Archive for the ‘General’ Category

THATCamp Prime Collaborative Documents

Monday, May 24th, 2010

A number of THATCamp sessions generated collaboratively written notes, syllabi, and brainstorming documents, most frequently using Google Documents. Here’s a list of these collaborative, shared documents. Let me know what’s missing!

THATCamp Prime evaluation

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Thanks so much, all, for your participation in THATCamp this year. I personally had a great time, especially at the Data Liberation session. I’m so looking forward to the manifesto: you have no idea.

We do certainly plan to have THATCamp again next year, of course, and of course all those who are planning their own THATCamps would also be interested in your responses to the following two questions: What worked? What could use work? Let us know in the comments, or e-mail us at .

New session: The THATCamp Movement

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Jon Voss (@lookbackmaps on Twitter) asked at the end of the THATCamp Organizing / BootCamp session if we could have an extra session tomorrow on “The THATCamp Movement.” In this one, we’ll talk about the general ethos and principles of THATCamp, including issues such as how it relates to digital humanities. I’ll get Jon to comment on this post, too, to expand on what he has in mind.

THATCamp on Flickr

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

For any shutterbugs here, there is a THATCamp group on flickr – please feel free to contribute!

Visualizing Subjectivity

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

There’s been a number of posts on visualizations already, so I will add my own perspective to those who came before. Two of my chief interests in this conference are how you can make visualizations more  interactive and how we can streamline or design for multiple languages and publishing platforms at once.

A lot of digital humanities projects try to create tools and standards in processing of their respective data, whether it be a historically focused multimedia site or a literary criticism databank. Many of these projects rely on multiple stages of processing — crowdsourcing or digitization, geospatial and relational databases, logic and data mining, interface and presentation for the application of still more algorithms and application of new sources. This allows for both competition and reinvention of the wheel in many cases. When is the wheel not good enough, and when will a framework like ruby on rails become available with sufficient flexibility to allow digital humanists control over their projects without necessarily working from scratch or related but generic open source platforms?

Visualization and standards remain a topic of interest to me: Hugh Cayless proposes that we take a serious look at how new design patterns could help digital humanists develop future projects with the best practices . Visualization proposals by Daniel Chamberlain and Cornelius Puschmann suggest we should look at the new frontiers of visualization as well as re-evaluating existing applications.

When I originally submitted, I had an idea of introducing one platform’s new features and how they could impact textual scholarship and visualization. Here’s a quote from my original proposal:

Research in the digital humanities has increasingly become dependent on software visualization techniques and interface design in both the presentation and analysis of its subjects.

Adobe has released another version of AIR and the Text Layout Framework, both important contributions to the digital humanities. The second allows for a more sophisticated and clean presentation of textual data and the first allows a closer native interface with other programs and frameworks which can accomplish tasks that Flash cannot.

I’d like to start a conversation about the menagerie of visualization and processing technologies; how the ease of interface design in AIR could be tied to the powerful, expressive programming of LISP or PROLOG. The Digital Humanities is in part dependent on the strength, flexibility and appropriateness of the programming tools it uses. If the tools involve the nebulous potency of cloud computing or the proven algorithms of artificial intelligence, the idea of combining multiple platforms together and making them play well remains a direction the field is headed. AIR’s native support and its graphics-oriented language, ActionScript, provide one means of realizing this.

This sounds like quite an argument for Adobe Flash, but with platforms such as the iPad recently blackballing Adobe’s technology, we are forced to resort to multi-pronged approaches, possibly developing for multiple platforms simultaneously. The iPad has already been the source of a number of successful academic projects like the International Children’s Library released as apps and as web sites.

I’m less interested in the debate of facts such as the current legal or policy stance Adobe or Apple has taken to their respective technologies, and more interested in pragmatic solutions taking those restrictions into account.

As I understand it, the digital humanities has the potential to become a meta-discipline for the humanities and scholarship in general, where its domain incorporates, along with new media projects and data curation activities, the advancement of scholarship in many related disciplines. An excellent example of this is the sort of progressive projects like Hacking Academia which seek alternatives to the ports of existing publishing systems.

Though not a part of my original scope, I am also very interested in new approaches to game development and ways of engaging readers/players/students through games.

More Twitter Visualizations

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Since I’m on California time and wide awake, figured I’d add to the great Twitter visualizations posted by @coffee001.  The first visualization shows the relationships between Twitterer/THATCampers coming this weekend.  As this is the third THATCamp at CHNM, I’m not surprised by the density, but you can also see a lot of nodes on the periphery as the network continues to expand. Note that red lines are reciprocal “follows,” blue lines are one-way.

In-network relationships for THATCamp attendees as of May 18, 2010

The second and third visualizations are before and after the Great Lakes THATCamp in March. You can see how the events increase the density of the networks.

In-network relationships prior to first Great Lakes THATCamp, March, 2010

In-network relationships several weeks after the first Great Lakes THATCamp, April 2010

What THATCampers have been tweeting about (pre-camp)

Friday, May 21st, 2010

I thought I’d try out a few scripts I’ve hacked together on the #thatcamp hashtag to give you a very rough impression of what people have been tweeting prior to the event itself. My collection consists of about 500 tweets that cover the time span from circa the 14th of May up to tonight. Since they’re tagged with #thatcamp, my little corpus also includes conversations from people elsewhere (e.g. THATCamp Paris). I’ll do a similar analysis once the camp is over and hopefully I’ll be able to refine it with ideas from my fellow campers.

Tweets over time (roughly 14th of May to 22nd)

Most active twitterers

Most @-messaged users

Most retweeted users

Frequent words (rough)

Humanist Readable Documentation

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Technical diagrams are wonderfully compact ways of conveying information about extremely complex systems. But they only work for people who have been trained to read them. If you design a database for a historian, and then hand him or her a basic E-R or UML diagram, you will end up explaining the diagram’s nomenclature before you can talk about the database (and oftentimes you run out of time before getting back to the research question underlying the database). This removes the major advantage of technical diagrams and can also create an unnecessary divide between the technical and non-technical members of a digital humanities development team.

I have become fascinated by how documenting a project (either in development or after release) can build community. I’m not just talking about user generated documentation (ala wikis), but rather the feeling created by a diagram or README file that really takes the time to explain how the software works and why it works the way it does. There is a generosity and even warmth that comes from thoughtful, helpful documentation, just as inadequate documentation can make someone feel stupid, slighted, or unwanted as a user/developer.

As one possible solution, I have written a database schema visualization/annotation tool called DAVILA.  It is written in Processing with the toxiclibs physics library and released under GPLv3. DAVILA takes in the database’s schema and a pipe separated customization file and uses them to produce an interactive, color-coded, annotated diagram similar in format to UML.  I wrote the program to help me describe my dissertation database, but also in the hopes that it could spark a larger conversation on how to make technical diagrams accessible to non-technical people.  The project page is

Ronda Grizzle has already posted about the importance of generating basic documentation for maintenance of projects.  Perhaps those of us interested in issues of documentation could put our heads together and come up with some principles for documenting a project from start to finish.

Zen Scavenger Hunt

Friday, May 21st, 2010

This is a more playful session idea, but no less serious than anything else proposed: I’d like to hold a Zen Scavenger Hunt at some point during THATCamp.

I got the idea of a Zen Scavenger Hunt from ARG designer Jane McGonigal. A Zen Scavenger Hunt is essentially a reversed-engineered scavenger hunt. We form teams and each team goes out and finds ten or or so items and only afterward do they receive the list of the items they’re supposed to be scavenging for. The teams then have to improvise a series of hacks and demonstrations to prove that their items perfectly match the list.

How this might play out: perhaps sometime Saturday afternoon we form teams; then between the last formal session on Saturday and the first one on Sunday, the teams go out and find their items. Then sometime on Sunday the list is revealed and the teams defend their finds.

How does a Zen Scavenger Hunt relate to the digital humanities? It’s playful, process-oriented, and some locative media/GPS/geocaching could even be incorporated. And the list itself, well that will be comprised of various items relevant to the humanities…

The (in)adequacies of markup

Friday, May 21st, 2010

(Last minute session idea)

This discussion comes around every few years, most recently on the Humanist list, starting here and continuing for many posts. The essence of it is an argument over whether embedding markup (à la TEI XML) in texts is a theoretically sound way of digitally publishing texts or whether “standoff” markup that points at parts of a (probably plain text) document would be better.

Anyway, if there are any text hackers out there interested in looking at the state of play in document markup and seeing whether we can come to any useful conclusions or hack something together or make plans to hack something together, let me know.


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    All Posts

  • THATCamp Prime Collaborative Documents
  • THATCamp Prime evaluation
  • New session: The THATCamp Movement
  • THATCamp on Flickr
  • Visualizing Subjectivity
  • More Twitter Visualizations
  • Remixing Academia
  • What THATCampers have been tweeting about (pre-camp)
  • Late to the Stage: Performing Queries
  • Humanist Readable Documentation
  • Zen Scavenger Hunt
  • The (in)adequacies of markup
  • One Week, One Book: Hacking the Academy
  • Analogizing the Sciences
  • Digital Literacy for the Dumbest Generation
  • Teaching Students Transferable Skills
  • Modest Proposals from a Digital Novice
  • Creative data visualizations
  • OpenStreetMap for Mapping of Historical Sites
  • soft circuits
  • Mostly Hack…
  • A Contextual Engagement
  • ARGs, Archives, and Digital Scholarship
  • Playing With the Past: Pick One of Three
  • DH centers as hackerspaces
  • All Courseware Sucks
  • HTML5
  • Dude, I Just Colleagued My Dean
  • The Future of Interdisciplinary Digital Cultural Heritage Curriculum (oh yeah, and games as well)
  • Project "Develop Self-Paced Open Access DH Curriculum for Mid-Career Scholars Otherwise Untrained"
  • what have you done for us lately?
  • Digital Storytelling: Balancing Content and Skill
  • Visualizing text: theory and practice
  • Plays Well With Others
  • Citing a geospatial hootenanny
  • Reimagining the National Register Nomination Form
  • documentation: what's in it for us?
  • Sharing the work
  • Digital Humanities Now 2.0 and New Models for Journals
  • Finding a Successor to Paper and Print
  • "Writing Space"
  • From Scratch
  • Cultivating Digital Skills and New Learning Spaces
  • Surveying the Digital Landscape Once Again
  • Building and designing projects for long term preservation
  • Collecting the Digital Story: Omeka and the New Media Narrative
  • Design Patterns for DH Projects
  • Chronicling America: They gave us an API. What do we do now?
  • Social Media and the History Non-Profit
  • THATCamp-in-a-Box
  • Teaching Collaboration
  • Geolocation, Archives, and Emulators (not all at once)
  • The Sound of Drafting
  • The Schlegel Blitz ("Only connect…")
  • Text Mining Scarce Sources
  • Applying open source methodology and economics to academia
  • What I'd Most Like to Do or Discuss
  • Hacking ethics for edupunks
  • Mobile technology and the humanities
  • Audiences and Arguments for Digital History
  • Open Peer Review
  • Who Wants To Be A Hacker?
  • Please advise
  • Greetings from the new Regional THATCamp Coordinator!
  • 2010 Applications Open!