One thing I’ve noticed in all the many THATCamps I’ve been to over the past three years (I should really count sometime, but at least a dozen) is that there’s less “less yack, more hack” than there used to be. The default session at a THATCamp, in fact, is a discussion. As I often say, though, I’m a humanist, so for me, a good discussion *is* a good, productive outcome. And the “yack” you get at traditional non-un-conferences is so often bad yack, the “sage on the stage” kind of yack, whereas at THATCamp we actually get to talk to one another, which frankly I love. My other hoary THATCamp chestnut is “an unconference is to a conference what a seminar is to a lecture,” and if I didn’t love seminars I’d never have earned my PhD.
Nevertheless, I do sometimes wonder how we could bring back the emphasis on productivity, and I have an idea about that that we could try out here. I’ve scheduled in a half-hour demonstration (aka “demo”) session on Sunday for people to show off what they’ve built in the hackathon, but here’s the idea: we make that longer, say an hour at least, and open it up to anyone who’s produced something, anything, this weekend — including a blog post, a web site, a wiki, a bibliography, what have you. Could also be open to people who’ve expanded on existing resources (added a bunch of entries to the DiRT wiki or the Digital Humanities Glossary, for instance). I’m basically thinking of it as another round of Dork Shorts (2-minute lightning talks), but limited to things done this weekend at THATCamp. I came up with a cutesy name for it: “The Submit Bit.” As in, the bit where people submit what they did this week for public admiration. If it works, we could include it in the THATCamp documentation as a way to increase the emphasis on productivity.
I know not everyone’s staying through Sunday, but folks could send me a link to their thing (via email or a comment on this post) and I could show it for them. We could rejigger the Sunday schedule so that there’s one 90-minute slot for breakout sessions in the morning from 10-11:30 and then an hour for demos in front of all THATCamp from 11:30-12:30 before we wrap up. Or do a 10-11 breakout ssessions and then The Submit Bit from 11-12 and wrap up early around 12:15.
What do you think?