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.
  • Games, the narrator, and the single player


    Hi all.

    My initial idea for a session revolves around how games tell a story, using a prominent recent example:

    “While Sony/Quantic Dream’s 2010 game Heavy Rain has been rightly praised as offering a unique and engrossing narrative experience, any attempt to consider the game as an exemplar of rich interactive narrative must face certain problems of genre and the location of the narrative “eye.” While the game seems to unfold from a third-person objective viewpoint, the events of the game throw the objectivity of that viewpoint into question in ways that can shed light on both the problems and opportunities of mass-audience single-player interactive narrative.”

    I love the idea of a session with some live gameplay, but I’m worried about the single-player-ish-ness of the planned topic. One some level, I think this grows out of a literary narrative background–and if anyone is interested, might be a second major quality of the topic to push back on. My initial proposal focuses on what the player “sees” when s/he plays a game, and what happens when what you see is NOT what you get. But it might be just as interesting (and even more productive), to build something around whether games built around a single-player experience still have rich experiences to offer, or whether Heavy Rain’s self-conscious “auteur” mode of construction, where the player is guided through someone else’s vision of a story, is the last gasp of old narrative/old media values and philosophy.

    I’m deeply eager for feedback and ideas. Thanks. 🙂

  • The need for research data management


    I have broadened the scope of my proposal as I think the orientation was too library-centric.

    Here is the text of my initial proposal:

    “I would like to focus on how the library can support data management across the campus.  We are providing a range of services to assist researchers with data curation, preservation and access, including data citation and linking.  I would like to discuss what we’ve done, what we’re hearing from researchers, and see how that resonates with the experience at other institutions.  (or something like that)”

    I’d like to engage researchers as well as librarians in a broader discussion of the need for research data management and the campus services that can support that need.  In particular:

    • why is it important to preserve data for future research?
    • why is it important to make data accessible to other researchers including researchers in other disciplines?
    • what can we do to make data as accessible and reusable as possible?
    • how can we comply with funders who require us to have a data management strategy as a condition of the grants?
  • Full-Screen and Distraction-Free


    Myriad full-screen writing programs and distraction-free text editors are available online. Each purports to be unique in its presentation despite often promising to deliver the same, basic thing: increased focus on the task at hand.

    Beyond the occasional rave review online, though, I haven’t come across much analysis or research about any one of these programs. So, I’m curious about them, their implications, and how they are pitched to users. Both the programs themselves and their descriptive pitches enable and frame the act, purpose, and value of writing in different ways. Some are very process-oriented; others are more expressive. Many exhibit a monochromatic visual style, hearkening back to simpler times.

    Certain programs invite certain kinds of writers. For instance, Writer for iPad implies concern about “destroying the voice and the organic structure of our original thought.” Meanwhile, Ommwriter “believes in making writing a pleasure once again, vindicating the close relationship between writer and paper.” Furthermore, WriteRoom “gets your computer out of the way so that you can focus on your work.” Such programs are pitched and presented more as environments than tools. They are more spaces for us to write from/within and less instruments facilitating the writing process, if it is a process at all.

    Many are available for free or at minimal cost. I encourage my fellow THATCampers to download a program or two and give ’em a trial run prior to (or even during) our time together.

    selected directory
    FocusWriter (Linux/Mac/Windows)
    JDarkroom (Linux/Mac/Windows)
    Marave (Linux)
    Ommwriter (Mac/Windows)
    PyRoom (Linux/Mac)
    Q10 (Windows)
    WriteRoom (Mac/Windows)
    Writer (iPad)
    Writer (internet browser-based)

  • Rare book revolution in the classroom


    I have two interests, both involve expanding literature classrooms through digital technology.

    First, digitization has opened up rare book research to scholars in an unprecedented way. Rare book archives are online and allow scholars from all fields to deepen their research from their office. This form of scholarly researched needs to be incorporated into the classroom. Students are extremely familiar with navigating the internet, but are unaware of the academic possibilities the web holds. Therefore, I am interested in bringing rare books online into classroom activities in a meaningful way. Currently, I bring in images for students to analyze before we analyze texts. Therefore, I was thinking about having students analyze an image from an illuminated manuscript, but am not sure it will have the same appeal as a modern image. As you can see, I’m still working through this idea but know it holds great possibilities and would like to hear your comments!

    I also believe that this would prove useful to a composition classroom, as you can now view edits of writers such as Hemingway and Whitman online. This could be extremely useful when discussing the revision process or word choice.

    My second idea also involves technology in the literature classroom. Students can be intimidated by literature, however we can present complex analyses in a non-threatening way. For example, students can talk sophisticatedly about movies, images and music but get silent when asked to analyze literature. I could present on the ways I get complex ideas using media, then have students transfer those skills to literature.

    I appreciate any feedback and suggestions- thanks!

  • Digital Documents – Access to Online Government Information


    As a government documents librarian, I spend a lot of time thinking about how people find and use government information. Lately I’ve been wondering if some of our attempts to make documents as accessible as possible have backfired, making information harder to access.

    In the old days you had to locate your nearest depository library, then trace documents through a special catalog with a special classification system, sometimes relying on indexes and reference materials and usually requiring the assistance of a librarian. Now, anyone can access PDFs of reports or digital scans of maps from the comfort of their homes or anywhere else they have an internet connection. You can use Google to find Department of Defense publications and databases to create your own tables of Census data.

    But does being online really make something more accessible? What about people who don’t have internet access or are limited to dial up? Are we creating a nation of information haves and have-nots, limiting access to tax-funded research? Are researchers missing valuable information because they are using the first publication they find (librarians like to call this satisficing)? But most importantly, how do we archive materials that can be posted and taken down in a second? Where do last year’s reports go and how do we ensure that documents aren’t being altered after publication to fit the needs of the creator?

    Have we given up access and permanence for convenience? Or is digital access (also known as e-government in some library circles) revolutionizing an entire body of knowledge?

  • Museum Technology Pedagogy


    University museum technology courses are one means by which college students make their way into the professional world of culturage heritage informatics.  As a museum studies educator who has participated in two THAT Camps already, one topic that I wish had been discussed more is museum technology pedagogy.

    I’d love to talk with other THAT Campers about balancing theory and practice in the university museum studies / museum technology classroom.  Striking a balance for students between lecture and discussion and actually playing around with various technologies is a crucial tight-rope act that museum studies educators must perform.  I would like to start a conversation to share my own experiences and to find out:

    • what texts other folks are using,
    • what technologies other educators are teaching or demoing in their museum studies classrooms,
    • the balance they’re striking between traditional course texts and online texts such as blogs,
    • the balance they’re striking between lecture / discussion and technology demos, etc.
  • Faculty-archives collaboration in digital humanities


    I was thinking of proposing a camp discussion topic on faculty-archives collaboration in digital humanities to support interdisciplinary scholarship, enhance metadata (DC, EAD, TEI, etc) collaboratively.   Archives are a source of knowledge that can be used and re-used for scholarly research and/or administrative decision-making purposes,  but rigid (and often obsolete) description standards may render valuable collections hidden to potential users.

    • Can archives work with researchers to update the terminologies (controlled vocabularies, taxonomies, ontologies) periodically to facilitate the retrieval of old records?
    • Can archives support interdisciplinary research in digital humanities through collaborative metadata enhancement?
    • What improvements can archives make to promote research in specific fields (such as disability history/disability studies)? Will updated controlled vocabularies or techniques such as taxonomy mapping (between older and newer collections) work here?

    These are just questions.  I don’t expect all to be answered but will look forward to THAT camp for good ideas and discussions.

  • Building a Space for Digital FYC Resources


    Hi everyone! Here’s what I’m interested in doing…

    I am interested in building a sustainable, searchable online database of resources for teaching writing/composing with/about digital technology. Initially, I’d like to focus on resources for First Year Composition (FYC), but if successful this project could expand to encompass advanced composition and other writing courses.

    As an instructor who has taught FYC for eight years at several different universities, I believe this kind of resource is sorely needed now. Speaking as an instructor who has taught in traditional and class environments, I also believe that a resource such as this will be in even greater demand in the future as more and more universities teach courses in hybrid and online environments, and as more FYC courses take up science and technology themes and integrate digital composition projects.

    This is an enormous project that would take many years and much labor to plan and implement. I’d like help from THATCampers in getting this project from the idea stage to the planning stage.  What should I do first? What resources are out there already for me to look at? Where do I look for funding? Etc….

  • This Proposal is Cloudy


    Help me clear things up! Get it, cloudy – clear things up?

    The Cloud
    I can talk about either or both:

    1. What is “the cloud.” I can give a talk about what is meant by “the cloud.” I’d share what I’ve learned so far regarding outsourcing work to the cloud. I can also highlight some questions and concerns I have.
    2. I can talk more specifically just about the cloud service Google Apps which I administer at MSU. I just started running faculty training for Google Apps too. Therefore, I know about both the user side and administrative side. This would be less general cloud discussion and more practical Google Apps training.

    Getting Support in Open Source Software Communities

    I also have a strong background working with Open Source software. I gave a talk about a year ago regarding how support (i.e. help from people) differs between open source software and proprietary software. In order to trigger action:Open Source -> Rhetoric, Proprietary -> Money. I can tell you how to write a better bug report or feature request. I like thinking of this as hacking the community.

    If no one comments, I’ll pick something and put here or in the comments.

  • Announcing Great Lakes THATCamp 2011


    We’d like to welcome everyone to Great Lakes THATCamp 2011! Thats right…after the success of Great Lakes THATCamp 2010, we decided to do it again!

    For those who are unfamiliar, 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 take place on the beautiful campus of Michigan State University on April 30th and May 1st, 2011 in the Residential College of Arts & Humanities.

    We will be accepting applications until March 11th, 2011 – but don’t wait too long because we can only accept 100 attendees.  To apply, just visit the Apply section of this website, fill out the form, and you are good to go.  Its really that easy!  No complicated submission processes like other academic conferences.

    If you are interested in digging deeper into how Great Lakes THATCamp works, who should apply, or what constitutes the “digital humanities” (hint: it isn’t just for humanists), check out the About section.

    We encourage all applicants, participants, organizers, and onlookers to sign up for a Twitter account and follow news, announcements, discussions, and general hype coming from our profile (@GLTHATCamp) and the global THATcamp hashtag (#thatcamp).  Also, if you don’t already have one, go sign up for a Gravatar account.

    For more info, check out the About page or send an email to Ethan Watrall (watrall [at] msu [dot] edu)

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