Bridging the Gap between the CS DL community and the LIS DL community.

I’ve notice a disparaging trend at both the ACM/IEEE-CS JCDL conference and at THATCamps. Digital Libraries researchers from Computer Science have never heard of THATCamp and don’t really interact with the people who attend. Conversely people at THATCamp don’t tend to think of the ACM/IEEE-CS community when they think about what is going on in digital libraries, digital archives, and digital humanities.

In fact the 2012 JCDL conference just ended at GWU the day before THATCamp V started at GMU. Here were two groups of people with similar concerns, interests, and goals across town and unaware of each other.

This session is to discuss why there is fragmentation between the more LIS DL people at THATCamp/ALA/etc and the more CS DL at JCDL/TPDL/etc and try and discuss ways to bridge the gap and bring both groups closer together.

Visually-Oriented Social Tools: Pinterest, Tumblr, and…?

So much emphasis in the Digital Humanities is on the written and the computational– it’s easy to forget that one of the major revolutions of the internet, especially once we got past dial-up, is the ease with which users are able to produce, manipulate, and share images.

For those of us who are deeply visual thinkers, however, this is a very important development.

I would like to propose a session discussing technologies of social image sharing like Tumblr and Pinterest. I think that tools like these have a lot of potential to draw in visual thinkers, encouraging them to learn, aggregate, and create in ways that our more textual social tools– blogs and Twitter, for example– might not.

I’d love to see people’s examples of Tumblr, Pinterest, and other similar tools in the classroom as part of a social pedagogical approach, as well as good examples of these tools being used for outreach and sharing by libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage organizations.

There are, of course, deep and fundamental issues with these sites– they are not specifically designed for this context. There are issues with metadata, deepness of data, and attribution, among other things. I’d like to see a discussion of what a perfect image sharing site for these types of use-cases might look like: more sorting? More thought given to citation? Greater opportunities for discussion and description?

Is this a tool that digital humanists should be working on? Should we be building a better social image sharing tool? Can something like this be built off of any existing open frameworks? Is this something that educators and cultural institutions would embrace, or would they tend to stay with the less-than-perfect commercial vendors because that’s where the people are?

The One About THATCamp

Frankly I could propose many separate sessions on THATCamp, to wit:

  • A session where we sit around and work on editing the Proceedings of THATCamp (due out August 1; most of the editing currently booked for July)
  • A session where we write a guide for those new to THATCamp
  • A session where we write a guide for people coming to THATCamp who consider themselves tech beginners (though this Profhacker post is a good start, as is this one)
  • A session for those who’ve organized or who might want to organize a THATCamp (see Kimon’s suggestion that we get together and share experiences
  • A session where we talk about our upcoming revamping of the THATCamp website, to be spearheaded by Boone — we’ve thought of lots of stuff already, but we take requests. Under advisement. :)

But let’s do only one or at most two of the above. Stick your stickers next to the one you most want …

One more–methods, workflows, and general productivity hacking

Having recently retooled my DevonThink setup yet again, I’m finding that I’m still dissatisfied. My regular everyday worktools include:

I’m happy to talk about what I love and hate about each of these, for example, I love Bookends’ integration with Mellel and hate how clunky it is. I love almost everything aout WordPress except actually composing posts. I want DevonThink and Omnifocus to TALK to each other. And more… I’d love for other folks to talk about how they do their workflows.  And to tell me why using Oxygen is such an uphill battle? In addition, I just upgraded my OSX to Lion and am curious if anyone has found awesome things that Lion can do that they want to share.

P.S. Other things I’d love to talk about include Islandora, teaching oneself to code, learning to work with the command-line after being a GUI person forever, and and and… they go on. Okay, calling this post “one more” might have been misleading…

Idea: The Submit Bit

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?

Twitter/Meta “Session” — THATCamp/DH Jargon

There’s been a lot of good, honest, appropriate posts about folks new to DH getting involved. Some responses have been focused on emphasizing the ‘friendliness’ of DH, but I have to say that to someone new to the area I don’t think that’s very convincing.

Latest example I know if is @madwomanlaugh‘s “A Glossary of Digital Humanities“.

So, I propose gathering people around a twitter hashtag two-fer: #thatcamp #jargon. Let’s get some folks who are willing to commit to following that pair of tags, and respond to questions directed at them asking questions.

A “hashtag” is something that happened in Twitter as a way to filter content. Similar to tags you are familiar with from Flickr or blogs, a hashtag is just a term preceded by a “#” hash or pound sign to signal that it is meant as one of those kinds of tags. It’s a way to include the same idea into the limited text of a Tweet. You just type along, and precede your tags with a #

So, who’s willing to join me in following the pair of hashtags, #thatcamp #jargon, and respond to questions about terms or ideas that seem confounding to people attenting THATCamp, and offer them various responses in an effort to give an introduction?

It runs the risk of too much information — if a lot of people respond to a tweeted question like

What is TEI? #thatcamp #jargon

The asker could be overwhelmed with responses. Hopefully, better that than exclusion based on knowledge not shared?

There will be gaps, and it’s an imperfect approach, but I think it might be helpful.

And yep! This is a twitter-centric approach to the issue. That’s because Twitter really is the most accessible broadcast mechanism we have, and clients offer the tools to help us focus on that pair of tags (e.g., a column in TweetDeck).

Any terms / ideas / technologies there unfamiliar? Please, join Twitter, and tweet a question about it including the hashtags #thatcamp #jargon !







WordPress at the University

For the past two years I’ve been managing WordPressMU on my campus for various purposes, including faculty portfolios and event-related blogs.  I’d like to chat with other technologist THATCampers who are using at their universities, with the aim of creating a list of recommended plug-ins and/or best practices for higher-ed (perhaps we could even create a wish-list of plugins that we’d like to see in development and pass that on to the THATCamp hackers).  I’m especially interested in discussing how universities are using WordPress for uses other than blogs (i.e. portfolios, event-planning, CMS, etc).

Mapping/Spatial tech idea session

Hello all,

First, let me just put it out there that this is my first THATCamp, first unconference, and first post to this blog.  I’m a PhD Candidate working on a diss that will hopefully have some awesome digital aspects.  I’m looking at Baltimore merchants from about 1790-1830 and I want to do several things with my data.  First, I’d like to map the relative locations of merchants in Baltimore (I have pretty specific info from city directories) over time.  Second, I’d like to map their Atlantic networks, which will connect to Europe, the Caribbean, and South America.  Third (and this one is only a small possibility) I’d like to map the flow of goods by volume, similar to these maps.  What I’d like to achieve in this session is a set of ideas about which applications or methods would be best suited for what I want to do, and, to see if it’s realistic for me to tackle this much digital work for what will be a mostly traditional dissertation committee.

Help a grad student out! (that should be a category)

Some THATCamper stats

Just thought I’d share a few factoids about the people who are coming to THATCamp CHNM 2012. Executive summary: our THATCamp has a slightly higher proportion of women (41%) than THATCamps overall (35%), a much lower proportion of people who’ve never been to a THATCamp (49%) than THATCamps overall (80%), and a somewhat higher proportion of academics at all ranks (though I do think the numbers from the text string fields are iffy). See for yourself:


Gender (N=146)
Women: 60 (41%)
Men: 86 (59%)
(numbers taken from folks’ selection of a t-shirt size)

Newb vs. non-newb (N=142)
Has never been to a THATCamp: 70 (49%)
Has been to a THATCamp once before: 26 (18%)
Has been to more than one THATCamp: 46 (33%)

Title (N=158)
Some kind of professor (*Prof*): 28 (18%)
Some kind of grad student (*Grad*” or *Doctoral* or *PhD*): 32 (20%)
Some kind of librarian (*Libr*): 7 (5%)
Other: 91 (58%)
(text strings always a bit sketchy to count, of course)

Organization (N=158)
From a university or college (*Univ* or *College*): 79 (50%)
Other: 79 (50%)
From GMU and/or CHNM (*Mason* or *GMU* or *Center for History* or *CHNM*): 31 (20%)
(same caveat about counting text strings; there’s probably quite a few more people who’re affiliated with higher ed)

We’ve got the same data for some (between 20% and 60%, depending on the field) of the 3200+ users on, so we can put it in a larger context.


Gender (N=1847)
Women: 642 (35%)
Men: 1205 (65%)

Newb vs. non-newb (N=624)
Has never been to a THATCamp: 501 (80%)
Has been to a THATCamp once before: 64 (10%)
Has been to more than one THATCamp: 59 (10%)

Title (N=1469)
Some kind of professor (*Prof*): 317 (22%)
Some kind of grad student (*Grad*” or *Doctoral* or *PhD*: 368 (25%)
Some kind of librarian (*Libr*): 161 (11%)
Other: 623 (42%)

Organization (N=1321)
From a university or college (*Univ* or *College*): 517 (39%)
Other: 804 (61%)
(same caveat about the higher ed contingent likely being larger: some people probably put the name of their research institute or unit instead of the name of their university or college)

Shoulda asked “awesomeness quotient.” I bet we’d have scored pretty high relative to other THATCamps there. :)