Welcome to Great Lakes THATCamp

Great Lakes THATCamp (The Humanities And Technology Camp) is a user-generated "unconference" on digital humanities originally inspired by the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University. Great Lakes THATCamp will be held on the beautiful campus of Michigan State University on April 30th & May 1st, 2011 in the Residential College of Arts & Humanities.
  • Archives, Media and Scholarship


    I’m interested in looking at media-based geo-location software such as WhatWasThere and Broadcastr in order to explore how scholarly research can be enhanced with online visual and audio collections. In addition, new developments in archiving and digital exhibits are moving traditional finding aids and “back room” scholarship onto the open and visible Web. At Eastern Michigan University we are using these two tools and looking at others to explore those ideas.

    I would also like to look at how particular collections might be useful and enhanced for online scholarly research, and for this purpose I would like to offer EMU’s Gordy Motown Collection as a test case. How do we design the collection’s online presence to encourage open scholarship?

  • Money, morality, technology, education


    Here’s a very last-minute post / session idea, somewhat unformed — I’ve been thinking a good bit lately about the role of money in digital humanities, and indeed higher education more generally. Some academics outside digital humanities really hate digital humanists’ willingness to accept money from corporations like Microsoft and Google, for instance, and at the same time I think a good bit of the recent “boom” in digital humanities is due to the undeniable fact that there’s money in and for digital humanities. The hideous job market situation for humanities PhDs isn’t nearly as bad for humanities PhDs who have some tech skills and are willing to move into administrative positions, and even though I am one of those people, I deplore the fact that universities are willing to create stable full-time jobs for the legions of staff members necessary to support university technology, but they’re not willing to create stable full-time jobs for university teachers.

    Audrey Watters and I were even talking about putting together some kind of book project around this, and we could use a session to, heck, write a proposal or something. We’d love to get people debating one another on this. Interested?

  • the creativity initiative


    ‘The Creativity Initiative’ is a cross-cutting research area, initiated in 2010 at MSU, focused on a broad and distinctive range of creative processes:

    • research that connects the traditional creative arts with one another, and the social and natural sciences
    • research on creativity in approaches to teaching math, engineering, and other stem disciplines
    • research on teaching creativity, across the curriculum, focusing on groups and communities, in addition to individuals, and “at risk” students
    • research on creativity in everyday decision making, in multimedia composing and digital gaming
    • research on creativity within scholarly communities (especially in an interdisciplinary context)
    • research on creativity in the development of preventative health practices
    • research on creativity in newly evolving forms of entrepreneurial activity
    • research on creativity in the use and cultivation of space in community contexts.

    The initiative embodies existing faculty research strengths, has broad and deep relevance across the university, has the potential to secure external funding and impact communities, and can enhance the role and reputation of MSU, and its partners, nationally, regionally, and locally.

    The Office of the VP for Research has committed to funding a planning process to develop this initiative.  The intent of the planning process is to identify and develop distinctive areas of research concerned with creativity in which MSU can play a key role, as either a leader or significant partner. Engagement is also fundamental to this initiative. Along with identifying research areas, the planning process will develop models for disseminating research outcomes through innovative and productive use of new communication technologies and MSU’s broad network of social and community resources.

    Goals for the initiative include the generation of a substantial body of research that contributes to a broad set of academic disciplines and professions. Just as importantly, the goals also include making a significant and sustainable contribution to the economic development of the state, and beyond, through initiatives related to creative processes.

    Based on models of other cross-cutting efforts, the Creativity Initiative is adopting a hub and cluster structure for the planning year. The “hub” refers to a decentralized administrative core.  and five thematic research clusters that will identify an initial set of possible research areas. One of the clusters will have the added cross-cutting responsibility of prototyping innovative supporting technology platforms.   As the planning progresses, other clusters could be added, in connection with the development of the distinctive areas of research.

    The planning year will conclude with the launching of a new journal, with  proposals for funding to external granting agencies and foundations, and with concrete research pilots to be initiated by each research cluster.

    Dean Rehberger, Mark Sullivan, Hilary Holman

  • One+ Language: Three+ Scripts?


    My research and teaching is based in Hindi and Urdu.  Although arguably different spectrums of the same language, they are written in different scripts.  Hindi, which in general has more Sanskrit vocabulary  is written in a left-to-right devanagari (देवनागरी) script and Urdu, which draws more on Persian and Arabic, in a right-to-left Perso-Arabic script called nastaleeq (نستعلیق).  Both scripts are generally but not entirely phonetic.

    In a series of small projects, I have explored the possibility of creating a meta-notation that will encapsulate enough information to allow the representation both scripts, as well as phonetic transcription and diacritic-based transliteration, of any given text (http://bit.ly/cYnMCi ; http://bit.ly/krcUT3).  The overall goal of my project is to use digital technology to override the limitations of the division between these scripts/languages.  My interest is in encoding more phonetic of etymological information about texts than Unicode will allow, so that digital texts can be used for both advanced humanities research as well as for language pedagogy.

    My  particular research interest is in Urdu poetry, which is among the most prized literary genres in South Asia.  I have explored ways of building on the class-based lexer/parsers used for script conversion in order to facilitate computational prosody of Urdu poetic texts.  Urdu meter is based on length rather than stressed syllables.  Using the meta-notion therefore would allow that these popular texts could be read not only in Hindi and transliteration but also exposed as sound in time.  How can that be visualized?

  • Data! Data! Data!


    “Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.” –Sherlock Holmes, from the Adventure of the Copper Beeches.

    There are a lot of great session ideas about data, would it make sense to merge some of these, depending on time?  I’d love to talk a bit about how Linked Open Data could play a role too.

    Speaking of, here are the slides from the Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives and Museums bootcamp today. Thanks!

  • Digitizing for online use – what’s good enough?


    Digitizing media, in whatever form, nearly always involves digitizing to certain specifications. 300dpi along the long dimensions for some objects, 24bit/96k .wav files for some audio, or 50 mBit sec video saved to as DV in a .mv wrapper… The numbers and formats all have meaning as we archive, compress, and distribute scanned photos, digitized audio, and streamed video; the numbers and formats can also become a confusing, swirling roadblock for humanists unaccustomed to digital media.

    “I just want to get this online so I can use it.”

    What’s good enough to put online? And when do archival specifications for digital media matter, given source, audience, and mitigating factors of budget and time? I’d like to begin a conversation about digitizing materials for online use, knowing the discussion could quickly become technical yet hoping we can avoid the specifications of digital files for a while and talk more openly about what is good enough. And, just as importantly, when do archival specifications for digitizing materials matter?

  • Research Commons for digital humanities


    We have plans to establish a “Research Commons” to support the digital humanities research on campus.  I’d like to hear from researchers who have or would like to have a collaborative facility to support digital humanities research.  What tools, supports, services, environment would you like to see in a physical space dedicated to supporting digital humanities research?  What would help you to realize your aspirations?

  • Empowering everyone to add to “History”


    Hi everyone! I’m a web developer, and my primary motivation for attending THATcamp was to hopefully gain a bit more visibility into the world of the institutions that I’ve been working with on whatwasthere.com – a site built to present historical photography in a geospatial context, amidst the modern-day landscape.

    I’m interested in discussing the challenges in attempting to crowdsource the process of metadata aggregation across a wider audience – especially in gathering non-textual metadata, such as location. I can speak to the obstacles we encountered in building the tool we offer for users to geolocate photographs.

    I’m also interested in discussing the institutional perspective on “crowdsourced” data.  Having read the other posts here, this topic seems a little thin, but I’m thinking it may fit nicely as a side conversation in one of the many related discussions.

  • Exploring the Publishing Needs of Digital Humanities Scholars


    (I share this proposal with my colleague Maria Bonn, AUL for Publishing.)

    What do you want from your publisher? Is it important to you that your publication be open access? In print? Have a nice cover? Do you want to see your book at scholarly conferences? Do you need help shaping your ideas and prose into final form? Or do you want assistance in giving your ideas an online life? Maybe you need help navigating digital permissions or understanding how you can use social media to promote your work?

    The ways in which we “do” scholarship are changing and so are the many ways in which we publish academic work and spread scholarly ideas. MPublishing wants to be responsive to the needs of scholars and to help design effective and affordable ways to get out the scholarly word.

    MPublishing is the newly formed hub of publishing at the University of Michigan, a merger of the University of Michigan Press and library-based publishing initiatives that support a range of publishing styles and services — from open access journal hosting to disciplinary based monograph publishing, digital archives, reprint publishing from our library’s collections, and more.

    We’d like to talk with humanities researchers about specific publishing needs they have that are either being unmet or are underserved by the current scholarly publishing landscape. For instance, among digital humanities practitioners, lightweight, DIY methods of scholarly conversation via Twitter, blogs, and other forms of networked discourse have widespread adoption. Yet formal models of publication such as the book and journal article remain required for tenure and promotion. We wonder whether a library-based publisher might develop services and tools to mediate between informal and formal publication styles and genres, helping to make the best of both worlds.

    This session aligns well with sessions that have already been proposed, such as On the Possibilities of New Publications and Reviewing the Review.

    We look forward to some pub chat with you all!

  • What colors is TEAL in digital humanties?


    <http://icampus.mit.edu/projects/TEAL.shtml>: “The Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) project has revamped the way Introductory Physics classes are taught at MIT. Physics is an experimental science, but many of the introductory level classes taught at MIT involve no hands-on laboratories. Modeled after the Studio Physics format instituted by Professor Jack Wilson at Rennsaeler Polytechnic Institute in 1994, the TEAL format combines lecture, recitation, and hands-on laboratory experiments into one classroom experience which, in this case, meant revamping the classroom itself. Animations and simulations have been incorporated into course materials to help students visualize and understand the complex interactions inherent in electromagnetism.”

    This past year I have been experimenting with “Technology Enabled Active Learning” (TEAL) in a humanities-heavy course, a 50 person, freshmen-level introduction to human origins and prehistory. The course discusses anthropological concepts of culture and cognition, but (caveat) also includes some physical science components. For one class a week, students are divided into groups for collaborative exercises related to the current class topic and their work may be continued outside of class. These exercises include literature research, evaluation of various sources, mapping, and information management. In-class technology is provided through one of the university’s portable laptop computer labs, which can bring 24 machines into the classroom and connect them through a dedicated router (for a minimum ratio of student:computer of about 2:1).

    This coming year, I am ramping-up the TEAL component by moving the class into a dedicated computer lab and making TEAL activities into a daily portion of class and homework activities. I want freshman and other students to learn to use our IT-infrastructure in order to meaningfully contribute as individuals to focused, collaborative products about humanities research. Student acceptance of the practices, and appropriate assessment of individual contributions will be key.

    I would like to have a brainstorming and knowledge-sharing session with other campers about the ways you’ve used TEAL-like practices in your class, or ways you would like to do so.

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