Whew– what a week of Reclaim Open! This was Reclaim Hosting’s 4th hosted conference and one of the best I’ve attended to date (and hopefully many more to come!). It was my first in-person conference since the pandemic and it absolutely did not disappoint!

The week overall was incredible, full of laughter, catching up with people I hadn’t seen for several years, and even a trip down memory lane to visit the campus at UMW. Even more, attending a conference in the building I’d spent most of my time in as a student, the Hurley Convergence Center.

I’ve been reflecting on where I’ve been, where I currently am, and where I’m going in the Reclaim Hosting universe!

Where I’ve been

I’ve been at Reclaim since 2017, and I’ve worn many hats and everyone at the company really has! I started out as an intern focused on building out the Support documentation and learning the ropes of the support world. That evolved into a Customer Support Specialist role, where I became the frontline agent helping customers gain experience and confidence when working with their websites and student projects. Reclaim Hosting grew throughout the years, expanding teams. We now have our Infrastructure, Account Management, and Ed Tech teams! Before I knew it, Reclaim went to a 4 person team of 11 people on the team!

Where I am currently

With the team growing, my position has changed a bit! While I’m still working on the support team as the Senior Support Specialist, where I continue to work with our end users, my role at Reclaim has changed throughout the years. Now I’ve shifted from the Support Team Manager to working between the internal teams. I coordinate internal work requests with our Infrastructure team, train our new employees on support, and diagnose migrations, and I’ve started joining all the awesome things happening on the Ed Tech team.

And with all the fun things currently happening, this included planning Reclaim Open! The Ed Tech team had a blast planning all of the happenings for Reclaim Open!

Thoughts from Reclaim Open

I knew this conference would be different since we were in person in Fredericksburg. There’s something about having the “home base” of Fredericksburg. The other Reclaim conferences were fun, as we could travel to other cities in the States, and even conquer the internet with an online conference. Still, it was so nice to be in a familiar place in Fredericksburg.

I always enjoy hosting so I was excited to host everyone in town! There are a ton of fun things to do in Downtown Fredericksburg, and of course, Reclaim Arcade! Seeing everyone in one space after the pandemic was refreshing and uplifting. With all the ideas coming through every session from the Unconference to the scheduled sessions was great!

What was super cool too– getting to see our Infrastructure team take on the registration table! Noah and Goutam rocked it!

90s Living Room

We’re moving through the decades! Since we held the conference at the Hurley Convergence Center, we wanted to create a throwback and recreate a living room for the Art Fair! This time we went 10 years in the future to create a living room from the 90s.

We found a desk from a second-hand store and sifted through Goodwill for decorations. Tim lent some video game consoles from the Arcade. Taylor grabbed a monitor and computer tower on eBay to use a Mister to emulate Windows 95 too. I had the monitor and computer tower in my dining room for a solid couple of weeks before the conference started.

Projects While on the Ground

Outside of the pre-conference prep, we decided to film a documentary! This was such an amazing feat in itself, Taylor, Amanda, Pilot, and I created. This was an idea Jim wanted to create live during the conference, showcasing the themes, Where the Web Was, Is, and Will Be.

I was in charge of asking the questions during each interview, where we’d ask questions like:

  1. How did you get into the open web?
  2. What did you miss the most about the Web That Was?
  3. What is something the Past Web did not have, that you’re grateful the present Web currently has?
  4. What work are you currently seeing that you’d like to see grow in the future?
  5. Where is the web going?
  6. What is your Pie in the Sky Dream? Could be about anything (This one was my favorite!)

Then Pilot took very thorough notes on what each participant described and noted the timestamp for each question. After each interview, we’d upload the files to Google Drive to send off to Amanda in New York to clip/edit! Finally, Amanda would upload the edited clips for Taylor to edit the full video together. It turned out so well! Stay tuned for the full release and directors’ cut in July!

Thoughts on Interviews

I was so grateful to interview all of the participants! Everyone had so many thoughtful and interesting perspectives. Their experience with the web, what they’re working on now, what work they want to see in the community continue to grow, and where the web is going!

Everyone was super hopeful and optimistic. They’re excited about the new opportunities the web is bringing into our field, even if they seem bleak (cough cough AI tools)– but they’ve chosen to look at the awesome projects and work that’s coming out of these tools.

In the interview with Lee, she started talking about her optimism for learning and she’s seeing this through her daughter’s experience. Lee was so excited to see how they created online projects and utilized them in storytelling. It’s very reminiscent of the ds106 days.

I am always impressed by Pilot’s thorough note-taking. They were typing away the entire time I was asking questions, and it made things super easy to track through editing!

Thoughts on the Event

What’s more, everyone who presented was amazing! I caught a few presentations and every keynote was thought-provoking and inspiring. Thank goodness we were able to pull off the hybrid element to the conference as I still have a lot fo catching up to do.

Where I’m going

So now the question is, where are we going? The future is always interesting to talk about. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? I always like to say the future is optimistic.

I’d love to see more younger voices in our community, sharing their work and awesome perspectives. I’d love to explore how our work can be sustainable too. Working online has its perks, but finding small ways to help the environment a bit, will help keep it around far longer.

Will our lives turn out to be Solar Punk (one of my key takeaways throughout Bryan Alexander’s keynote)? What will that look like?

Loved the vibe from this photo in Bryan’s slide deck

As for me personally, I’d love to continue working with Reclaim! My time at Reclaim has been awesome so far and I can’t wait to see where it goes! I’d also love to pick up the blog a bit more. I keep telling myself to but I always forget. So whether it’s a short post or a long post covering events I’m going to post more! So here’s to Reclaim Open, a revitalizing event that brings out new ideas to refresh us for the summer and to keep brainstorming new ideas!

Some of the Reclaim Team celebrating a successful event!

4 Responses

  1. And thanks for all the work on the interviews. Along with the recordings of the live streams, the new Discord members, the Mastodon #reclaim tags, and blogging going on,…the artifacts of Reclaim Open 2023 are many. Like a little big bang, a reclaimed little bang as it were. :^)

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