Why ‘A Domain of One’s Own’ Matters

Audrey Watters summarises her thinking around Domain of One’sOwn. She discusses conerns around data, privacy and our knowledge of how the web works.

By providing students and staff with a domain, I think we can start to address this. Students and staff can start to see how digital technologies work – those that underpin the Web and elsewhere. They can think about how these technologies shape the formation of their understanding of the world – how knowledge is formed and shared; how identity is formed and expressed. They can engage with that original purpose of the Web – sharing information and collaborating on knowledge-building endeavors – by doing meaningful work online, in the public, with other scholars. That they have a space of their own online, along with the support and the tools to think about what that can look like. Why ‘A Domain of One’s Own’ Matters (For the Future of Knowledge)

What I think this idea really captures is our need to make the connections between the various elements of the web, whether it be APIs or coding, rather than always accepting the packaged applications that provide the easiest option.

2 responses on “Why ‘A Domain of One’s Own’ Matters”

  1. Introduction

    For this written piece, I have selected three topics, some
    of which I have discussed previously. I decided on these topics as they
    appealed to me most in terms of being informative and generally interesting. I
    will discuss my thoughts on the reading “A domain of One’s Own,” the
    documentary clip on “The Virtual Revolution” and the reading “Hypertext and Our
    Collective Destiny” in which Tim Berners-Lee discusses the web in 1995.

    A Domain of One’s Own

    Upon reading the piece on why “A domain of one’s own”
    matters, I too was in a similar position to those who critique the message. I
    didn’t truly understand the value of a website made by oneself, for oneself. As
    I began to delve further into the piece, I realised how important a private,
    personal space is. I now agree with the writer in that a “domain of one’s own”
    is somewhere one can feel at home, having a website customized to their liking.
    After creating my own site, I can agree that there is a feeling of safety involved
    as well as a way of expression. There is great freedom with this but also a
    sense of security which I believe to be a very important point. Images are
    easily uploaded, and integrated social media is a common occurrence nowadays.

    The idea of our personal data being “taken” (Berners
    Lee 2018) and the fact it is out of our control has been addressed quite often.
    I see eye to eye with the writer when she states this is something which should
    concern us all. I’m sure many of us are informed about the situation involving
    Cambridge Analytica and Facebook in which the data of millions was harvested.
    According to Carole Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison, Facebook “failed to
    alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the private
    information of more than 50 million individuals.” One could argue more people
    are becoming aware of the severity of data breaches and how it can affect them,
    but unfortunately, it is still a widespread issue to this day.

    I also agree to an extent with the writer on the point
    of security and how privacy can be controlled on a personal website. Things can
    become password protected and you can “license things as you like” (Watters
    2017.) However, it appears as if the writer almost encourages to put
    information on a website even if slightly personal. She justifies this by
    suggesting things can be “password protected” but this is not always a reliable
    security feature. Websites are hacked on a regular basis and I am a firm believer
    that one should not post very sensitive information on their site even if it is
    “private.” One could argue that the newer generations are growing numb to data
    breaches and posting personal information. It can be said that they do not care
    as much as previous generations in this matter.

    As long as it is used wisely, I do believe a domain of
    one’s own is extremely useful opting as a place to “cultivate” ideas and used
    as one’s own space as Watters discusses. A domain of one’s own could be
    implemented in the education system more. One could argue it is unjust and
    wrongful that the education system still revolves around pen and paper. Only at
    third level is the idea of a personal website pushed upon us, encouraging us to
    delve into the online world and personalize it, rather than running from it.

    The Virtual Revolution

    The video “The Virtual Revolution” was quite
    intriguing to me. The main point that struck me was the fact the internet was
    essentially created due to the American Defence setting up ARPANET. This was
    quite captivating for me as no one seemed to foresee billions of users all
    communicating and acquiring information through the internet in the near future.
    To them, it was simply a defence system. It is quite difficult to comprehend
    the fact this technology is now a major part of our lives and has altered the
    way we communicate completely. It has had an immense impact on the world,
    bringing us together in a lot of ways on a global scale. One could say that this
    is ironic, that the American Defence managed to bring people together!

    The journalist describes the importance of packet
    switching and the overall security measures in place to keep the network active
    and running. I agree with the fact these are extremely vital for how the
    internet operates and functions as a whole. A key point in the video is when
    Vint Cerf is interviewed and discusses how the internet has no “central control.”
    I believe this to be an important point as it shows the complexity of the structure
    of the internet. One cannot simply destroy the internet by targeting a specific
    area. Instead there are multiple route servers which could still operate
    communicating with themselves. Without these, the internet as we know it could
    be at stake, vulnerable to attack, which is a worrying thought.

    Cerf mentions here that the internet has no “central
    control.” This is also a major point. The internet is not governed by any one
    body. With this comes a sense of freedom, although it is not all plain sailing.
    Political activists like Aaron Swarz, have fought constantly in a battle for open
    access and freedom on the internet. Swarz personally wrote the “Guerrilla Open
    Access Manifesto” and had a great impact on the internet as a whole, preventing
    privacy laws and numerous other bills attempting to “control” the internet.

    Another interesting point is when Vint Cerf states
    there are “almost 2 billion people online.” This documentary series was
    released in 2010 and in just 9 years the number of users has increased at an
    exponential rate. According to Statista, “Almost 4.48 billion people were active internet users
    as of October 2019.” This is a stunning figure showing the ever-increasing
    power of the internet.

    I believe the documentary was enlightening in terms of understanding the vast
    scale of the internet and its impact on our lives nowadays.

    Hypertext and Our Collective Destiny – TBL
    talking about the web in 1995

    The reading “Hypertext and Our Collective Destiny” is
    very informative and quite captivating to read. Tim Berners-Lee, one of the
    great minds of this era, discusses his thoughts on information, hypertext and most
    importantly, networking.

    Personally, I found Berners-Lee’s thoughts on his
    dream of the web being an “interactive sea of shared knowledge” quite
    fascinating. His view that currently, we are using the web as a form of entertainment
    like a “television channel” is also an interesting take. We currently have a
    vast amount of information available to us at the touch of a finger, literally.
    One could argue like Berners-Lee has himself, and say we are not utilising the
    web to its full potential. After all, there is simply no better man to ask. Tim
    Berners-Lee’s idea of the web is centred around structure and organisation as
    he mentions “teams and organisations” multiple times. However, he doesn’t
    believe this is how we are actually using the web, it is just “a dream” to him.
    One could disagree with this point and say there are numerous examples of people
    working together and showing organisation through the web through social media,
    such as messaging applications like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp Messenger.
    These could be used to coordinate work and organise it using the web.

    When he states, “But pretty soon the web documents will start getting up and wandering
    around,” this could mean a number of things. One could argue Berners-Lee is
    referencing Artificial Intelligence here. It is interesting to note that the
    fear of Artificial Intelligence is even more present today, with countless
    people announcing their wariness towards future technologies. Even the
    Billionaire, Elon Musk, has voiced his opinion on this. As the leader of
    perhaps the most futuristic and forward-thinking companies, Tesla and SpaceX,
    you would think Musk would be eager to delve into the world of AI, however, this is not the case.
    He stated that I do think we need to be very careful about the advancement of
    AI,” and that he believes it is the “biggest existential threat” to us.

    poses a great question to us when concluding his talk, he refers to the use of
    links but asks, “do we know what to do with them?” I found this incredibly thought
    provoking. Are we still in the stone age? Are we still “Banging the rocks
    together” as Berners-Lee says himself? This question also caused me to think
    about the future of the web. As the World Wide Web is only 30 years old, one
    can only imagine the potential of future extensions of it.


    Berners-Lee: Talk at Bush
    Symposium: Notes [WWW Document], n.d. URL

    (accessed 12.10.19).

    Cadwalladr, C., Graham-Harrison, E., n.d.
    Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in
    major data breach 5.

    (68) The Virtual revolution Episode 2 Part
    2.wmv – YouTube [WWW Document], n.d. URL

    (accessed 12.9.19).

    Tim Berners Lee, Web Foundation (12th March 2018)

    Watters, A. (2017). Why
    ‘A Domain of One’s Own’ Matters | Read Write Collect
    . [online] Read Write
    Collect. Available at:

    Why ‘A Domain of One’s Own’ Matters

    [Accessed 9 Dec. 2019].

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