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?

About Amanda French

(Please ask any THATCamp questions on the THATCamp forums at -- I'm no longer THATCamp Coordinator.) I am now a member of the THATCamp Council, and I am the former THATCamp Coordinator and Research Assistant Professor at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, in which capacity I provided support for THATCamp organizers and participants, maintained, traveled to some (not all!) THATCamps, and directed large-scale projects such as the Proceedings of THATCamp. Before that, I worked with the NYU Archives and Public History program on an NHPRC-funded project to create a model digital curriculum for historian-archivists. I held the Council on Library and Information Resources Postdoctoral Fellowship at NCSU Libraries from 2004 to 2006, and afterward taught graduate and undergraduate courses at NCSU in Victorian literature and poetry as well as in the digital humanities and in advanced academic research methods. At the University of Virginia, while earning my doctorate in English, I encoded texts in first SGML and then XML for the Rossetti Archive and the Electronic Text Center. My 2004 dissertation was a history of the villanelle, the poetic form of Dylan Thomas' "Do not go gentle into that good night" and Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art."

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