I said it many times Monday and Tuesday of this week that the Domains 2017 in Oklahoma City was not a conference but a gathering. Does that matter? You had to be there.

This is a vain attempt to blog summarize and will fail miserably in capturing the experience. But I am, at this moment, sitting at University of Oklahoma sitting next to Keegan Long-Wheeler who commanded us all to blog. As he is doing right now…

Keegan is blogging faster than me! This photo will eventually (tonight) go onto flickr shared under CC0

You could just start by the venue itself, the Hotel 21c is both a museum of interesting / weird art and a hotel.

There are talking holograms in the bathroom, intense portraits, weird dollhouses, and purple plastic penguins guests are invited to move around with.

If you go to a conference in some city like “Orlandaheim” expect this kind of hotel (quasi OKC joke) where Brian and Tim are glad they did not stay

Nice Conference Hotel

Nice Conference Hotel flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

Yes, it was more like a gathering of friends, good friends. Good smart friends. Doing cool stuff in domains of their own (or providing them to others).

One walk away is that clearly Domain of Ones Own is a long way from “just that thing that UMW does.” Tim Owens mentioned that Reclaim Hosting us supporting 50 institutions doing this, from big state universities to small liberal arts colleges to community colleges. The LMS-ification of edu is not complete.

A tone was set on the morning of the first day hearing the booming voice of the only Jim groom broadcasting to nobody on DS106 radio

Live in DS106 Radio

Live in DS106 Radio flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

One of the many brilliant touches was opening the conference not with a keynote, but the “record fair” two hours of open demos, and such a great way to meet people in smaller, informal settings, other than being sat in rigid rows of auditorium seats:

Among the Virtually Connecting sessions at Domains 2107 we tried a “roaming” session during the record fair:

Adam Croom and colleagues from University of Oklahoma really set it up for us, the friendly Oklahoma welcoming, encouraging / challenging us to meet people we did not know and attend sessions we likely might not choose.

And NOBODY introduces sessions with more smack and love at the same time as Jim Groom

A Man and His Big Fans

A Man and His Big Fans flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

There was a keynote, one, by Martha Burtis… and it was amazzzzzing, and as she does in her insightful Martha way, got us thinking about doing more with domains than the pragmatic.

Thanks to Grant Potter and #ds106radio, there is an archive!

The Web seemed well. . .just there. Interesting, visually pleasing at times, weird, always expanding beyond measure, inscrutable, and a bit of an opiate of the masses. I mean, how could we take something seriously that had birthed lolcats?

Can any of us say that anymore? This powerful, relentless presence has been growing and changing for 20+ years — and it is changing us and our perceptions and our access to truth and our ability to make our world a better place to live in. And all along, we’re actually the ones who have been growing it and changing it, bit by bit, domain by domain, site by site, service by service. With what we build and what we share and what we sign up for and what we search.

The time came long ago for us to have a conversation in our schools and with our students about what this all means. If anything, I worry that it may be too late for this conversation.

And also poetic…

At my heart I guess I’m an eternal optimist. Because, honestly, these days I feel like if I don’t hold onto that optimism with a steel grip, my own spirit would begin to feel unreclaimable.

In her ever clever ways, Martha had announced up front that her full screen images had no literal connection to “slides” but maybe there was a connection. Images of labyrinths and fences and ruins and strange architecture. It was towards the end when she shared a video with clips extracted from one produced by UMW student Meredith about Domains, where UMW faculty, staff, students (and Audrey Watters) answered the maybe odd by insightful question, if the web was a concrete place, what might it me?

I highly encourage you to read her presentation notes / post on Neither Locked Out Nor Locked In

Oh, and Martha attracted all the penguins.

All the Penguins, all the Domains flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

And she also joined us after for a Virtually Connecting recap…

Okay, this post is monstrously long and I’ve not even gotten to the sessions. I CANT SUMMARIZE THIS EXPERIENCE IN ONE POST… and yet plunge on. It was fantastic to have several sessions that featured the voices and works of students, from Lora Taub’s projects at Muhlenburg College to Mary Kaylor’s game building students at UMW.

I could go on gushing too about the amazing Tom Woodward, who despite his protestations, must be a non-sleeping coding vampire. Tom shared brilliantly formally and informally with doing things that you would not think WordPress can do, on how he single handedly supports over 20,000 VCU blog, creating community sites at Georgetown.

So that light in the top photo is that after knowing it for a long time, I really have to knuckle myself down to do more experimenting and development with the WordPress API, with the idea of using WordPress as a data engine but not necessarily a display engine, with diving more deeply into the wild world of fast crazy javascript stuff.

Behind the Lens

Behind the Lens flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

If Tom is not super human enough, he also takes and shares amazing portrait photos. No he sleeps not. Vampire.

Another fortunate turn at the conference was getting to meet for the first time both Rob Reynolds and Stacy Zemke

I have known Rob going back to the 2000 and early single digit years via blogs first.

I guess I will get around to listing my sessions because… this is my blog.

I did a record demo fair session with Brian Lamb on that old but harmonious group, the SPLOTs “A Shotgun Marriage Smallest? Possible? Learning? Online? Tools?”

SPLOTS are the demented spawn of a shotgun marriage, between the drive to simplify open web expression and the refusal to require participant data

“A shotgun marriage”

I ad fun assembling his in the WordPress theme I made from an HTML5up template.

Oh and yes, this is how SPLOTs are made:

I also had a session on the stuff I have been living off of since the original DS106- RSS Syndication (Tom Woodward is telling me to kill it), The Daily _____, and the DS106 Assignment Bank.

I had a bit too much fun remxing album covers. And people even got my late 1970s SNL reference:

I very much enjoyed co-presenting (or more listening) with Tanya Dorey-Elias on “Small Design Steps Can Go A Long Way For Open Community Tools” (stuff is in an etherpad, I failed to make it editable).

I truly enjoy presenting someone who can bring to the room a useful metaphor, in this case.. snow boots, or Kamiks

Tanya and Kamiks

Tanya and Kamiks flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)


Among many things, the Domains 2017 gathering had what is missing from “conferences” a size where you can really meet and talk to people, good food, a non hotel non fluorescent lit venue, and really, a whole artistic and friendly aesthetic (the graphic mastery of Bryan Mathers, naturally)

You should be crying if you were not there.

But wipe your tears, and get yerself ready for Domains 2018.

It’s #notaconference.

Featured Image: Domains 2017 header image by Reclaim Hosting superimposed on Sunrise over Earth (12/61) photo by Qimono from Good Free Photos shared into the public domain using ????. Just to show you how messy licenses get, the link from Good Free Photos points to a license Creative Commons dis-recommends. But I cannot change the license to CC0. Look I see dead licenses! The source site credits a pixabay user but I got bored trying to find this image.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. When I can do something that interests you I feel pretty good.

    For the record, RSS needn’t die for JSON to live. I’m not all fanatical about it.

    JSON just feels really light to create with. I build more strange things because I can do it so easily. It helps me create the illusion of proficiency and enough doing may some day lead to competency.

    I am really trying to convince people they can do this stuff. I believed for a long time that it took some elevated level of ninja skills or a childhood commitment. That’s why I try to stress my own self-doubt. I don’t think it works (maybe it even makes it worse) but that’s why I try to articulate all this stuff.

    As always, loved getting a chance to talk to you. We’ll get a photowalk in next time.

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