ago and staked out petercarrjones.com via Godaddy. Since then, petercarrjones.com and blog aspirations were mostly forgotten. Save for a period where I tried to teach myself domains and DNS servers by hosting my resume at petercarrjones.info from my laptop computer. I forgot about this lesson until a few years later when an infosec friend incredulously asked “are you hosting a LIVE, UNSECURED web server from your C DRIVE?!” Apparently, that’s frowned upon.
Fortunately, the folks at Reclaim make it incredibly easy to host your own blog from THEIR server. Though I had my own registrar (Godaddy), I needed to transfer this domain over to Reclaim and foolishly didn’t “unlock” it. Tim Owens notified me of the problem before I even realized it existed and provided a handy Godaddy specific set of instructions to fix everything (amazing service!). It has one-click installing of a wide variety of software including WordPress and Omeka, among other EDU and DH friendly software. Following this awesomeness, I tweeted about it.
Speaking of Twitter, signing up for an account was another required task for this week. Fortunately, it was also a task which I thought to enact in circa 2009. This sounds like less work than having to register a new account, but I can assure the reader that going through 500+ tweets dating back for half a decade and policing for professionally inappropriate tweets is far more work. Yet it is just as essential a part of creating my public image as this weeks readings reinforced. Though it has taken several hours of searching my tweets and working on my blog’s appearance, these tasks pale in difficulty when compared to my attempts at reclaiming a domain or starting professionally on twitter. There were few helpful guides for academics in 2009 when I was starting. When re-reading my tweets, I saw many random replies to CHNM academics that I only chuckle at now.
Today I probably wouldn’t make jokes with a somewhat senior figure who I hadn’t personally met, but was happy to shout at any and all when I was just starting out.
While some of my tweets now seem a little embarrassing, my blog posts are non-existent because I was unable to scale the hurdles of loading a working WordPress website to a hosted domain. I remember spending hours trying to figure out what MySQL even did, let alone how to make it work for my blog. This is by way of saying that Jim Groom and Tim Owens of Reclaim are doing wonderful, meaningful work. I’m very excited that it is now a permanent venture and will be around for a long time to help students and academics “homestead” their claim on the web. No ~tilde accounts, writing PHP, or Geocities’ WYSIWYG required.