Back in the Burg

I’ve been back in the Burg for the last 10 days working from Reclaim’s HQ on a range of stuff. As a result the bava has been a bit quiet given the push to get as much done as possible in a relatively short time frame. I’ve been able to get some of my stuff out of storage on the first day of my return, which has been on focus of the trip. I’ve been going through boxes of toys, books, movies, and more which is always a fun past time for me. I’m figuring out how to get my stuff overseas in the next month os so, but until then I am using CoWork’s unclaimed spaces as a temporary waylay station. 

This rip-up brought to you by Civic TV

Paint it Black

We have also been working quite diligently on making Reclaim Video a reality, which has been quite a blast. I’ll post more on that soon, but we did a pretty intense carpet and tile rip as well as began painting the store, which Lauren blogged about earlier today. Watching the space come together has been a dream come true—I’ve pretty much wanted to run a VHS store since I was a pre-teen, so this is pretty exciting.

Pioneer DVL-700

I have also been doing some shopping for VHS tapes, laserdiscs, game consoles, and more. I went to Fat Kat Records 20 minutes south of here in Ladysmith and picked up a ton of mint laserdiscs as well as a mint Pioneer DVL700. I even tested it out with a showing of Red Dawn …. WOLVERINES!

Red Dawn Title

2018/365/042: When the Mongols could see each other they had worked themselves up into a pretty good frenzy.

I’ve also been a regular at the Library of Congress’s Packard Campus in Culpepper, VA, which has been amazing. I got to see Sense and Sensibility, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Last Picture Show, and Lawrence of Arabia , all of them in glorious 35mm. I even missed a few gems like Guess Who’s coming to Dinner, A River Runs Through It, and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen—world enough and time!

Packard Campus February Program

But that’s alright, there’s always March!

Packard Campus March Schedule

I was a little sad to learn that Culpepper’s 1938 State Theater had closed after only being re-opened for two years. There was a major funding drive to get investors help refurbish and re-open Culpepper’s movie house at the tune of $13 million dollars, It was an impressive remodeling to restore it to its original glory. I had the good fortune to see Independence Day there in 2014. But that was then, since it has gone defunct and just a few weeks ago it was auctioned to the highest bidder for $700,000.

I was also able to rekindle my ds106 roots with a quick stop by UMW yesterday to record a  video for The End 106 with the great Martha Burtis. She’s a genius.

 And later that afternoon I actually got back in the classroom after a long hiatus to talk to to an awesome group of students in Eddie Maloney’s graduate course Technology Innovation by Design, which is part of Georgetown’s new Masters program in Learning and Design. It was a thrill to talk to student who want to think critically about the future of educational design, and I’ll write more about my approach in a follow-up post. I do miss the classroom, it is always a lot of fun for me—but damn I tend to talk a lot.

Anyway, if nothing else, this post serves as a roadmap for all the posts I need to write after taking a bit of a hiatus from the blog in order to dig in a bit while here in the US. it’s been quite nice to work alongside Meredith, Lauren, and Tim in CoWork—it’s been a welcome change to reconnect in person with the awesome crew that makes Reclaim so damn good.

Painting the office & Reclaim Video

This past weekend, the team came together to get some painting done in CoWork and Reclaim Video. (What is CoWork? // What is Reclaim Video?) We made a lot of progress, so I thought I’d share that through photos here!

^Color for two of the walls in Reclaim Video. This shade is inspired from VHS covers that we’ve found similar to this one.

^And the painting begins!!

^Progress…

^We also decided to give the bathrooms in CoWork a quick facelift by painting one of the walls our signature CoWork Orange.

^This made a huge difference. Now all we need is some art in that great big space!

^We made a ton of progress in Reclaim Video as well. Gray on two sides, black on the other. Just wait until you see what we have planned for the top strips. ;) But I’ll give you a hint…

reclaimvideo.com

 

P.s. if you’d like to see the progress happening in real time, I invite you to follow along on instagram: @coworkfxbg & @reclaimvideo.
P.p.s. if you want to see how Reclaim Video originally looked, click here.

Reclaim Video Artwork

If you’re not already familiar with Reclaim Video, I suggest giving Jim’s post a read. But in short, we’ve decided to turn a storefront adjacent to our Reclaim office into a fully operational 80’s-style VHS store. We’ve already begun collecting tapes & VHS players, and have already broke ground on renovating the space:

That’s all good and well, but why? Aside from making Jim’s fantasy a reality, we’re actually using Reclaim Video as Reclaim Hosting’s first *official* marketing campaign. I’ll save details about this for future posts, but will go ahead and note that we’re planning on using VHS tapes to get the word out about Domain of One’s Own. It’s gonna be fun.

So in an effort to move towards this next chapter, we also felt that a natural next step for Reclaim would also be to update the artwork on our website; to “modernize” from a record label storefront to (you guessed it) an 80’s VHS storefront. Video killed the radio star, right?

While the actual campaign, website, and VHS storefront will stay very true to the 80’s aesthetic, we wanted reclaimhosting.com to embody these changes while still bringing about familiarity for our existing customers. We reached out to Bryan Mathers, the awesome fellow who created our existing artwork, about our ideas.

Our visual thinking session (i.e. 2 hours of us brainstorming while Bryan drew our thoughts) was insanely helpful. We were able to nail down our goals for the future & our plan for achieving them, all the while paying tribute to the individuals, organizations, and institutions who have helped us get to where we are today. We talked about building capacity, both internally and externally, but making sure this is done the right way. To stay familiar as we grow. Using the storefront metaphor: even though the “start-up” mentality seems fleeting, Reclaim will always and forever embody the idea of a local store that anyone can walk into, ask questions, speak to a knowledgeable human being, and receive quick support. As we grow, we will grow out, not up. Reclaim will never be a large, 20-story corporate building that offloads support to a third-party company across the globe. Reclaim will, instead, have several small mom & pop shops that will provide you with the same service as that original record label store.

Enter new artwork:

Logo

^You can see the similarities, right? Same font, color scheme, and even the same record squiggles. It looks like the record logo has been cut in half to make way for the VHS tape, and I love that.

Logo with Tagline

^Same feel but adds a tagline & switches out the colors.

Website Header

^LOVE this piece. We’ve still got our record albums, but this time instead of those having the application names, they now have some of our shared hosting server names, which just so happen to also be band names. We’ve also made room on the shelf for some VHS tapes, or popular tools in cPanel. Intermixed with those are a few DIY tapes, which I’m all about. Want to build your site on WordPress or Omeka? Or perhaps use your own HTML? Maybe watch a Zombies movie instead?

Up Close

^Here’s an up-close version so you can see titles a bit better. (Just now realizing that MediaWiki is one word, so we’ll get that fixed. :))

Which got us thinking…what if every domain was a VHS tape?

Blank Tape

^Tim had the brilliant idea to use this as part of our new splash page when someone signs up for a domain. Their newly registered domain could automatically generate on the tape when they refresh their page.

Interactive Video Tape Versions

To say the least, I’m thrilled with the work that Bryan has done so far. And I’m pumped for what’s to come! If you’ve got ’em, I would love to hear your thoughts on growth, metaphors, or art in the comment section below. And stay tuned for more artwork. :)

RH Youtube

After filming bits and pieces of Workshop of One’s Own, plus Reclaim Hosting’s upcoming marketing campaign, Reclaim Video, it has only seemed natural to revamp Reclaim’s Youtube Channel as well. You may remember seeing episodes from Tim’s Reclaim your Domain video series— it’s my hope that we’ll be bringing these back & adding to them over the next few months. I’d love a larger video presence in our community support documentation and DoOO admin documentation, so continuing this video series seems like the perfect place to start.

View GIF

Current Playlists:

+ Reclaim Your Domain: An introductory video series that walks you through all the steps of getting an account on Reclaim Hosting and immersing yourself in the tools available to build out your domain on the web.

+ Support Guides: An archive of support guides that will be embedded within our documentation.

+ Getting Started with WordPress: WordPress-specific support guides.

+ Workshop of One’s Own: Recorded talks from the Workshop of One’s Own event. We’re hoping these will look a little more advanced after our Spring ’18 workshop. :)

New Screencasts from the Support Playlist:

Installing Omeka S on Reclaim Hosting

Creating and Managing Subdomains on Reclaim Hosting

Latest from Workshop of One’s Own:

Overview of Domain of One’s Own Platform


Thoughts? I’d love to hear feature requests for new topics, tutorials & playlists. Write them in the comments below or shoot me an email!

An Italian Xtro


I saw Xtro in the theaters at the ripe age of 12, and it scarred me. It has  arguably one of the more disturbing horror scenes of that era and I recall it all too well. It was a strange cult classic that I have not returned to in decades. It was panned overall, in fact Roger Ebert was definitely not a fan:

Most exploitation movies are bad, but not necessarily painful to watch. They may be incompetent, they may be predictable, they may be badly acted or awkwardly directed, but at some level the filmmakers are enjoying themselves and at least trying to entertain an audience. Xtro is an exception, a completely depressing, nihilistic film, an exercise in sadness….It’s movies like this that give movies a bad name.

But it is one of those films that once you have seen it, you can’t unsee it. It was been near 35 years, and I am wondering if it may not be time to return to this film. The urge was brought on thanks to this Italian version on VHS I picked up this morning on Ebay. I dig the wild 80s cover art. I feel myself falling down a pretty deep hole with Reclaim Video, and I love it.

Reclaim Video

I’ve been on a bit of a blogging sabbatical the last month or so. It’s been nice to take a break, but at the same time I have never had more to write about between the Domains 17 conference (total blast), a cross-country trip on Route 66 to LA, the community work Tom Woodward has been developing with Reclaim, a position paper I’ve been procrastinating, and an impending trip to Melbourne, Australia in just over a week. Life moves pretty fast when you’re a Reclaimer.

I tried to capture as much of the UMW Blogs migration as possible in my previous post (a temporary breaking of the blog hiatus) for fear it would all be lost, but that’s always the fear with blogging. the more time that passes the less that gets blogged. Not always a bad thing for the two or three remaining readers given I make no pretensions towards quality here, this blog has always been about quantity. So taking a month-long blogging break wreaks havoc on the numbers. 

But let me get to the point of this post. Plainly speaking, I’m a fucking artist. I may be a successful businessman, the best edtech to ever grace that lowly field, and an emerging figure in the world of mountaineering—but in the end I’m a visionary. I see the future and the past at once and paint them in broad, digital strokes across virtualized media of all kinds. This isn’t an acquired skill really, you’re born with it. The question is how do I direct these gifts….and then it hit me like a diamond through the forehead:

Thanks to the Retro Wave 80s text generator

That’s right, an 80s-style Video Store! But not just any video store, one setup in a Fredericksburg strip mall storefront run remotely from the Italian Alps. In fact, the recent article in the Free Lance-Star featuring Reclaim Hostings bitchin new co-working space (penned by the ever-generous Lindley Estes) frames it best:

According to his blog, Groom is playing with the idea of converting an adjacent storefront into a video rental store—a 1980s-style store that will rent VHS tapes and VCRs called Reclaim Video. he plans to run it remotely from Italy.

Is that not the best quote ever? And here you were thinking I was joking about my genius, shame on you.  

#NOBODY. But let’s not stop there:

It’s part art installation, part interactive media.

“I like the idea of automating most everything, yet still being remotely present,” he said in the post. “I’m imagining it as an installation along the lines of the UMW Console, and I love the idea of having a bizarre presence in the space from 5,000 miles away.”

I love it when a post on this blog is quoted framing something I said fairly recently, but I have absolutely no recollection of it. Lindley doing her blog homework, love that!¹ On the other hand, the complete collapse of my memory is deeply concerning, thank God I still blog.

But the point of this post was to actually start thinking about the process and getting it going.  I will need to do some VHS tape shopping pretty quickly here, as well as looking for furnishings before I head back to Fredericksburg in October for the first round of renovations on the space. I’m not sure it will be up and running before the Spring of 2018, but in some ways that’s good because it gives me some time to collaborate with folks—which is always where the magic comes from.

Magic GIF

Talking with Mikhail Gershovich in early June I had a series of idea that I kinda remember, although it’s kinda hazy given given it was L.A. One thing for sure is I would love to collaborate with Michael Branson Smith and Ryan Seslow on the design of both the physical and virtual space for Reclaim Video. MBS wrote a post in early June about coding a VHS Cover Generator , that got me thinking Reclaim Video could be an online store of sorts as well. In fact, it could be a physical VHS store that you predominantly interact with online. Whether it be designing the VHS tape cover slips, or going online and deciding what plays on the physical TV in the space (or even change the channel), viewing the store/collection via video cameras, interacting with the Dr. Oblivion for video suggestions, etc. There would also be a space for folks to donate VHS tapes to the store, all of which feeds into a web-based searchable database that anyone can access. What’s more, each title would have its own space that folks can fill in details, comment on, share advice, recommendations, etc.

While the store would be remotely operated from Italy the majority of the time, it can remain open to the public by automating the locks at pre-defined hours. But when I’m in town (or even when I’m not), there would also be a running calendar of special events with various folks coming into town—kinda like guest clerks—that could highlight a series of films through online watching parties, live discussions, a podcast, arcade parties,² etc. It’s all pretty wide open, and Grant Potter already pointed me to some folks who are effectively doing this kind of thing from their living room.

So, I guess this is the first of many posts about the shaping and building of Reclaim Video.  And while I was writing this post I paused to grab the domain reclaimvideo.com given it is now officially on like Donkey Kong.

I would love ideas, comments, collaborators, etc., on this one.  Would folks be willing to buy a couple of their favorite VHS tapes on Ebay and ship them to Reclaim Video as a kind of contribution/archive of their 80s VHS memories? Or even bootleg contemporary tapes never made on VHS, and use MBS’s VHS art generator to create the boxes?  I know this is nostalgic, but I don’t give a shit about that, what I want to know is what would make it work for you?
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  1. In fact, a little bird told me Lindley may be leaving the Free Lance-Star soon for new career and educational ventures, and if that is true I would like to wish her all the best. She has always been so good to us at DTLT and now Reclaim Hosting, and I deeply appreciate all her awesomeness over the years—UMW’s own!
  2. I also want to start buying up old 80s stand-up arcade games and convert the back of Reclaim Video into an arcade, but more on that anon.
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