In 2012 the University of Mary Washington started experimenting with the idea of giving faculty, students, and staff their own “plot of land” on the web. 

The impulse being that it was high time that universities start taking a pro-active role in providing opportunities for their community to imagine and create alternative online spaces that move beyond the limits of the “fluorescent-lighted space” of the Virtual Learning Environment, or VLE —also known as the Learning Management System (LMS) in North America. 

The project was called Domain of One’s Own (inspired by Virginia Woolf) and the organizing metaphor—for better or worse—was the house. Educated citizens need to understand how to put their virtual house in order, if you will, and with that comes the necessity for a deeper understanding of the various factors that make it livable: i.e. understanding the basics on web-based plumbing, electric, interior design, etc. As you can imagine, the metaphor can get unwieldy quick. In effect, the new world we inhabit, the new homes we occupy demand a new way of understanding the structures within which we live, namely the world wide web.

Image: from A Plot of Land: get to know your new web space, licensed CC BY-NC 4.0.