Greetings from the new Regional THATCamp Coordinator!

March 23rd, 2010 |

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As announced earlier today, the Center for History and New Media has just received a very generous grant from the Mellon foundation to support the ever-increasing number of regional THATCamps. I’m more than pleased to join CHNM as the Regional THATCamp Coordinator — “thrilled” is closer to the mark.

I wanted to take this opportunity to point out that we’ve put up a very sketchy first draft of guidelines on how to host your own THATCamp. In the coming weeks I’ll be gathering much more information on that head and greatly expanding and revising that and other support documents, but for now I’d more than appreciate it if you’d add your comments to this post with suggestions for holding a successful THATCamp. I’ve already gotten a few ideas from the loyal band of Twitterers who almost make every day a THATCamp; for instance, Bethany Nowviskie of the University of Virginia Scholars’ Lab mentioned that Great Lakes THATCamp “set aside Rooms of Requirement for random/needful impromptu convo w/whomever showed.” (Bethany earns extra points for the Harry Potter reference.) Kudos to Ethan Watrall and the other Great Lakers (?) for that and, I’m sure, many other terrific innovations. I’ll do my best to gather and document all the great ideas; some kind of wiki may well be forthcoming (you’ve been warned).

I also wanted to draw special attention to the fact that Mellon’s kind assistance means that graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and pre-tenure scholars will now be eligible for micro-fellowships of $500 that will enable them to pay travel costs for attending what we’re calling “BootCamp,” a day of digital methods training that will take place in conjunction with the regional THATCamps (though not “THATCamp Prime” in Fairfax). THATCamps are very inexpensive to organize and to attend compared to most conferences, but travel expenses can be a serious burden for junior scholars and graduate students. These micro-fellowships will help introduce new and emerging scholars to digital methods, not to mention to the lively digital humanities community, which is something I for one am all in favor of.

Finally, let me urge you to write me at info@thatcamp.org if you’re even slightly interested in hosting or attending a THATCamp in your area. THATCamps keep sprouting up like mushrooms after a rain, and in addition to the seven regional THATCamps that have already been held or planned, THATCamps are or might be taking shape in the following places:

  • Canberra, Australia
  • Florence, Italy
  • Toronto, Canada
  • New England
  • Florida
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Georgia

We’re just getting started, but it’s looking like it’s going to be a great couple of years.

And one more thing: you may indeed call me THATgirl. :)

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7 Responses to “Greetings from the new Regional THATCamp Coordinator!”

  1. Jon Voss Says:

    Hey Amanda,
    This is indeed great news!

    I don’t want to be a total buzzkill, but one thing I’d (somewhat hesitantly) like to just throw out one consideration as the regional model becomes a little more formalized.

    Hierarchy seems to be a natural function of human networks. Perhaps in spite of that, I love the work, emphasis and care that CHNM has put into keeping THATcamps non-hierarchical, as mentioned in your regional guidelines. It’s certainly part of what makes it so exciting and successful–everyone has something to contribute.

    “It is also non-hierarchical: THATcamps welcome graduate students, scholars, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, developers and programmers, administrators, managers, and funders.”

    Here you’re talking about people attending THATcamp, but I wonder if we can extend that to the various THATcamps around the world themselves.

    As the idea grows and more THATcamps take place around the world, I wonder if we should avoid putting more value or import on one camp or another. This isn’t to say that some won’t be better than others for any number of factors, but I’d hate to see people competing to get to one or another because it’s deemed that one particular THATcamp is more important than another, especially when space is necessarily limited.

    On the other hand, maybe one should be more important than another and there is a place and a need for that kind of hierarchy? Maybe some people of regions do have more to contribute than others? I don’t have the answer, and only pose the question. Perhaps it will become obvious over time. Or maybe there should be regional, national, or global THATcamps? Maybe some will focus more on archivists, some on historians? Maybe it will depend if it is held in conjunction with another conference, like SAA.

    I do question whether the term THATcamp Prime captures the meaning you’re looking for with that particular gathering. Maybe it would be helpful to know how it is different than others, or how the focus might be different.

    In any case, I’m extremely grateful to have been involved in THATcamp Great Lakes this past weekend and thrilled that there are more resources available to continue these efforts.

  2. Amanda French Says:

    Hmm, thought-provoking, Jon. I remember a historian I once studied with said that “first” was a category of great economic import for the Public History biz — which is just to say that I was going to protest that our informal, kidding term “THATCamp Prime” is only meant to suggest that it was the first THATCamp, not a more important one, but I do see that even that insistence on “first” creates a hierarchy.

    For what it’s worth, I’ll say that about the only measurable difference I’m aware of between the THATCamp in Fairfax at CHNM and the burgeoning Regional THATCamps is that attendees at the latter are eligible for the newly-granted Mellon micro-fellowships, whereas THATCamp Fairfax is not. I think all the THATCamps will have rather different foci and even structure, to some extent, but certainly there’s no intent to create any kind of hierarchy.

  3. Craig Bellamy Says:

    Hello Amanda,

    I like the THATCamp concept a lot and look forward to attending my first one at King’s College in London. There are a number of us in Melbourne, Australia who may be interested in holding a THATCamp event as well.

    All the best,

    Craig

  4. Amanda French Says:

    Good to hear from you, Craig! I was thinking of you guys down in Australia the other day. I had a column in my spreadsheet for whether a THATCamp was in Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter — I thought that might be easier for people to commit to, on first registration, than a particular date. But then I remembered that our winter is your summer and vice versa, so I scrapped it. :)

    Hope you have a great time at TC London.

  5. Sigi Jottkandt Says:

    Very exciting, Amanda! I love the idea of THATCamp-in-box – it will really help us all to scale. I’m interested in working towards a Melbourne THATCamp too, Craig. Paul Ashton and I also have plenty of eager volunteers at the Writing and Publishing Programme to help you organize.

  6. Amanda French Says:

    There is a THATCamp Canberra in the works, thatcampcanberra.org, but THATCamp Melbourne would be great.

  7. George Says:

    Glad to hear the news about Mellon funding and the new position, Amanda!

    Just a quick note about (and pointer to) THATCamp RTP (@THATCampRTP, which Jade E. Davis kickstarted recently for the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill region. Plans are still evolving.

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