Archive for April, 2012

  • Schedule for Saturday, thanks to Amy Cavender!

    10-11:15 11:30-12:45 2-3:15 3:30-4:45
    113 FOSS show and tell Everything that’s wrong with DH Nature of community in online fora Virtual vices and digital desires
    293 Immersion and embodied interfaces Data visualization Cultural heritage Gender and technical spaces
    295 GIS Digitally enhanced poetry Ritual and virtual spaces Faculty skills/curricula
    271 Making our communities fun Public space Moving past institutional/traditional boundaries Help-a-thon/data
    12:45-2:00 lunch at the Grad Club
  • The Google Doc


    Hey Campers! Here is the link to the Google Doc. If anyone wants to add notes/ideas/suggestions/thoughts us organizers/workshops creators would really like to hear back from you! Cheers!



  • Helpathon: Bringing Staid Data to Life


    I’d like to propose a helpathon session where I’m looking for ideas and thoughts on what I could do with a pile of data and notes that beg to be turned into a larger project.

    Quick background: in 1998-1999, I spent a funded research year in Berlin documenting the cultural output of the rump German minority that remained in then-Czechoslovakia after the 1946 expulsions. The main product is a database of all literary production from the community–from individual poems in the only German-language newspaper to full novels–that has been sitting on my hard drive for 13 years now. In the intervening years, I have continued the research, filling in gaps in the database, interviewing key people, gathering knowledge about the cultural politics of the era, etc.

    At this point, it’s only my own sloth and lack of career imperative (I’m a librarian who doesn’t require a PhD) that have prevented me from turning this all into the dissertation it ought to be. Now that my kids are a bit older and I have somewhat more headspace, I’d like to knock this out. Problem is, what I would have done in 1999 is no longer really relevant; besides, part of the goal here is to create an interesting cultural document, one that might appeal to many people with interest in the region and general topic, not only academic researchers with closely related research interests (of which there are about two on the planet).

    It seems that there ought to be interesting things I could do by combining the database, my copious notes, and any number of data points I could dig up: population figures, geographic locations, publication statistics, etc. to create visualizations, animations, and representations that would add new dimensions. Hence the helpathon proposal. I’m looking for creative ideas that elude my narrow focus on the work I know well. How can I spice up this data and make something compelling?

  • [no]pick one: quantitative or qualitative[/youcantmakeme]


    I’d like to participate in a discussion about moving past institutional and traditional divisions such as humanities/social sciences/sciences, print/digital, and qualitative/quantitative when such divisions don’t support the ways we understand a topic, method, or problem.

    In Geography, I’m aware of Qualitative GIS, as an example, which brings together previously disparate qualitative and quantitative approaches in the context of spatial analysis. GIS generally falls into multiple categories itself, as a creation of geography and computer science, and as a method or tool used by many disciplines and professions.

    What other strategies and combinations are in play for other subjects? What kinds of obstacles (internal, intellectual, institutional, etc) hinder efforts to disregard such boundaries, and how can we get past them?

  • Digitally-Enhanced Poetry


    Although I have been writing and publishing poetry for several years, I am only just beginning to dabble in developing and executing poetic forms with the help of digital technology. Many of the formal and thematic properties of digital poetry are echoed in poetic practices that long predate the invention of World Wide Web, such as in the anagrams and proteus poems of the 3rd century A.D., the French Symbolist poetry of the late nineteenth century, and the constraint-based works of the “Oulipo” group of writers and mathematicians that emerged in the late 1950s. I bring to this session a few poetic forms that I’ve been fashioning according to my own set of parameters. I hope to address some practical questions regarding how these forms can be engaged with and modified by myself and others. Some of these include:

    Are there programs or applications that surpass the ability of online scrabble search dictionaries not only in the sense of generating lists of words that can be made from restricted selections of letters, but also in terms of categorizing these words according to other constraints? What kinds of technology are available that transform spoken words and their modulations into text? What sorts of digital media might exist, beyond social networking sites, that act as collaborative hypertextual sketch books or creative spaces? How might one begin to construct digital technology that facilitates these possibilities?

    I am also interested in grappling with some theoretical questions pertaining to authorial intention, materiality, and politics, such as,

    How might digital poetry challenge or complicate the perceived boundaries among programmer/writer/reader? And, how might a genre that is auto-reflexive problematically conceal its own representational and ideological approaches?

  • Two for the price of one


    Hello! My semester is rapidly drawing to a close and my thoughts are turning to THATCamp and London…I’d like to suggest two sessions for this weekend: one I enjoyed from last year and one based on some of my current thoughts and research.

    Last year, we had a great FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) show-and-tell session which I believe was proposed by Josh Wells (@evolvedtech. Will he be in attendance this year?). I would like to put in an early plug for having this session again, as it was awesome and introduced me to some cool programs I had not known about. We created a shared Google Docs presentation ( which is also totally rad…

    The other idea I’ve got kicking around in my head has something to do with user engagement across the cultural heritage sector. I’d love to have a discussion with fellow THATCampers about the ways in which we all use online communities and social networks professionally and personally to encourage positive interactions around cultural heritage materials. My current position is within the archival community, but I would love to talk to people at LAM institutions, as well as others who, for example, use Flickr Commons images. A new blog post from our American Collector in Chief reaffirms NARA’s commitment to user engagement through social media; what are other people’s experiences doing this kind of work?

  • nature of community in online forums


    Just thought I’d share the proposal I originally submitted:

    I’m fascinated by the information behaviour happening in internet forums. You name the topic, and in all likelihood there is a forum out there with a community of users talking about it: lung cancer, wedding planning, kid’s car seats (this one sort of blows my mind), novel writing, and on and on. The interface design is usually not very slick, often built and maintained by community members using open source software. What really intrigues me is the activity around information sharing and fostering a supportive community.

    Why the proliferation of internet forums? Is everyone just lonely? Is it the niche appeal — “I’ve found my people!”? Is it a new way of understanding and seeking expertise? If forums are the/ a source of expertise, what is gained and what is lost?

    In broader terms, this conversation at THATcamp could also touch on comment culture on news sites, the use of social networking platforms to crowdsource input on an inquiry, the process of becoming a Wikipedia editor and the nature of community (or lack thereof) among editors, and more!

    These days my interest in forums is at a finer grain but I left this proposal fairly open to bring in anyone else thinking about online communities or just interested in talking about them.  🙂

    As an aside, I like the Readathon idea. I’ll keep my eyes open for any particularly thoughtful articles / blog posts…

  • Immersion and Embodied Interfaces


    I’d like to hold a discussion on the barriers to immersion presented by embodied interfaces, and use it as a starting point to brainstorm how we might overcome these barriers. The paradox of these supposedly immersive interfaces is that they’re actually incredibly alienating. Similarly, even the most advanced virtual reality experiences fail to live up to our “Metaverse” expectations because we simply can’t fool our bodies.

    The session could include discussion of commercial gaming platforms such as the Kinect, but I’m personally more interested in how this topic pertains to mobile interfaces and location-based games. The rhetoric surrounding locative media offers the same promise of user/player empowerment as as that of hypertext, but we’ve known for years that this just doesn’t translate in practice. Technological constraints necessarily limit the amount of control a user/player can have, and so produce an illusion of agency that quickly falls apart. Rather than creating the promised immersive experience, the embodied interface often leaves the user feeling disoriented, discouraged and disempowered.

    How can we overcome these barriers? If we’re simply not there yet, how can we make constructive use of them instead?

  • Developing Faculty Skills


    My session idea is related to Ian’s, I think, though I’m coming at the questions from a faculty development angle.

    If we’re to integrate digital literacy and skills into the curriculum, faculty need to be equipped to do so—yet many of them aren’t so equipped. So I’d like to talk about a number of questions:

    (1) What digital skills do we want our students to have? That may be a starting point for what skills faculty should have. (Interested faculty, that is. It probably isn’t necessary for all faculty to be involved in developing students’ digital skills and literacy.)

    (2) Some faculty may be interested in developing their own digital skills for use in their research as well as in their teaching. That likely means they’ll be engaged in a fair amount of exploration and experimentation. So, what skills do faculty need in order to:

    • discover appropriate digital tools for the work they want to do, whether in the classroom or as part of their research?
    • develop facility in using the tools they discover?
    • be sufficiently sure of their own computing skills that they can confidently experiment without worrying that they’ll (a) break their computers or (b) cause headaches for colleagues in IT?
    Once we’ve identified these skills, how do we help faculty develop them?
  • Cluster Analysis and Information Visualization


    Here’s a session proposal by Christopher Green:

    “I am trying to extract, empirically, “schools of thought” in psychology at the turn of the 20th century. I am doing this by computing the (cosine) similarities between all the articles in runs of psychology journals from the era, and then doing a kind of cluster analysis. The results, thus far, are interesting, but very numerically dense. I would like to talk about ways to convert these kinds of results into graphical representations that will be more intuitive and appealing to audiences who do not understand (or particularly want to understand) the math behind them.”