• Discussion topic — The Library and The Digital Scholar


    I’m wondering if Patricia Battin’s framework for the role of an academic library set in 1984 has been fully accomplished? I think we are close, but not fully there yet. Here’s a list of the functions and facilities that she listed in the article, The Electronic Library – a Vision for the Future by Patricia Battin, EDUCOM Bulletin, Summer 1984

    Our Electronic Scholar of the ’90s will find the following opportunities at the workstation:

    • On-line gateway access to the universe of knowledge
    • Bibliographic data for all printed works and machine-readable data bases and files
    • Extremely user-friendly access by natural language subject searching, keywords, titles, etc.
    • Boolean logic, call number searching, backward and forward browsing
    • Information on on-order and circulation status of documents

    In short, the capacity to rummage around in the bibliographic wealth of recorded knowledge, organized in meaningful fashion with logically controlled search:

    • Downloading capacities and local interactive manipulation of all files
    • Full-text access to databases, data files and published works also preserved on optical disks
    • High resolution graphics
    • Capacity to order off-line prints of machine readable text, facsimile transmission of journal articles identified through on-line abstracting and indexing services and/or delivery of printed publications
    • Links to printed works through on-line indexes of books, table of contents
    • Access to current scholarly output through author-supplied subject access
    • Access to on-line Pre-Print Exchange, with papers maintained on-line for six months and then purged unless refereed and preserved in an archival record according to scholarly record according to scholarly standards; the refereeing process would be coordinated by a national network of scholarly societies with accepted data sets being maintained at the home institution and entered into the national data resource — either RLIN or OCLC now linked into one national resource
    • Online access to education, training, and consulting services run by the Scholarly Information Center:
      • information on new services and access
      • technical information on hardware, software, etc.
      • tutorials and consulting services on literature structures, protocols for specialists, seminars for beginners
      • literature search services for those who don’t want to do their own

    NOTE: Used with permission of the author.

  • Now, about those session proposals….


    The fundamental tenet of the THATCamp experience is the user-generated-ness (to coin a term) of the event itself.  In other words, it’s up to you to propose the sessions, and this site is set up to help that happen. Phil Edwards has kicked us off already down below.

    How does it happen?

    Now that you’ve registered for THATCamp Virginia, we’ve make you a user account on this site. You should have received your login information by email. Before the THATCampVA, you should log in to the site, click on Posts –> Add New, then write and publish your session proposal. Your session proposal will appear on the front page of this site, and we’ll all be able to read and comment on it beforehand. (If you haven’t worked with WordPress before, see codex.wordpress.org/Writing_Posts for help.) The morning of the event, we’ll vote on those proposals (and probably come up with several new ones), and then all together we’ll work out how best to put those sessions into a schedule.

    Here’s some guidance for you when considering a session idea to post.

    In brief

    Everyone who goes to a THATCamp should propose a session. Do not prepare a paper or presentation. Plan instead to have a conversation, to get some work done, or to have fun. Also remember, try to keep the posts brief–300 words or less should be enough to give your colleagues a sense of what you’re interested in talking about, without tiring out their eyeballs.

    No papers, no presentations

    An unconference, in Tom Scheinfeldt’s words, is fun, productive, and collegial, and at THATCamp, therefore, “[W]e’re not here to listen and be listened to. We’re here to work, to participate actively.[…] We’re here to get stuff done.” Listen further:

    Everyone should feel equally free to participate and everyone should let everyone else feel equally free to participate. You are not students and professors, management and staff here at THATCamp. At most conferences, the game we play is one in which I, the speaker, try desperately to prove to you how smart I am, and you, the audience member, tries desperately in the question and answer period to show how stupid I am by comparison. Not here. At THATCamp we’re here to be supportive of one another as we all struggle with the challenges and opportunities of incorporating technology in our work, departments, disciplines, and humanist missions.

    Session proposers are session facilitators

    If you propose a session, you should be prepared to run it. If you propose a hacking session, you should have the germ of a project to work on; if you propose a workshop, you should be prepared to teach it; if you propose a discussion of the Digital Public Library of America, you should be prepared to summarize what that is, begin the discussion, keep it going, and end it. But don’t worry — with the possible exception of workshops you’ve offered to teach, THATCamp sessions don’t really need to be prepared for; in fact, we infinitely prefer that you don’t prepare.

    At most, you should come with one or two questions, problems, or goals, and you should be prepared to spend the session working on and working out those one or two points informally with a group of people who (believe me) are not there to judge your performance. Even last-minute workshops can be terrifically useful for others if you know the tool or skill you’re teaching inside and out. As long as you take responsibility for running the session, that’s usually all that’s needed. Read about the Open Space Technology approach to organizing meetings for a longer discussion of why we don’t adopt or encourage more structured forms of facilitation.

    Session genres

    1. General discussion— Sometimes people just want to get together and talk informally, with no agenda, about something they’re all interested in. Nothing wrong with that; it’s certainly a much better way of meeting people than addressing them from behind a podium. Propose a session on a topic that interests you, and if other people are interested, they’ll show up to talk about it with you.
    2. Hacking session— Several coders gather in a room to work on a particular project. These should usually take more than an hour or even two; if you propose such a session, you might want to ask that one room or swing space be dedicated to it for the entire day.
    3. Writing session— A group of people get together to start writing something. Writing can be collaborative or parallel: everyone can work together (probably in Google Docs) or by themselves (yet with a writing vibe filling the air) to write an article, a manifesto, a book, a blog post, a plan, or what you will.
    4. Working session — You’re working on something, and you suspect that some of the various people who come to THATCamp might be able to help you with it. You describe problems you want solved and questions you want answered, and strangers magically show up to hear about what you’re doing and to give you their perspective and advice. This is notan hour-long demo; you should come with specific questions or tasks you want to work on with others for most of the session.
    5. Workshop— A traditional workshop session with an instructor who leads students through a short introduction to and hands-on exercise in a particular skill. (Note: the workshop series was formerly called “BootCamp,” a term we have now deprecated. Note too that as of January 2012 the Mellon fellowship program for THATCamps with workshops has ended.) Workshops may be arranged beforehand by the organizers or proposed by a participant who agrees to teach it.
    6. Grab bag— Ah, miscellany. One of our favorite categories. Indefinable by definition. It’s astonishing how creative people can be when you give them permission; performances and games are welcome.
      • David Staley, An installation, THATCamp Prime 2009.
      • Mark Sample, Zen Scavenger Hunt, THATCamp Prime 2010 (N.B.: The Zen Scavenger Hunt didn’t actually happen, but it was still a great idea).

    Empty sessions

    We’ll do our best to provide space for additional, on-the-fly conversation. Sometimes, for instance, your discussion was going so well at the one hour fifteen minute mark that you hated to end it; if there’s a slot available, you should be able to propose “Training Robotic Ferrets: Part Two” as a session as soon as “Training Robotic Ferrets” ends.

    And yes, we know this went over 300 words.


    Info on this post shamelessly cribbed from THATCamp Texas and THATCamp.org. Because who can improve on perfection?

  • Introduction and ideas: Phil Edwards


    I’m Phil Edwards, and I’m very excited to be a part of the regional THATCampVA this year. In my day-job, I work with individual faculty members, graduate students, and departments as they think about their teaching, courses, curricula, and student learning. I earned my B.S. in Chemistry with a Minor in Mathematics (2001) from the University at Buffalo–SUNY, my M.S. in Information with a specialization in Library and Information Services (2003) from the University of Michigan, and I was a Ph.D. candidate [A.B.D.] in Information Science at the University of Washington from 2003-2010. I was a member of the faculty at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2008-2011 until I joined the Center for Teaching Excellence at Virginia Commonwealth University in July 2011. (Go Rams!)

    In terms of session ideas…
    if anyone would be interested in engaging in a conversation about some of the recent developments in (mostly-)online education (e.g., Mozilla’s Open Badges project, HASTAC’s Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition, MITx, Udacity, etc.), I’d be willing to come to the table to share in that discussion. I’m currently enrolled in the prototype MITx course, 6.002x: Circuits & Electronics, and I’ll be documenting my experiences as a student along the way. (Well, MITx 6.002x officially starts tomorrow.) Anyone interested?


  • A kid-friendly THATCamp!


    out of the nestLet’s admit it: we love THATCamps because they make us kids again. They’re like perfect sandboxes and brand-new Crayons and the first day of school combined. We get to make new friends, invite them to play with the building blocks we share — and enjoy some willful trespassing in unfamiliar fields and methodologies, all the while thumbing our noses, for a day or two, at authority: conventional conference and presentation formats, disciplinary boundaries, and those class divisions in the academy that we all know to be bogus, man. Totally bogus. (Are you going to drink your chocolate milk?)

    Inspired by past conversations about our own child-like wonder at unconferences, the shared goal of the digital humanities community to instill a maker’s ethos in the next generation (young or less young), and our perennial need for babysitting in order to attend events like this — we are declaring THATCampVA 2012 to be a kid-friendly THATCamp!

    A couple of kids in the 8- to 13-year-old age-range have already signed up to attend along with their parents — and we are both extending the deadline and opening up some extra slots to accommodate new registrants. Kids will be welcome to accompany parents or guardians at our Friday workshops (where they might especially enjoy some DIY aerial photography), as well as to attend all day on Saturday. Depending on junior THATCamper turnout, we will either let the kids self-organize some sessions of their own, or you can bring them along to the grown-up conversations you think they’ll find interesting.

    So if you were reluctant to sign up because it meant leaving the little guys at home, or if you’re excited at the chance to spend some time geeking out together on technology in the humanities — please REGISTER BY MONDAY MORNING, March the 5th.

  • The clock is ticking!


    In just a little over a week, the application period will close for THATCamp Virginia 2012! Be sure to register to attend by March 1st.


  • Workshop: Do-It-Yourself Aerial Photography


    And as promised, a description of the second workshop offered at THATCampVA on Friday, April 20. Indicate your interest when you register for THATCampVA.  From instructors Chris Gist and Kelly Johnston:

    Need aerial images for a scholarly publication or research project and can’t find any that fit your needs?  How about making your own?  Grassroots mapping is an idea that allows people to survey and map what is important to them.  People have surveyed oil spills, public demonstrations, small archaeological sites, etc.  at a scale that fits their needs by dangling cameras from balloons and kites.  They then use software to mosaic their aerial photographs into larger scenes that can be easily shared via Google Maps, Google Earth, or other digital mapping tools.

    Come learn techniques to fly your own camera, make your own mosaics and go fly a kite (or balloon in this case)!

    UPDATE: check out our post on the test flights!


  • Workshop: Neatline: Plot your course in space and time


    THATCampVA will open on Friday, April 20, with your choice of two workshops.  The first of them, on a soon-to-be-launched tool for the spatial humanities, comes from instructor David McClure (co-teaching with Eric Rochester):

    Neatline is a geo-temporal mapping application built on top of the Omeka framework that makes it possible to plot any collection of things – objects, letters, buildings, photographs, events, people, imaginative topologies – on maps and timelines. Built by the Scholars’ Lab in collaboration with the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, Neatline provides a native environment in which to represent arguments, narratives, and stories that are fundamentally rooted in space and place.

    The 2-hour workshop will start with a basic overview of the software – what it is, where it came from, the types of use-cases it’s designed to accommodate – and then move into the nitty-gritty of creating exhibits, configuring custom layouts, and plotting records on the map and timeline. The workshop will also touch on some more specialized techniques that make it possible to represent hierarchical relationships among records, create custom styles for map vectors and timeline spans, and edit the ordering of the content in an exhibit to create narratives and linear progressions.

    If you have a laptop, you’ll be able to follow along in real-time using a public webservice soon to be launched at neatline.org.

    Stay tuned for a bit more illumination on the DIY Aerial Photography workshop next week.

  • Start your engines! THATCampVA 2012 is ready to roll.


    We’re excited to say that registration is now open for approximately 75 participants at THATCampVA!  Slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, so register early.

           Register now!

    CLOSING DATE: March 1 March 5, per this update

    What’s this now?
    You know! A regional THATCamp.


    THATCampVA will be held on Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, 2012. Friday will open at 3:00 with your choice of two-hour workshops, one focusing on DIY Aerial Photography and the other on the newly-launched Neatline.  And then on Saturday the THATCampVA unconference itself, with sessions generated by the participants, will be held 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Opportunities for social time with friends old and new will be available on Friday night, April 20, at nearby establishments.

    Charlottesville, Virginia (at UVA Library’s Scholars’ Lab)

    Organizers include digital humanities folks from UVA, Mary Washington, and other central Virginia institutions — but this is your unconference!

    Anybody with energy and an interest in the humanities and/or technology should attend: graduate students, scholars, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, developers and programmers, administrators, managers, and funders; people from the non-profit sector, the for-profit sector, and interested amateurs.  We say any- and everybody, and especially those who would find this interesting but who may never have been to a THATCamp or anything like it before.

    Questions in the meantime? Email us!

    Look here for more news soon — and follow us at @THATCampVA.

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