What’s in a (domain) name?

At the beginning of the semester, there was some discussion about the purchase of domains.  This has never been a concern of mine, first off I’m not going to lie, I’m still not sure I fully ‘get it’.

Secondly, when it comes to my kids, nutrition, and anything I’m passionate about – I will spend what I see as justified, but if it’s not something I am interested in and informed about- I’m cheap!

As I read Maggie’s Digital Content Farm by Audrey Watters, I started questioning: Who owns my stuff?  Why am I letting someone else own my stuff?

I needed more information.

Starting with Wikipedia (because where else does one go for reliable information),  to determine: “What is a domain name?”  The answer- it seems as though the a domain name simply boils down to: a purchaser finding a domain name that they would like (which is available), and choosing the suffix which is preferred/available with the name chosen. For example: http://www.myname.suffixthatworks  It’s essentially creating your own addreess. This name, once ‘purchased’ becomes your virtual property – you have control of what happens on your site at all times.

Considering the power and control that may come with ‘owning’ your own website, as well as how ‘restricting’ it is to be a member of a free site, the terms of service are the determining factors in what users are limited by/to.  Each free site has different parameters, and restrictions, there’s always a ‘deal’ made when you are getting a service for free.  The problem is that studies state it would take 76 work days to read through all of the terms and conditions we agree to!  If we aren’t taking the time to read through what we are agreeing to, we can absolutely lose pieces of our identity (among other things) as seen here.

When you ‘give up’ control on your blog/website/app (if you are using the free version), I am starting to feel as though it could be seen as ‘selling out‘ (the monetary gain simply being that you aren’t dishing out any money).  When you sign up for free services, you are bound by their terms and conditions, which really limit your identity pieces and flexibility online (after all, you need to fall within the parameters of the terms and conditions of the free account).

Moving beyond what free accounts don’t do for you, I wanted to learn what purchasing your own domain in fact does for you.  I found several articles that argue many important reason to purchase your own domain; including that our interactions and communications are changing and as we continue into our digital age, it is important that we are able to own and control our digital identities.  Another good read by Dan Gillmor discusses the importance of freeing ourselves from the corporations whenever possible.

So now, I think I ‘get’ why spending money to buy a domain name may be important.  That being said, I’ve come across many other questions that I have not had the chance to answer- such as: What is hosting, and why would I have to do (read: pay for) that?  Do I have a strong enough readership in my blog to make the purchase ‘worth’ it? How is my identity being controlled or farmed out currently?  Is the hold on my identity enough to make me want to buy a domain? And if so, am I tech savvy enough to move to this platform and maintain it?

I’m still not sure what I am going to do now that I am aware of all of this, but if reading this blog has caused you to want to move to your own domain space, here’s some more information to help ensure you are aware before you start buying!

If nothing else, I should remember it’s not about the money…





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