A Domain of One’s Own

The phrase Domain of One’s Own and acronym DoOO were first used at the University of Mary Washington (Virginia, US) for a pilot project initiated back in 2012, in direct reference to Virginia Woolf’s essay A Room of One’s Own (1929):​

“A woman must have money, and a room of ​her own, if she is to write fiction.”

Virginia Wolf (1929). A Room of One’s Own. Text available at fadedpage.com.

A Room of One’s Own argues for both the literal and figurative space for women writers to create work in a discipline dominated by men. The essay was written at a time when women had limited access to education, and Woolf notes that women have historically been kept from writing due to societal constraints and relative poverty:

“In the first place, to have a room of her own, let alone a quiet room or a sound-proof room, was out of the question, unless her parents were exceptionally rich or very noble, even up to the beginning of the nineteenth century.”

A Domain of One’s Own is the idea that people must be given access to web hosting and a domain if they are to create web-based work and understand the technologies that make up the world wide web.

Coventry.Domains is a Domain of One’s Own initiative where students and staff are provided web hosting space and a subdomain name for free while they are at Coventry. By having access to the means to build websites, students and staff can learn how to engage effectively and ethically with the current social and technical ecosystem, and to make the most of it in the context of both professional activities and everyday life. ​

“Faculty and students must have a domain and web hosting of their own if they are to truly understand and engage the deeper possibilities of the open web.”

Jim Groom (2013). ‘A Domain of One’s Own: Jim Groom at TEDxUSagradoCorazon’.

In the same way that Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own is concerned with both literal and figurative space for creative practice, the idea of a Domain of One’s Own refers to the same. A Domain of One’s Own provides literal web hosting space and the opportunity to play, imagine and make use of the open web.

In this context the word “domain” refers to a web domain name but also the idea of a space for activity and thought. The phrase a Domain of One’s Own encourages reflection on what ownership means in the current technological ecosystem, and how an individual might govern a web space and have the freedom to make use of the space for both the benefit of themselves and others. By having their own web hosting and domain, an individual can think through how they wish to connect and communicate with others across the web and how they want to present their identity and work online.

Those with a Domain of One’s Own can create a multitude of websites and published works rather than just one individual website. A Domain of One’s Own can be imagined as a plot of land or a garden which can be planned, shaped and nurtured to contain any number of projects and works. An individual with a Domain of One’s Own has the freedom and means to imagine how they wish to use this space in the context of their work and personal interests. They also have the choice and control to remove their content or sites from their web hosting or make changes to how their sites work at their discretion. Importantly, they can choose to export all of their self-hosted content or individual sites and re-host with another provider as and when they wish to.