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.
  • Humanities Data!?


    Lifecycle management of data is becoming increasingly important to funding agencies and many agencies now encourage data management, re-use, and sharing plans. Some major funders even require a formal “Data Management Plan” (DMP) in order to be competitively considered for funding. As there is already at least one other proposed conversation around RDM I would like to extend or merge these discussions by focusing on the following:

    • Types of humanities data?
      • “Domain Specific” text, text corpora, textbases, structured text, plain text, massive text databases (flat, relational, object oriented, native XML), email, correspondence, video/audio ethnography, maps, “new media”,
      • “Normal Data with the humanities twist” multimedia data (images, audio, video, flash), browser data (HTML, XML, JSP/ASP/PHP/CGI/whatever, XHTML), NUMERIC *gasp* DATA!!! (spreadsheets, others?)
      • “Really weird stuff” ontologies, thesaurus, interactive timelines, digital cultural artifacts, models, 3d artifacts
    • Proprietary humanities data?
    • Data sharing in the humanities
    • Existing disciplinary repositories for “humanities data”

    Current discussions of humanities data are fairly literature-centric (just as my examples above). I would love to hear from people in History, Law, Philosophy, Anthropology, Fine Arts, Communication, Religion, etc, etc. One outcome of this group might be writing and submitting a Data Profile, or visiting and compiling the guidelines and requirements for major and minor humanities funding agencies and disseminating via the lists.

  • Creating teaching consortia using online learning


    What I’d like to discuss is how departments and academic programs at multiple universities might collaborate via the use of online or hybrid courses to a) fill gaps in their curricula that cannot be addressed locally and/or b) to create new teaching and research consortia that could jointly offer sets of courses or even new academic programs. Such consortia could draw upon particular areas of expertise from faculty members across institutions, enhancing scholarly collaboration and allowing institutions to respond more effectively to growing fields and to the interests of students.

    My interests in this topic are more than theoretical.  Several colleagues and I are in the early stages of creating a set of online courses that will be offered for credit by what I hope will become a new consortium of universities throughout the northeastern USA.  I’m as much interested in the model this might help to build for other fields, as it is for the field I’m focusing on: hockey studies.

    Having seen great success with an online course I developed at UVM on hockey in Canadian literature, my colleagues (all from other institutions) are planning to expand this to draw on courses offered at other universities on topics such as the connection between hockey and history, hockey and politics, and other more predictable areas of study such as sports psychology or management.

    We envision that students from the participating institutions might take this suite of courses either as online courses offered at their home institutions and taught by faculty from other consortia institutions or as courses offered online by the home institution of the faculty member and accepted for transfer credit at the student’s institution. The devil of course, is in the details, and determining how we will successfully persuade our home institutions to collaborate in such a way is by far the biggest challenge that lies ahead.

    I’d love to get some feedback on this broader idea of consortia that might help to build learning communities out of like-minded scholars and students working at a number of different universities. Any advice or ideas about how to facilitate such inter-university collaboration will be especially welcome.

  • What does a terabyte mean, socially? (Or, DIY and infrastructure)


    I would like to talk with others about the practicalities of digital work at the scale of one or a few people. There are a lot of mysteries and mystifications around technology, and some of the ones I find myself thinking about a lot relate to scale. Some outside of digital humanities circles may not yet have a clear sense that it doesn’t require high-powered infrastructure for a single researcher to manage tens of thousands of documents on a laptop or a humanities instructor to self-host WordPress blogs. At the other end of things, however, Google has resources to operate at a scale the most advanced university digital humanities centers can’t approach. From far enough outside, lumping it all as technology stuff, these things can look more similar than they might to THATCampers. But even when one gets considerably closer there is a lot about the great, complicated, shifting middle scale that seems not all that well charted. Many of us don’t have good intuitions about what’s easy, what’s hard, what’s impossible, what’s changing, or how to find out. I’d like to compare notes and learn more.

    Though digital storage is not really the heart of the matter, we could start with some simple questions: how big is a gigabyte, or a hundred gigabytes, or ten terabytes, in social terms? How big, relative to social context, is a humanities database with five thousand records, or five million, or five billion? What changes about human scale between the context of desktop machines, public servers, and mobile devices? How are the possibilities of scale affected by individual knowledge, or access to well-established professional knowledge, or the rare expertise of a highly specialized team? What requires a center, and what requires a network? What scale is an afternoon’s digital humanities exercise, and what takes years of planning and major grant funding and a business model?

    Especially: how do we get our intuitions to keep up — and then make those intuitions visible and persuasive so that others can share them without mystification?

  • Labor, bodies, humanities, and technology


    I wonder if anyone is interested in talking about the intense labor that is involved in setting up projects that use humanities and technologies together in a thorough way, or that use online technologies for teaching in any discipline.

    The kinds of sessions that are being proposed are fascinating. I want to know and do everything! At the same time, I don’t want to teach from inside a computer; rather, I don’t want to spend any more time in front of a computer than I already do.

    First, my body is paying the price. Second, all of this is labor intensive. What kinds of workplace guarantees have to be negotiated so that eager instructors have the security to invest the time into developing these for instruction, or even experimenting to see which ones might be good?

  • On The Possibilities of New Publications


    Hi, all!

    I’m interested in having a conversation about emergent publishing models. Specifically, the way in which new media forms of publication have the potential to transform our definitions of scholarly work. Are traditional methods of academic publishing (e.g. journals, bound theses/dissertations) still the best way to share our ideas? The explosion of online print methods brings with it not only more options for getting our work out there, but different consequences, both positive and negative, for each option. In addition, authorship and readership are both transformed with each method we choose. Navigation of publications differ when we step into different arenas.  I can see this discussion fitting in nicely with Translating Text to Digital and Reviewing the Review.

    Some questions I’d like to explore: What do we stand to lose/gain when we move towards digital production and away from the old-school? If we choose to publish digitally, will we be taken seriously as scholars by people who are not yet DH converts (a question that lends itself to both To Tech or Not To Tech and DH Lite)? How do the possibilities for recognition of our work expand when our methods of publishing are less rigid, more undefined? For instance, does the value of a high quantity of readers on a blog exceed the value of potentially more influential readers of a printed journal? I have many more questions around this topic, and I’m sure you guys will think of even more!

  • K-12 foreign language literacy and technology


    Den Letzten beißen die Hunde… Here is what I’m interested in.

    In the current economic climate, many K-12 foreign language programs are cut and the situation in Michigan is particularly dire. Part of the mission of the Community Language School at Michigan State University is to provide support to students and teachers in the community and to bridge existing gaps in language offerings.

    I am particularly interested in engaging in conversations about the crossroads of literacy and technology for K-12 students and the role foreign languages can play. We have experimented with a few online models and I would like to hear from others who have used online tools to advance literacy for young learners.

  • DH Lite? Helping Untechie Students Do DH


    Apologies for posting so belatedly…I do have the advantage now of having read everyone else’s posts.  I’m excited to see so many about teaching.  I’m definitely in “that camp” (sorry!) when it comes to the Digital Humanities.

    I am hoping to talk to others about helping both undergraduates and grad students, though especially the latter, develop projects within digital humanities, even (or perhaps especially) if they are not specializing in that area (the Academic Luddite session will thus also be helpful to me, I think).  How do we assign, discuss, frame and evaluate such work?  I am hoping to generate discussion of others’ classroom or institutional experiments and hear ideas for criteria, rubrics, methods and standards.  And pace recent public definitions of our field, can students “do” digital humanities without code?  I think we can—I have seen students post fine work on (for example) weebly.com, work that taught them about site design, textual collection and selection, interpretive focus, and audience appeal—even though they did not learn even the rudiments of html.  I think of their DH work as apprenticing—it does not have to be ready for prime time yet, just as a seminar paper can be a solid performance without yet being publishable as a journal article.  However, I am open to learning why I may be wrong about this.  I also want to gather ideas about how to encourage students to “think beyond the site”—most projects I have received in my literature courses so far, especially from grad students, are very 1.0 in their thinking about information display (my undergrads are much more flexible in working in/with multi- and trans-media formats).  I have also found most students (again, especially grad students) reluctant to collaborate, which of course limits what they can achieve in the space of a one semester final project.

    My current assignment instructions and sample student projects are here; some supplemental ideas I provided are here.  Advice on improving these is especially welcome.

    Of course, all of these ideas should be couched in a more theoretical exploration of how the digital humanities have changed our understanding of terms like “assignment” and “evaluation,” but in the end, I want ideas for the classroom.  I especially hope some graduate students attending will share what inspired them to become digitally savvy (thus my topic, I think, links to the one on GradHacking, too).

  • Reviewing the review


    There is already a great deal of discussion about how to revamp pre-publication peer review in scholarly communication. However, lately I’ve been thinking about the other side of this coin: the post-publication (book) review, which (unlike blind reviewer comments) is a genre of publishable scholarly writing in its own right.

    I am the reviews editor for Digital Medievalist (http://www.digitalmedievalist.org/journal/). This is an open access online journal focused specifically on digital humanities research–and yet our reviews are almost exclusively of fixed products like books or electronic editions on disc.  I am often frustrated with this whole model (from the logistical–why, in 2011, am I shipping a year-old hardcover book from Michigan to Germany?–to the philosophical) Last year, we tried to make a shift to reviewing more open, web-based scholarly projects in addition to books, without much success. Many people nominated projects for review, but few stepped up to review.

    I imagine one factor is that publishing a fixed review, passing one-time judgment on a living, dynamic project, just doesn’t make much sense. (Another, I suspect, might be that DH folk prefer to help each other out than pen scathing indictments.)

    I’d like to chat with others about the function of the traditional book review, and in what ways it is still a useful genre (or not). I’d also like to strategize about how journals like Digital Medievalist can do a better job of engaging in the productive evaluation of published scholarship.

  • Digital Skills in Graduate School: What are the essentials?


    I propose a topic that will discuss ways to incorporate digital skills into graduate education. This topic hopes to stimulate conversation about ways digital skills can enhance the visibility and marketability of the student while in graduate school and beyond. We will also discuss ideas about what should happen once the student acquires digital skills. This topic will encourage participants to think about their respective field and discuss ways to contribute in the form of possible digital projects. Potential discussion questions are as follows: How do you teach digital skills? What is the essential background every graduate student should have? Should this be in the form of a course, a series of workshops, or both? Should it be student driven based on topics students want to cover?

  • Hacking/Solving Mobile DigitalHumanities


    Along with text analysis and working with GIS metadata, one thing I’m currently curious about is applications for mobile devices; I’ve attended a few presentations about mobile websites in libraries and I know the nuts and bolts of Android and iOS development but other than mobile-izing a given search & browse website (which of course doesn’t need an app) I’m unsure humanities projects even want to hassle with a mobile device ‘app’. We could demo a few different apps and work to develop something cool; maybe someone has a particular problem and we can ‘solve’ it with an app.

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