Session Idea: Digital Decisions on a Notes Archive

I’ve been thinking for some time about a born-digital version of my ongoing notes on scholarly sources and materials, my own curation of personal ‘digital marginalia’–not project-specific notes, but general notes from an overall generalist practice of “liberal arts” scholarship. I blogged about the concept behind the project earlier this year. The core objectives of the project are, in order of their importance:

a) to document what the ‘lived practice’ of scholarly knowledge consists of, to show what kinds of readings and contemplation goes into interpreting and annotating material on an ongoing basis
b) to provide such notes in a way that is open to long-term sharing, collaboration and repurposing between scholars and wider publics
c) to work towards one possible model of how born-digital notes and marginalia might be incorporated into referencing or cataloging practices

I’m at the stage where I’m testing an implementation of the project, as follows:

a) a flat-file version of the notes deposited in a public folder at Dropbox
b) a publication of the notes to a WordPress or CommentPress blog dedicated to that purpose
c) a publication of the notes to a public Zotero group
d) a publication of the notes to my library on LibraryThing (as ‘reviews’)

I’d love a chance to work through whether these are sound decisions in a collaborative discussion. This is a lot of by-hand effort, for one. I’d like to map some decision trees in concert with a group, as far out as we can take them, and explore some of the ‘roads less taken’ in relation to my own ambitions, the costs and burdens of a project of this kind, and the range of technical and theoretical insight available in a group. I’m particularly interested in thinking about this kind of project against the backdrop of the intellectual history of notation and information management offered by Ann Blair in her book Too Much to Know.

Session Idea: Outcomes of the first OK Festival in Helsinki

The world’s first Open Knowledge Festival was held in Helsinki, Finland from September 17-22. The festival was largely planned by six individuals from the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Finnish Institute in London and the Aalto Media Factory, Forum Virium, EIT ICT Labs, and Otavan Opisto in Helsinki. Planned by a diverse global team, the Open Knowledge Festival was intended to combine the Open Knowledge Foundation’s two annual conferences, the Open Knowledge Conference and the Open Government Data Camp in a week-long celebration. Festival-goers planned 2/3 of the program.

As an example of innovative new conference formats and a forum for important issues surrounding open knowledge, I would like to discuss the significance and outcomes of the OK Festival. Thanks to live streams of all the conference sessions and information on the website, we will be able to discuss the conference without having attended the conference.

Session Idea: Lowering Barriers to Sharing DH Content

I’m familiar with lots of small historical societies–volunteer-run, mostly–who have photographs and historical documents they would like to share but are not sure how. Some scan the photos and put them on their own websites and some add them to Facebook, but their methods often don’t produce high-quality visual representations, have poor metadata, and don’t disseminate the content effectively. This is probably similarly the case for other sorts of non-profit, non-professional humanities groups or arts organizations.

How can the professional community help these small, non-professional groups? Can we help train them in the use of available tools, like Omeka or PastPerfect’s exhibit plug-in? Is it possible to effectively utilize social media like Facebook and Pinterest? When discussing the proposed Delaware Valley Digital Humanities Center, can we afford to provide services to the little guys?  Could the DV DH Center look something like the Maine Memory Network or North Carolina’s DigitalNC? Could we have a Philly-based scannebago?

Session Idea: The Middle Space

I would like to propose a session on what the middle ground of DH might look like.  To me it feels like those in DH are in one of two camps- those with the technical training to create and those with academic degrees/authority that create the idea of the project (faculty).  Perhaps this a simplification of the two roles but in my limited experience, it is what I have witnessed.  Is there a middle space?  What are the qualifications that lead to a career in the middle space.

Schedule and Food – Important Info

Have you posted a session idea yet?  Get to it!
(You should have received your login info a couple weeks ago)

Friday Sep 28 – Workshops (“Bootcamps”)
8:30-9:00am – Registration and coffee
9:00am – Workshops start
3:45pm – Workshops end

Saturday Sep 29 – Unconference Sessions
8:30-9:15am – Session Proposal Voting — You should be here for this…it’s the process at the heart of THATCamp!
9:15-10:00am – Welcome, intro, coffee, schmoozing, etc.
10:00pm – Sessions start
4:30pm – Sessions end and closing remarks


  • Drinks: Hot & Cold Beverages will be available all day on both Friday and Saturday.
  • Conference-Food: We weren’t able to wrangle the funding to have food.  So eat breakfast, bring snacks, or whatever you need to do to power through the day(s).  Please, no food larger than a carry-on. And clean up after yourself — what, do I look like your mother? (I look like my mother. Obviously.)
  • Lunch: Lunch On Your Own on both Friday and Saturday — there are literally dozens and dozens of restaurants and food places within 3 blocks of Chemical Heritage, so you won’t have trouble finding somewhere to eat in or take out.  If the weather is nice, there’s also lots of great outdoor areas to hang out, eat, take in the {cringe} sunlight, etc.

We’ll have the full schedule available on the Schedule Page as soon as possible.

Continuing To Work With Students Who Have Low Technology Skills

Hello Friends,

As you will recall from last year’s ThatCamp Philly, I ran a session on working with students who have low technology skills. I took the wonderful information you gave me and brought it back to my own campus, where I gave a talk to our Center For Learning and Instruction about this issue (with plenty of ThatCamp references).

What followed out of this talk was a few of my colleagues organizing with me here at Burlington County College to create lectures on using technology for the student body at large. Pending administrative approval, we will be doing these starting in October.

What I propose is a session to continue our conversation from last year and also discuss how ti implement these kinds of discussions on a college-wide level can be accomplished. What do students need to know? How do you include faculty not only in your own department, but others across campus? What is the role of administration? How can they be involved?

I look forward to seeing all of you this weekend.

Session Idea: How do we make public art relevant?

The city of Philadelphia has one of the largest collections of public art in the country, but how do we take an existing resource, like Philadelphia’s preeminent collection of artwork, and make it new again?

I am the New Media Manager for the Association for Public Art (aPA, formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association). In 2010, aPA launched Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO — an innovative and accessible outdoor sculpture interpretive program for Philadelphia’s public art.  MWW:AUDIO is a “multi-platform” interactive audio experience – available for free by cell phone, audio download, or on the web. It offers the untold histories that are not typically expressed on outdoor permanent signage. Through first person, oral story telling from multiple viewpoints, the social history of public art is shared.

Although this has been a successful program, it has not been developed for every artwork/sculpture in Philadelphia. What about the sculptures that aren’t included in the program? Or, what other ways can we reconnect audiences with public art?

We recently launched “Open Air” by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer currently running nightly from 8pm-11pm on the Parkway through October 14. “Open Air” is a spectacular interactive light experience directed by participants’ voices and GPS locations, illuminating the night sky from the Parkway. How do we share the history of a temporary spectacle like this? How does its history carry on once it’s gone?

I would like to brainstorm with others about how to answer these questions. Let’s get together and come up with ways to collaborate with one another, and make relevant historical connections.

Session Proposal: Evaluating Digital Humanities Projects

How can we evaluate digital humanities projects? Funders often require some sort of evaluation, and as practitioners we want to know that we are accomplishing our project goals. Yet there are no clear measures for evaluation. Digital humanities projects don’t go through the same sort of peer review as traditional print scholarship. Evaluation is important for academic scholars wishing to build credibility for digital humanities projects within an academic portfolio and for public historians and others who wish to learn how to most effectively reach target audiences. How can we design and build effective tools for evaluation into our projects so that we can measure their scholarship, their accessibility, their impact, and more.

Session idea: Improving a Digital Teaching Portfolio

Teaching portfolios can serve myriad purposes in academia:  support for tenure cases, supplementary materials for job applications, inspiration for peers, making sense for ourselves of the big picture that we’d like to emerge out of our day-to-day just keeping up with classroom management, (lecture and other) prep, and grading. 

Putting a teaching portfolio online provides flexibility to demonstrate teaching strengths through multi-media platforms and to constantly update our materials as we change our approaches, refine our skills, teach new classes, engage new generations of students, etc.  The more our classes become dependent and connected to and through internet technologies, the more reason our portfolios should reflect that.

In this working session, we would walk through the teaching portfolio that I created in the fall of 2011 (and since have minimally updated) at , and discuss how to improve it (and hopefully come up with some ideas for your own portfolios or web-based projects in the process!)

It’s a simple site and built on wordpress.  I’m an art historian, and a complete rookie when it comes to software, coding, graphic design, you name it!  I put this site together myself, hacked away (probably for way too long) at the problems I encountered building it, and I’m looking for any and all advice about what would make it work better.

Some of the questions I’m hoping to answer:

How can I make the homepage more engaging, more of an advertisement of my teaching skills and less of an outline? (I’m on the job market presently, so if I manage to get a search committee member on the site, I want it to hook them in, not overwhelm them!)

What is useful to the various constituencies who might visit my site, and what is junky useless filler?  I.e. How can I streamline it?

Do I need to worry about (anonymously) publishing student work on the site if I haven’t received explicit permission to post it (either verbally or in writing–and does that matter)?  Does having a password to protect the site help with this — is a password necessary, and/or does it place an unnecessary barrier to access which might prevent someone who could use the information from getting to it?  What if the work is already available online (say on Youtube) but only to people who have the http?

How much is too much?  (Right now, the site is too much!)  What can I do to more effectively make the site a “teaser” to my teaching rather than a full-out (confusing) demonstration of it?

People who might want to attend this working session include: 

  • teachers looking to develop online portfolios,
  • experienced builders of offline career portfolios (for tenure or other situations),
  • present/former academic search committees,
  • web designers and programmers (especially with wordpress experience) looking to help a rookie out,
  • folks with graphic design / web design aesthetics training
  • … and anyone else who might contribute to or learn something from this conversation!

Session idea: Encouraging the use of DH in K-12 classrooms and beyond

One issue we’ve encountered in developing our digital history project relates to our target audience of grade 6-12 teachers, but it probably applies to college professors as well. We’ve found this audience has varying comfort levels with both primary source documents and technology, meaning that while some teachers certainly seek out these kinds of digital projects for their classrooms, MANY others would not.

What else could/should we be doing as a DH community to encourage teachers to use these primary-source digital resources in the classroom? This may be a simple brainstorm of existing resources that we could collect into one place, or we could begin a larger discussion about how we could cooperate regionally on trainings, print how-to manuals, or other support resources specifically focused on DH in the classroom.