THATCamp CHNM 2013 The Humanities and Technology Camp Thu, 03 Apr 2014 15:36:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Thanks for a phenomenal THATCamp! Wed, 12 Jun 2013 17:21:34 +0000

Thanks again for a terrific THATCamp. If you haven’t already, please do fill out at least the first two fields of our evaluation, and if you can afford it, please donate something to help cover our costs. See you next year…

Astro Tag: Crowdsourcing Description of Images from Digitized Books Sat, 08 Jun 2013 19:42:01 +0000

In the last session we took the metadata games app pulled in a bunch of images from astronomy books up on project gutenberg (It’s easy to find the image files in their books) and stood it up as a way to crowdsource identification of images from these books. Read about metadata games here. In the session our group worked up some details on how this might work more broadly, but we were actually able to stand the thing up with metadata games as the beginnings of a proof of concept.

Here it is and it totally kinda works!

Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 3.42.33 PM

Kurt Luther’s Demo instance of AstroTag

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Book House: DH Publishing as Living Space Sat, 08 Jun 2013 19:32:56 +0000

As part of the Powerpoint Unhinged challenge, Matt Gold, Zach Coble and myself have put together a presentation/performance based on a title by Matt Gold.

We’ll see how it goes.

Maker Challenge: Story Study v.1.0 Sat, 08 Jun 2013 18:22:23 +0000

For the Maker Challenge, I began an Omeka archive named Story Study.  As part of my graduate studies at Kean University in New Jersey, I am researching fairy literature and folklore in order to produce a fantasy fiction manuscript which explores and celebrates the motifs we so enjoy in storytelling today.  The biggest challenge to my research is that resources seem few and far between–not at all rare, but scattered across print and digital mediums, and tucked away in larger, general archives such as the Library of Congress.

Story Study would be an ambitious attempt at cataloging everything fairy and folktale into one massive database, much like what has been accomplished with the fairy tale section of Amalia, the German-based encyclopedia.  Included in the archive would be digitized artwork, manuscripts, essays, poems, and much more–including a detailed collection of the Aarne-Thompson-Uther classification index that stratifies tales by type, theme and motif.  Other future possibilities may be biographical accounts of important persons in the field.  My short term goal is to maintain a place to compile my research, but I aspire to make this into a hub of fairy and folk literature resources that is both intuitive and creative.

Please favorite kindly! <3

Maker Challenge: Honor Thy Contributors Omeka Plugin Sat, 08 Jun 2013 18:06:12 +0000

In the rich soup that is digital humanities, there are a few ingredients that lend a special flavor. One of these is collaboration: far from being taboo, collaboration is the encouraged mode of working. Another ingredient is open source: we borrow and build on each other’s code and data to make even more interesting things. A third ingredient—one we haven’t quite added enough of—is credit. Digital humanists believe that everyone who contributed to a project should get full and fair credit.

These DH values are the impetus behind my contribution to the maker challenge: a plugin for Omeka called Honor Thy Contributors.

Honor Thy Contributors is intended for Omeka sites that have multiple collaborators who have added items to the project. It extends the Omeka open-source platform. It’s primary feature is to give credit to the contributors by making transparent what each person’s contribution is.

The plugin finds out the names of the people who have contributed and how many records they have added to the database, with a link to all those records. It displays that information in a table on a page, and adds a link to that page to the public navigation. Here is an example from the American Converts Database:


The plugin lets you edit the title, the URL slug, and the text before and after the table of contributors.


For now the plugin uses a method to calculate the number of contributions that is convenient for the way we do things at the American Converts database, but I’m currently working on an update that makes it more congenial to the way things are done on every Omeka database, especially sites that use the excellent Contribution plugin.

The code is on GitHub. Check out the develop branch for ongoing development, but download the stable version from the master branch. Here is the link to a ZIP file of version 0.1.1, the working version as of the Saturday afternoon of THATCamp. Once the plugin is sufficiently tested I’ll send it to the good folks at Omeka for public display.

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Repository of Historical Scale models for 3D printing Sat, 08 Jun 2013 18:00:44 +0000

I propose a site like for scale models of historical objects. Like the Aurora History Boutique, but you can print the items, rather than buy them.

Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 1.51.45 PM

Buy a copy for $400 or print one of pennies on the dollar.


Perhaps not even a separate site, but use thingiverse, but encourage and develop a set of tags and/categories that raise the awareness of historical scale models.

Cause honestly, this is what we want, scale representations of dinosaurs!


Using D3 to Visualize Learning D3 Sat, 08 Jun 2013 17:30:29 +0000

a little somethin'

I created this visualization using D3.  I’d never even used HTML before yesterday (Patrick Murray-John can attest that I was asking him how to get started).  So, no real labels yet.  My hope is to eventually use visualizations to play with concepts.

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The THATCamp Google Docs Archive Ebook Sat, 08 Jun 2013 17:03:46 +0000

Over the last 3 years I have been the unofficial keeper of the THATCamp Google Documents folder. After each THATCamp I could keep track of, I tried to collect all the Google Docs available publicly into a public folder. Later I began to archive them as a zip file to avoid losses from people accidentally moving the items out of the folder.

With this THATCamp’s move to Participad it seems like Google Docs will become a thing of the past. But the years of notes, links, ideas, session proposals and generally nifty stuff are still out there, and it would be a shame if they were lost to the shift of tools.

So, using Sigil, I’m taking the entire current store of Google Docs from THATCamps and converting them into an organized, sorted eBook.

That eBook will include all the notes that I have access to, as well as the two Twitter Archives I maintain control of. It will be free, easy to download and ready to become the next big reference book on your Kindle.

So vote for this project below and perhaps you’ll get a iOS bookshelf version too. 😉

Here’s the eBook, version 0.5, EPUB Edition: THATCamp the Google Docs Archive | Read it in your browser right now!

Maker Challenge: THATCamp Poetry Experience Sat, 08 Jun 2013 16:42:16 +0000

Hey everyone! Here is my post for the Maker challenge!

I was really inspired by the limericks that everyone shared for the first session so I created a website that shares all of the poetry that I have written for THATCamp. It is all written about my experiences at the camp!

I am still working on it, since it is still going on. But here is the link:

thatcamp poetry


Please vote for me! 🙂

Maker Challenge: WordPress plugin for displaying related items from the DPLA Sat, 08 Jun 2013 16:17:50 +0000

My entry for the Maker Challenge is WP DPLA, a WordPress plugin for displaying related items from the Digital Public Library on your blog posts.

The DPLA has lots of cool content, and WP DPLA is a way to help your readers discover and explore that content. It takes the tags you’ve assigned to your post – say, cheesehead and Packers or pizza, beer, and nachos – and fetches four random items from DPLA’s partner collections, and displays them at the bottom of the post.

WP DPLA in action

WP DPLA in action

The plugin has a couple of nifty features:

  • Getting an API key from DPLA requires sending a cURL request. WTF, you say? The WordPress plugin has a button that’ll send the request for you, and a handy form where you can enter the API key when you’ve gotten it via email.
  • For the sake of variety, the items will cycle. But for the sake of speed and efficiency, they don’t cycle on every pageview – only every five minutes.
  • Don’t want items at the bottom of your posts? There’s a Settings page in the Dashboard where you can turn the feature off, and use the bundled sidebar widget instead.

Check out the plugin in action at the demo site (click through to individual posts). The code is hosted on Github (if you clone the repo, make sure you init and update the submodules). And if you’d like a zip download to try on your own WordPress blog, download it here.

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Maker Challenge: Omeka plugin — Update plugins from admin Sat, 08 Jun 2013 15:58:39 +0000

People have requested a way to update plugins from the admin side of Omeka for a while. This approach takes a round-about approach, depending on GitHub.


In the dashboard, you now have a panel like this


The “Update plugins” page gives:


Click Update….aaaaannnndddd…..



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Maker Challenge: Introducing Moby Schtick Sat, 08 Jun 2013 15:41:19 +0000

Rob Delaney and Moby Dick, together at last

Introducing my entry into the THATCamp Maker Challege: Moby Schtick, a Twitter bot that randomly mashes up tweets from comedian Rob Delaney (“the funniest person on Twitter”) with passages from his favorite novel, Moby-Dick (“the funniest book about sperm whales”).

Be forewarned, this bot is NSFW (Not Safe for Whaling).

Sample tweets:

Maker Challenge: Working Group for Digital Historians Sat, 08 Jun 2013 15:37:26 +0000

In an effort to make a space for digital historians to communicate and collaborate, I created a “Commons in a Box” site:

Maker Challenge: Visualizing Promotions in the U.S. Navy, 1798-1849 Sat, 08 Jun 2013 13:55:37 +0000

In American naval history, officer promotions have gotten a lot of offhanded comments but little substantive analysis (one exception I just found: Waiting for Dead Men’s Shoesby Donald Chisholm, a book I look forward to reading at greater length). The commonplace assertion is something like this: After the War of 1812, it became almost impossible for midshipmen to get promoted up the ranks, and even if they did get promoted, the time to promotion was excessively long. This trend continued throughout the 1820s into the 1830s and ’40s. 

I’ve always been intrigued by these assertions, since the evidence to back them up is always anecdotal. But the resources to test the hypothesis are actually available online, for free, from the Naval Historical Center. A few months ago, I created a data set based on the NHC’s documents that included dates of promotion for every single officer in the navy from 1798 to 1849. You can read about that here. But I didn’t have the technical expertise to do the analysis I wanted to do.

Enter my collaborator, Lincoln. This weekend, he did the data analysis and created some graphs in R to show exactly what was happening in the navy regarding promotions. You can find the guts of his work here.

Time to Promotion

We decided that a box-and-whiskers graph would be the best way to display the results of the analysis. So here are two graphs: Time to Lieutenant and Time to Captain.

What we see in these graphs does not exactly follow the commonplace assertions. It is obvious that pre-War of 1812 officers got promoted much more quickly than their post-War of 1812 counterparts. Thus far the commonplace holds.

But what does not hold so well is the idea that the trend of long waits was ever-increasing. In fact, the midshipmen who entered after the War of 1812 received promotion more quickly than those who entered during the war. In fact, by the cohort of 1835, the time to promotion has been reduced by 10 years. Notice also that the cohorts become more tightly knit: fewer outliers and a lesser variance among the main group.

There may be several explanations for these phenomena. First, in a much larger field of candidates, such as the cohort of midshipmen who joined during the War of 1812, one would expect a wider variance, resulting in a longer time to promotion. The midshipmen of the War of 1812 became the peacetime lieutenants and captains of the slave-trade blockade, the commerce protection, and the diplomatic missions to East Asia. None of those duties had the makings of quick promotions–no daring, no battles, no glorious victories. Nevertheless, the long waits for promotion for these men did not necessarily mean equally long waits for the next cohort.

The more tightly knit groups of the later years indicate, I believe, a more concerted effort at standardization and professionalization.

Possibility of Promotion

The other piece of the commonplace, that it was almost impossible to get promoted, can be framed a different way: What percentage of the total midshipmen received promotions all the way up to captain?

Again, the charts tell a story not quite in line with the general assumptions.




As you might expect, attrition of midshipmen in the War of 1812 is quite high. One would expect that, since many joined the navy during war but didn’t want a career of it.

You can see, though, from the midshipmen-to-lieutenant chart, that in the later years, close to half of the midshipmen were promoted to lieutenant. This is remarkable for various reasons which are probably too complicated to go into here, but suffice to say, it’s not the impression that one might get from reading a history of the navy in the 1830s and 1840s.

Fulfilling the Maker Challenge

So, how does this data and analysis fulfill the maker challenge?

I think doing analysis using data crunching and visualization is one of the most exciting features of digital humanities for a historian. This is a different sort of Maker Challenge entry from some of the others. It’s something that’s going to be useful for my future research, and I am looking forward to continuing to work with this data and push back on more commonplace assertions in the field.

The Challenge entry wouldn’t be complete without mentioning my collaborator again–Lincoln Mullen. He’s the one who wrote the scripts and made the pretty graphs.

Maker Challenge: Zotero Bibliography Sat, 08 Jun 2013 12:22:52 +0000

Taking my existing bibliographical information (currently stored in a Google doc) and plugging it into Zotero. I can't provide a link.

Updated to add:

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Maker Challenge: More challenge silliness: 3d rendered model of the CHMN logo Sat, 08 Jun 2013 04:32:17 +0000

In honor of the fun 3d workshops today, I present the CHMN logo in glorious 3d.  (Or 2d screenshots here)   I’d like to note that the UVA has their SHANTI group, named in part for the Buddhist virtue of patience and forbearance.  Anyone wishing to cultivate these virtues is encouraged to do 3d modeling on an iPad…

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Maker Challenge: THATCamp CHNM Comic Sat, 08 Jun 2013 01:06:51 +0000

I'll admit it, what I spent my day creating is completely useless, but it was fun to make! Click the link to get to the full five page comic.

<a href=""></a>


To make this, I used an ipad and its camera, the app called Comic Life, and dropbox. The whole flow is easier on a computer than an ipad, but it was fun to see if I could do the whole thing on the fly.

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Maker Challenge: contract repository! Fri, 07 Jun 2013 23:47:32 +0000

So I did it: I made a beta of a contract repository. It’s a work in progress, but check it out, free your contracts by contributing them, and leave suggestions in the comments. Oh, and favorite this if you want to vote for it in the Maker’s Challenge!

For some context, see my earlier post pleading for assistance. My hope is that this prototype can be developed into something that will be more robust once I find an institutional partner to spearhead it.

Hooray for Participad – how to install on our own sites? Fri, 07 Jun 2013 11:53:26 +0000

Like many THATCampers, I’m delighted to see Participad running on (yay Boone & Amanda and everyone who made this happen!) Now we can create collaboratively-authored documents inside WordPress without Google Docs (or our friends at the National Security Agency). If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check it out at

But Participad is a bit of a challenge to install. See and  I did not succeed in getting it running on my own self-hosted site a year ago, and would like to collaborate with others who are trying to do the same.

Getting from Mason Inn to Research Hall Fri, 07 Jun 2013 11:22:19 +0000

Toolkit for THATCamp newbies, Dreambook edition Fri, 07 Jun 2013 08:57:48 +0000


As an academic researcher, teacher and writer in Religious Studies with an avid interest in comparative magic, I earnestly embrace the concept of co-creation.

My goal for this weekend is to come away with a working knowledge of digital humanities fundamentals. I thought it might be useful to propose a session for those of us who are new to the field, in which expertise and knowledge is shared so as to create a toolkit of essentials for use in our research, teaching and writing. My interests are very specific: I am building a new project, and I want to know, step by step, piece by piece, how to proceed. Here are my building materials.

Dreambook number one

Dreambook number one

Dreambook number 2

Dreambook number  two


Dreambook number three

Dreambook number three

These items are images of Dreambooks. The actual books are held publicly in various library collections and some are in my personal collection. Dreambooks are a kind of text from the African American magical tradition known as Hoodoo. Their main function is to increase gambling luck, so they may be considered magical objects, as well as sacred books. With alphabetical lists of objects and situations found in dreams, their interpretations, and an arcane numerological system of prediction, Hoodoo dreambooks, which originated in late nineteenth century America, came into prominence for playing policy, an illegal (and now obsolete) lottery once popular in urban African American communities. They are significant in that they provide a lens into a kind of indigenous magical tradition in the United States that can be dated, located, and followed over time, and they provide insights into culture-specific interpretations of local and folklorized forms of metaphysical practices and ideas.

(As with many things magical, I have found, they also work.)

My question: how might I turn these materials into a dh project? Should I build an archive of these books? How should I treat the texts? How might I organize them? What can be gleaned from these materials so as to create a viable, academic, publishable project? Where do I begin? What do I need to know? And most importantly, before venturing out into a project like this, what are the most important tools that I need to possess?






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What Can Digital Humanities Do for Entry Level Job Searches? Fri, 07 Jun 2013 03:28:43 +0000

…or, I don’t know, the digital humanities adjacent…?

I’m interested in having a fairly broad discussion about the connection between the university and a graduate’s entry level job hunt in the context of technology; what advice can I offer, what should we be teaching, and what tools and resources can I suggest?

I am particularly interested in exploring digital tools used in applying to jobs, presenting resumes or resume-type information, and online portfolios. I would also love to hear from those that have been hiring managers or have been on hiring committees to know what they look for in entry level applicants and how they would like written and digital materials to appear. I suppose I would also like to have a discussion about when and where job hunting skills and etiquette should come into play; for example, learning to save work samples or write down accomplishments are not things that all students know to do. Some students graduate and have no idea how to write a cover letter or resume; should that be woven into classroom assignments or left to career services and the internet? As far as actually creating something, I’ve thought about pitching workshops to career services or creating a digital repository for information that career services does not provide but those are not terribly concrete ideas at this point.

Those are just a few thoughts that I have had. I’m very open to hearing advice, opinions, concerns, and questions from across the board; let me know what you think as a student, a teacher, an administrator, an employer, etc. I also look forward to hearing from people of all technology skill levels as well.

I am coming at this from the perspective of an entry level job seeker myself and also a graduate student in the Higher Education Administration program at GMU. No matter what part of higher education I end up working in, I want to be able to give my students good advice and suggest relevant digital tools for their job searches. I’m not the most tech-savvy person in the world, but I am happy to share the bits of knowledge that I have.

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Transcribathon – Citizen Archivist Sessions Fri, 07 Jun 2013 01:45:59 +0000

We hope you’ll join the team from the Innovation Office of the National Archives to learn more about the Citizen Archivist Dashboard and take part in a transcribathon!

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 9.01.26 PM

For the first Transcribathon session (Friday @ 11 am) we’ll do a quick overview of the dashboard and walk you through the National Archives Transcription Pilot and then we’ll get to transcribing!

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 9.15.34 PM

In addition to the documents already on the site, we’ve uploaded Harriet Tubman Davis Widow’s Pension File — all 112 pages of it! — just for the event.  It’s a fascinating document and we hope you can help us make it more accessible.

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 9.31.01 PM

For the second Transcribathon session (Friday @ 1:30 pm), we’ll do a quick overview of the Citizen Archivist Dashboard and demo how to tag in our online catalog and National Archives records in Flickr.  We imagine this session to be a bit more freestyle – you can tag, transcribe, or try out another project on the dashboard.  We’ll answer your questions and assist you as you try out the tools.

We love feedback — let us know on this post or in person!

where is DH scholarship on the web? Thu, 06 Jun 2013 20:01:33 +0000

<a href="" target="_blank">Digital Humanities Now</a> and the <a href="" target="_blank">Journal of Digital Humanities</a> are experimental publications that aim to surface digital humanities scholarship from the open web and highlight work that moves the field forward. But where is this work and how can we discover it? We have a particular editorial and technical method, but are there other possibilities?

It seems fitting to invite an open conversation at THATCamp about how these publications run and what you think we're missing. Are there additional methods or sources we could use to monitor the field and discover non-textual work in particular? Do you have any feedback or suggestions for how we can improve these publications? This could turn into a "what's up with DHNow and JDH" session or we could think broadly about where DH scholarship is and how we find it (and build on it, review it, reference it, etc.). I look forward to the conversation!

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Collaboration Across Institutional Boundaries Thu, 06 Jun 2013 19:46:10 +0000

I’d like to propose a discussion session on the whole issue of collaboration across institutions.  William Pannapacker recently wrote in the Chronicle about the potential value of creating partnerships between research institutions and teaching colleges.  He mentions one good example as his starting point. There are other kinds of examples such as the collaboration between Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore.  What are the best examples out there and why have they worked?  What are the impediments to creating cross institutional projects and alliances and how are they best negotiated?  Can such collaborations grow organically, from the ground up so to speak, through small scale collaborations between individual researchers, or do they require institutional level initiatives on a much larger scale?  If there are collaborations between small colleges and large universities, how can we make sure that the institutional cultures, visions, and priorities of the smaller players are equal partners in the project?  How are cross-institutional projects of any sort best sustained over time so that they don’t die off once individual faculty members go in different directions.

I am in the process of working on a collaborative venture with Harrisburg University and my own institution, Messiah College.  We are hoping to bring together a number of different institutions in the Central PA region–the strong liberal arts colleges in the regions, state cultural institutions, possibly Penn State regional campuses–on larger scale Digital Humanities work than we can accomplish working in isolation.  I’m hoping there will be others interested in discussing what has worked or might work or wouldn’t work during the course of such a venture.

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Digital storytelling for humanists Thu, 06 Jun 2013 19:37:13 +0000

Long long ago….
Once upon a time…

Digital storytelling is buzzy right now, and I think it would be interesting to gather and talk about what that means for the way humanists communicate with the public. This could be in terms of personal or organization branding or presenting research. I’d also like to dig into why scholars revert to common narratives and how thinking with the lens of storytelling can disrupt those narratives for better(?) engagement. There’s an increasing number of storytelling tools (Cowbird and Backspacesto name two) that are circulating as ways for people to tell their own digital transmedia stories. So how do scholars take this into account in how they present themselves and their work?

I propose a session in two parts. First, talk about what’s out there, how ideas of digital storytelling can/cannot help scholars communicate, and then a second part where individuals or groups put together their own short digital stories. At the end we could share the stories around a campfire (or maybe just circle around a screen with this).

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Friending and favoriting — try it out Thu, 06 Jun 2013 15:56:05 +0000

Our deified developer, <a href="/author/boone-gorges">Boone Gorges</a>, has rolled out some terrific updates for just this morning. Notably, when you are logged in to this site, you will be able to Befriend people and to Favorite posts. We're going to use that Favoriting function to collect votes for the <a href="/challenge">Maker Challenge</a>, but it'll also be useful for putting together the schedule tomorrow morning. So, if you read a post you like, be sure to log in and Favorite it! We'll be able to see on the backend how many Favorites each post has gotten. (This'll also help us build the Proceedings of THATCamp this summer.)

Go forth and favorite. 🙂

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Mulling Over Markdown Thu, 06 Jun 2013 14:02:08 +0000

Do Dhers use Markdown? Created by John Gruber in 2004, Markdown is an easy to use text-to-HTMl markup language, one that’s instantly readable on the page and, when pushed through a dingus, becomes beautiful web-friendly prose. I was recently converted to Markdown through the evangelizing efforts of Brett Terpstra and Merlin Mann, and now all of my notes and first drafts are written using the MultiMarkdown syntax in Sublime Text 2. I’ve discovered that writing in Markdown allows me to organize my notes on the fly and, when I’m writing, sloughs off all of the pretensions that come with most writing apps and forces me to just get words down on the page. I’m still a beginner when it comes to living and working in a plain-text world, but if there are any Markdown gurus out there who’d like to come and share their expertise, I’d really appreciate it. I’d also be willing to introduce people to the syntax, if this post has sparked your interest.

Tips and Tricks for 21st-Century Research and Writing Thu, 06 Jun 2013 13:46:07 +0000

As a complement our discussions about new forms of scholarship and scholarly publication, I’d like to propose a session about how digital tools are already transforming the academic production of knowledge. Despite recent transformations, I think most scholars in the humanities still follow a research and writing model that goes back at least a hundred years:

1.) Collect information
2.) Organize information
3.) Write scholarship

As a history graduate student knee-deep in dissertation research, I’ve been surprised how little my advisors and my peers’ reflect upon their method. I suspect that their approaches to steps two and three have changed very little in the past twenty years. For most, Microsoft Word and notecards still seem to be the “tools of the trade,” with perhaps a nod to citation software (Zotero/EndNote) and data backups (DropBox).

In this session, I’d like to discuss how 21st century scholars should approach both the organizing process and (on good days) the writing process as well. Everyone has their own system I’m sure; this would be an opportunity to share our tips and tricks. How do people fit their messy data –archival photos, interview transcripts, and odd notes– into searchable databases? Or do they? Have people ditched Word for plain-text files or Scrivener? Do people hide their data away on their personal drives, or publish it online? When are digital tools helpful, and when are they just, well, fiddling? Hopefully our conversation will generate some useful guides and blog posts.

Thursday Evening: Drinks and Conversation at the Mason Inn Thu, 06 Jun 2013 13:31:57 +0000

In anticipation of the terrific sessions proposed, I’d like to suggest that those who would like to start conversations this evening stop by the Mason Inn’s The Well for drinks and conversation.  6:00?

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The (non-textual) Future of Digital Humanities Thu, 06 Jun 2013 13:26:47 +0000

After reading Fred’s proposal about R (and now Lincoln’s about scripting languages), I’ve been thinking about how much DH is focused on the analysis of text. This is understandable, given the interests and backgrounds of most people involved in the community, but I’d like to have a discussion of other areas in which community members are interested and are producing innovative work. This could include a conversation about trends and new directions in DH, which would be great for us newbies who are trying to get a sense of where this field is headed.

I can think of a few non-textual areas that seem to get a fair share of attention. That would be with geographical information and images, with Trevor’s proposal as an example of the latter. Is anyone doing work that’s even more original? Two more examples that come to mind are William Turkel’s work with sound and Kathryn Tomasek’s with financial information, though the latter might fit more into the text-centric mold. Regardless, if you’re working on an original project, non-textual or otherwise, let’s meet and share. We might discover new directions to take DH.

Of course, we should also talk about the technologies that are driving our new projects. What programming language or application are you using? Have you had success with an application that hasn’t had much attention?

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Working Group for Digital Historians Thu, 06 Jun 2013 13:15:50 +0000

THATCamp offers a gathering of individuals from many disciplinary and professional backgrounds, and that mix of experiences is one of the things that make it such a great opportunity for collaboration. But, so much work in the digital humanities is driven forward by literary and media studies, I’d like to propose that the historians in the crowd take an hour to talk about ways to form a loose affiliation of those individuals who share our disciplinary commitments and questions.

I think it might make sense to strengthen/create some channels that will let us share questions and methods with others historians (academic, public, independent, and enthusiast). I’m not sure that the outcome of this session might be: a working group? a group blog? an aggregator of conference sessions and meeting events? What do you think we need to grow the sense of community and innovation among digital historians?

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Blogs in the classroom Thu, 06 Jun 2013 03:08:12 +0000

I would be interested in having a conversation about using blogs to enhance student engagement with course material. How do you use blogs? For research? For reflection? What has/has not worked for you (or: what would you like to do with a blog?)? What skills can blogs help students develop? Is the class blog an intermediate step in some larger project or is it the final product? What is its relationship to other assignments? If there is interest, we can extend the discussion to the use of other social media in the classroom, e.g., Twitter.

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Distant, Close, Big, Small: Rethinking the Scale of Things Thu, 06 Jun 2013 02:37:32 +0000

In the digital humanities we often talk about distant reading and big data. In the more traditional humanities we often talk about close reading and the importance of small details. But it seems to me that both approaches to cultural material—distant, close, big, small—fail to reckon with what it means to change the scale of things.

The premise of this proposal is that changing the scale of something is one of the most transformative modes of producing knowledge. I’m thinking of actual, visual scale. Imagine a short passage from literature, blown up to fill an entire poster board, which students take turns annotating. The words in the story, once lost in a sea of text, become a separate entity, manipulable in an entirely new tactile way. Or take a panel from a graphic novel or a historical photograph, and zoom, zoom, zoom using a document camera. What do we see now that wasn’t there before?

As I said, I’m thinking of visual scale, but certainly there are other magnitudinal changes to consider. The size of a textual corpus is another obvious scale adjustment, but what about the other senses, like touch or sound? I’m drawn personally to theorizing closeness—to seeing the world in a grain of sand—but it’s just as crucial to rethink the distant and far.

In this session we’d discuss tools and techniques for changing the scale of things, what changing the scale of things means for teaching and research, and in general strive to move beyond the binary distinction between distant and close in order to think about scale in new and inventive ways.


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Talking about challenges and competitions for local and broad innovation Thu, 06 Jun 2013 00:21:58 +0000

I’d meant to blog about this following the talk at WebWise about competitions, but sadly never did it. So I’ll try to redeem myself here.

Challenges/Competitions, much like THATCamp Prime’s own Maker Challenge, are a great way to facilitate open and wacky innovation.

Anyone want to talk about experiences or ideas with them? What works and what doesn’t? Best practices for them to get the most out of them? Ideas or plans to take away to implement one locally?

Let’s see if coders and organizers can get together to put together some principles and ideas for how to make these things work on whatever scale.




Tools and Tactics for Advocacy and Outreach Wed, 05 Jun 2013 23:18:45 +0000

N.B.: I began this post before seeing John Glover‘s Shock and Awe proposal. These could easily be combined.

For those lucky enough to have jobs that directly relate to the Digital Humanities, whether you’re working in academia, museums, libraries, or archives, part of your job is to advocate to the unconvinced. While those that created the position may have seen the importance of digital work– or were at least keeping up with trends and understand that DH is the new hotness– many of your colleagues may be less convinced.

We have to find ways to advocate to those in our fields about the advantages of digital work– and persuade them to invest time, money, and energy into digital projects. Likewise, we have to reach out to our audiences and get them to use our digital tools and resources.

I’d like to propose a discussion on best practices for advocacy and outreach. What do you find helps convince your institutions to get onboard with projects you can’t do alone? How do you shift institutional inertia and get people to work together who may be skeptical about DH projects? How do you raise awareness of your projects when they’re ready to go live? How do you convince people outside your institution that it’s worth investing energy and time into your projects?

I see this as a wide-ranging and rather loose conversation, an opportunity people to share across disciplinary, institutional, and other boundaries about what has worked for them, what has not, and why they think that is. Topics might include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • How do you persuade the curatorial department of your museum to do the extra work so that your online exhibit might be more than just an online version of the physical exhibit?
  • How do you talk to fellow academics who are inveterately analog when you feel they might benefit from DH approaches?
  • How do you convince an archive that textual records are important to digitize too– not just the photos that drive a lot of hits?
  • How do you work to gain the trust and efforts of a community to contribute materials for an online archive, transcription project, etc?
  • Twitter: is it really useful for outreach, or are you just preaching to the choir?
  • How do you weigh the need to do advocacy and outreach against the needs to actually produce scholarship/tools/databases/etc?
  • Is there ever going to be an end to “What is the Digital Humanities and…” panels at every conference? Is it better to integrate DH scholarship with the rest of the group or to put DH at center stage?
  • How do you reach out to other comparable institutions so they know about your projects, and perhaps either send interested parties your way or even collaborate?

…This may not be a super-groundbreaking topic– it’s something we’ve all talked about amongst ourselves. But I think it’s one of those perennial discussions we have to keep having as we all navigate a fairly new and frequently-shifting landscape.

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Shock & Awe, Business Cards, and the DH Elevator Pitch Wed, 05 Jun 2013 21:26:02 +0000

We all have to summarize research, promote ourselves, and win over indifferent audiences, but how do we do all of those things simultaneously when our listeners don’t understand our aims or vocabulary? Elevator pitches are about presenting a product or idea, using a distilled message to make a sale or win over a key player, but summarizing DH for people used to authority and concision can be a challenge.

I’d like to talk about good approaches to advocating effectively and quickly for DH, whether talking with the general public, administrators, or potential donors. I think doing DH in the open means, at least right now, not just putting files online, ensuring public access, going CC, etc.: I think we have to be able to communicate to the people who don’t come knocking at our door. I categorized this as a “Talk” session, but depending on who’s interested, we might want to play around with practice pitches + instant feedback, or role playing. Here are some conversation sparks:

Shock & Awe. What are some of our favorite phrases or facts for talking about the power or breadth of digital humanities approaches? How about sharing our favorite sites or apps to showcase on phone or tablet?

Business Cards. How do you represent yourself–DH first, middle, or last? Do you use any jargon? Do you give people formal business, cards, informal cards, share your Twitter handle?

If you’re at an institution without a huge DH presence, or you’re meeting with someone who’s not that interested in it, how do you demonstrate the value of DH? What are some good strategies to use when your Provost/Dean/Principal/Lead asks why you haven’t produced a monograph (or three) yet?

Finally, why do I care about this? I’m a librarian, and while I work with students and faculty “doing” DH, I also work with people who have varying levels of awareness of it, or who might be interested but have little time to find an entry point. Maybe most of all, I want to be able to speak more effectively with people who are interested in contributing time, money, or energy to DH efforts, but who need convincing.

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Let’s Make a (Book) Deal Wed, 05 Jun 2013 19:53:25 +0000

Updated for THATCamp CHNM session on Sat June 8th, 2013, 11am – 12:30pm

Here’s the deal: I’ll teach two key stages of creating a book with open-source WordPress tools, and in turn, will ask participants to post an idea or comment on our open-access book-in-progress, Web Writing: Why & How for Teaching & Learning, sponsored by Trinity College (CT). Sign up to receive free temporary admin account for hands-on PressBooks tutorial.

See demonstration of two tools in WordPress workflow:

  • CommentPress for developmental editing of draft texts at book, page, and paragraph-level
  • PressBooks for publishing across multiple formats (web, PDF, Kindle and ePub readers)

Both tools can run on self-hosted WordPress sites (not, see basics here

See how it works page for system requirements, how to install back-end, and comparisons

Hands-on tutorial with PressBooks temp admin accounts to upload content & create your own book

What works, and what could be improved, with PressBooks? Login & share thoughts on notepad

How can authors and publishers work together to use these tools? See Anvil Academic example

Invitation: shape direction of Web Writing book by sharing essay idea or commenting on others

* * * * * * * *
Original session proposal, June 5th: This scholarly communication session idea expands on Sarah Werner’s proposal on building a repository of publishing contracts, and Joan Troyano’s suggestion to brainstorm new ways to publish humanities scholarship. Can we make a deal to learn from one another? In the spirit of legendary game show host Monty Hall, choose one of these doors to see what you can win at this session:

Door #1: Negotiating with Publishers about Paywalls and Open Access: I have more questions than answers on this topic, and would love to learn more from others’ experiences (see Sarah Werner, Working with a Contributor’s Contract). But in my view, scholars need better negotiating skills as publishers  continue to reposition themselves with respect to the web, and that means (1) understand the motivations of other parties and (2) know your next best option than the one you’re facing at that particular moment. A THATCamp discussion with rich examples might benefit from by my public dialogues with open-access publishers Anvil Academic and my recent exchange with Michigan Publishing/University of Michigan Press, in addition to correspondence, contracts, and reflections in the “how this book evolved” section of Writing History in the Digital Age (co-edited with Kristen Nawrotzki).

Door #2: Hands-on Tutorial with PressBooks: Looking for better digital publishing tools? Hugh McGuire and colleagues recently released the open-source PressBooks plugin for WordPress Multisite, which transforms your content into polished publications for multiple readers: PDF for print, web-book for online reading, Mobi for Kindle, ePUB for iBooks, Nook, etc. My colleagues Carlos Espinosa (Trinfo Cafe) and Korey Jackson (Anvil Academic) and I created a WordPress-based publishing workflow demonstration site at If THATCampers desire hands-on access, I can instantly create sub-site admin accounts and a 5-minute tutorial on creating your own publication in PressBooks, to compare with related tools such as Anthologize.

Door #3: Take a chance on the Mystery Door* (It’s a surprise, just like the game show. Read more about the related Monty Hall Problem.)

WebWritingA-400pxSo what’s the deal? If you choose any of the doors above, then you agree to post a comment on a book-in-progress, Web Writing: Why & How for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning. This freely accessible, open peer-review volume explores why & how faculty and students use web-based authoring, annotating, and publishing tools in the liberal arts. My editorial team and I are particularly interested in works that blend the “why & how” by making effective use of the open web platform to blend thoughtful insights with illustrative examples (including links, screenshots, images, etc.). The book’s sponsor, the Center for Teaching and Learning at Trinity College, will award $300 subventions to 5 outstanding proposals, with preference given to authors in greater financial need (e.g. students or faculty not in full-time, tenure-track positions). If you’re a prospective contributor, or just an interested reader, post a comment on our Call for Ideas & Essay Proposals page before June 15th. Full drafts are not due until August 15th, 2013. Learn about our editorial process and timeline for the Fall 2013 open peer review and freely-accessible digital publication, possibly with a scholarly press. See more at

*Void where prohibited by law. Gambling is not necessarily endorsed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History & New Media, except for spending ridiculous numbers of hours to prepare and submit grant proposals that have very long odds of being funded.

Intermediate Omeka Wed, 05 Jun 2013 17:36:28 +0000

Because of popular demand, and because an extra slot opened up in the schedule, I’ve agreed to teach an Intermediate Omeka workshop on Saturday. (I may have to end it a bit early to set things up for challenge voting, though.)

Mostly what I’ll do in this session is answer any questions that people have left over from the Intro to Omeka workshop, but chances are I’ll demonstrate how to obtain server space, how to install the server-side version of Omeka, how to install themes and plugins from, and how to customize a server-side installation of Omeka.

Great (and simple) Omeka exhibits

Installing Omeka

  • Hosting Suggestions –
  • Preparing to Install Omeka –
  • Installation step by step –
    • Customizing Omeka

      There are many helpful documents on the Omeka Documentation page. The “Recipes” near the bottom are particularly helpful to beginners. See, for instance, the Recipe for how to set a default thumbnail image for items that don’t have an associated image file: That’s a very similar process to the example we went over briefly in class for my project at of setting a regular thumbnail instead of a square thumbnail for items such as that do have an uploaded image. See also the full list of PHP Functions for Omeka — these are “template” pieces of code that will make a particular common thing happen (such as showing the thumbnail or the square thumbnail).

      Note that any competent graphic designer who knows HTML and CSS can customize the look and feel of Omeka, and any competent PHP developer can customize the functionality of Omeka. You can pick up HTML, CSS, and PHP skills yourself from the Internet or from a book, but if you need extensive customization, you should hire someone. (You could for instance hire someone from the “Designer / Developer Marketplace” on the Omeka forums.) It’s kind of like your car: you can learn to change the oil, gap the spark plugs, and rebuild the carburetor yourself if you want to, or you can pay someone else to do all that. The Omeka team at the Center for History and New Media is like the team of Detroit-based engineers at General Motors, but there are designers and developers everywhere who, like auto mechanics, can work on your specific problems.

      ]]> 4 Scholars Recruit Public for Project Wed, 05 Jun 2013 16:02:53 +0000

      Hi Transcribers.

      Make sure you sign up for a Scripto account. If you want some background on Scripto and Crowdsourcing, you might like this article.

      Build a Repository of DH Job Letters, T&P Files Wed, 05 Jun 2013 14:19:01 +0000

      Although there are some examples out there of people’s DH job application letters and tenure & promotion materials, there’s no central repository of professional materials to help guide people through what should be a straightforward process of presenting one’s credentials. Those of us who have served on hiring committees have all read great and terrible job letters, but most letter writers have only seen their own.

      There’s even less out there showcasing the other side of the equation, particularly in the promotion  process. The ability to study not only the candidates’ tenure materials but also the letters prepared by department committees, chairs, college committees, deans, etc. would appear be of intense interest (and real utility) to people in all kinds of professional positions.

      After being hired, promoted, whatever we like to put all this messiness behind us and conceal it under the professional veneer of superior credentials inexorably prevailing, but it’s a complicated process of negotiation that could use some cleansing daylight.

      I think it’s safe to assume that anyone who doesn’t participate in this session has crafted his/her professional reputation from a tissue of lies.

      ]]> 3
      Scripting Languages for Humanists Tue, 04 Jun 2013 22:31:42 +0000

      Fred Gibbs has proposed a session on R for Humanists, and I’d like to propose a complementary session on scripting languages for humanists. Ruby and Python are popular among digital humanists for a variety of applications. These

      • data munging
      • data analysis
      • natural language processing (with the Natural Language Toolkit)
      • geocoding (I use ggmaps, but there are lots of options)
      • automation
      • web scraping
      • solving particular programming problems of interest to humanists, such as dates
      • general purpose programming
      • web development
      • system administration (e.g. Wayne Graham’s Capistrano recipes for Omeka)

      We needn’t limit the session to Ruby and Python; in fact, I hope we talk more about R. Intro to programming sessions are ever popular; that’s not what I have in mind, but maybe that would be useful too.

      This session could turn into a show and tell session where we share what we’re doing with these kinds of languages and get some new ideas. We might decide to solve some problem of general interest to the group. Or we might decide to work through the exercises in the Programming Historian (Python) or the Rubyist Historian (Ruby).

      ]]> 1
      new ways to publish humanities scholarship? Tue, 04 Jun 2013 15:20:20 +0000

      Let’s get together and brainstorm new possibilities for publishing humanities scholarship. If we’re not satisfied with digital versions of journal articles and monographs, what alternatives can we propose? Are there any models that look promising or interesting experiments (like Scalar) in the works? Let’s dream up what would be exciting and useful without getting bogged down in a conversation about tenure and promotion. If scholarly communication is the goal — rather than checking boxes — what do we want to do?

      This conversation could focus on the specific challenges of digital humanities scholarship, or approach humanities scholarship more broadly. But let’s focus on the production and dissemination of scholarship, not on getting credit.


      ]]> 1
      building a repository of publishing contracts Tue, 04 Jun 2013 14:52:06 +0000

      This is a call for help and contributions for a project that (if I get some collaborators) might be part of the maker challenge or might be something that lays the groundwork for a future project.

      One of the tricky things about agreeing to and negotiating contracts for publishing something is an unfamiliarity with the options available. Unless you’ve done a lot of publishing, you might not have a sense even of what an author’s contract looks like. Even if you have published a lot, you might not know what a specific publisher offers—are you going to agree to write a contribution to a book only to discover that the publisher demands that you sign over your copyright and isn’t willing to negotiate? (That’s not a hypothetical example, by the way.) I’ve written about negotiating a new contributor’s contract; my experience of doing that and sharing the process suggests there’s a real hunger for advice on what contracts look like and what our options are for publishing.

      What I’d like to see is a site where people can upload and share their contracts. There are possibly legal issues to sort through—I’m pretty sure that most contracts aren’t proprietary and therefore we can share them publicly, but I’m also pretty sure that most publishers might not like that. There are technical issues to sort through—what sort of platform is best for a project like this, allowing for public uploads of documents and controlled options for tagging and searching? And there are sustainability issues—this might be a project that is best run by an organization rather than an individual.

      I’d love it if there were some THATCampers who wanted to think through these issues with me and to build a prototype of what it might look like. And I’d really love it if there were THATCampers who would be willing to contribute their contracts to it. (If you do contribute your contract, you probably want to black out your name and your publication’s name, but you’ll need to leave the publisher’s name visible.) If you want to contribute your contract, you can leave a link to it below or email it to me (<a href=”“>sarah.werner at</a>)

      ]]> 7
      Freeing Images from Inside Digitized Books and Newspapers Mon, 03 Jun 2013 21:55:09 +0000
      1850 "A cut section of the sun, showing the spots, Luminous Atmospher, and the opaque body of the sun" An abridgment of Smith's Illustrated astronomy

      “A cut section of the sun, showing the spots, Luminous Atmospher, and the opaque body of the sun” An abridgment of Smith’s Illustrated astronomy, 1850. This is exactly the kind of cool images hidden in these books.

      We now have a massive wealth of digitized books. Between HathiTrust, the Internet Archive’s Open Library, Google Books and the other range of organizations that have gotten into digitization we have millions upon millions of digitized books. I don’t know about you, but (in general) I’m far less interested in reading these books than I am in skimming them for cool images. The same thing is true of digitized newspapers.

      Those books are loaded with amazingly cool images, prints, engravings, woodcuts, pictures, plates, charts, figures and other kinds of diagrams. I tend to keep track of these sorts of things with Pinterest. (My Pinterest is full of images I’ve plucked out of IA books I’m skimming for these kinds of images.) I imagine there are a lot of folks out there who would be happy to play at this kind of visual treasure hunt. Find images, inside digitized items and describe them. I think it would be really neat if we had some basic sort of tool that would let folks who find these things pull them out and describe them so that other folks could find them too and use them as points of entry to the books.

      I’d love to scheme with folks about how we could go about systematically tapping into this resource. How can we go about slurping these images out of the books, and getting them described in ways that make the reusable for any number of purposes?  I could imagine something like Pinterest, but that pushed the items back into the Internet Archive or uploaded them to WikiSource and kept a link between the original resource and let someone describe the individual image and keep it connected with the information on the book or newspaper it originally appeared in.

      The elements of astronomy; 1823 a women teaching a young girl to use a telescope to study the moon. Used in Kim Tooley's "The Science Education of American Girls" as evidence for the argument that in the early 19th century science was for girls while classics was for boys.

      How about this frontspiece, from the 1823 Elements of Astronomy showing a women teaching a young girl to use a telescope to study the moon. It shows up as visual evidence in Kim Tolley’s “The Science Education of American Girls” as evidence for the argument that in the early 19th century science was for girls while classics was for boys.

      Or heck, it might be something one could pull together with some kind of marker in things posted to Pinterest. I imagine there are far more cleaver ways to go about this and that is what this session would be about.

      I picture us hashing out how something like this might work. We could sketch out what things we might hook together to do this sort of thing.

      Here are some things we might talk/work through.

      • What would the ideal user experience for this kind of thing look like?
      • What would be the best way to stitch something like this together? 
      • Should some group host it, or is there a distributed way to do something like this? 
      • What groups or organizations might be interested in being involved?

      What do you think? Feel free to add other questions we might broach in the session. Oh, and there is nothing stoping folks from blogging out their ideas in advance. Feel free to write up as comments your ideas about how this might work best, or some other use cases you might imagine. Also, just feel free to weigh in and say if you think something like this would be useful.

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      Intro to Omeka Plugins rescheduled to facilitate fame and glory! Mon, 03 Jun 2013 15:48:08 +0000

      Just a note for people planning to attend the Intro to Omeka Plugins workshop that it has been rescheduled to the first session after scheduling on Friday.

      Why? For fame, glory, and fabulous prizes!

      Whose fame, glory, and fabulous prizes? YOURS!

      If you have an idea for an Omeka plugin and want to dive right in, you can make your work part of the THATCamp Challenge. Take what you learn at the workshop and start building, join other new and seasoned developers in the Makerspace (RRCHNM central in Research Hall, room 470), and build something new to show off at the end of THATCamp.

      Good luck!

      Saturday Traffic Alert: HS Graduations on Campus Mon, 03 Jun 2013 15:23:48 +0000

      Hi Folks,

      Want to warn anyone who is driving to ThatCamp on Saturday, that there are three high school graduations scheduled at the Patriot Center (which is on the same side of campus as the THATCamp festivities, near the Braddock Road entrances to GMU). Graduations will be at 9:30am, 2:30pm, and 7:00pm.

      The biggest challenge will most likely be getting in for the Saturday morning sessions.

      According to Mason Parking:
      “Be prepared for heavier traffic up to 90 minutes prior to each ceremony and allow more time to drive to and from campus. Parking and Transportation Services encourages staff and students to use the Rappahannock River Parking Deck or the Field House parking lots to avoid traffic. Mason will be best accessed through entrances off of University Drive or Roberts Road. Check Parking and Transportation’s Facebook and Twitter pages for updates on conditions on and around campus.”

      A SWAT Team for Old Digital Humanities Sites Fri, 31 May 2013 03:02:27 +0000

      The graphical world wide web has now been in existence for  over 20 years. Some of the earliest digital humanities sites are almost as old. While some of these sites are tied to people or organizations who update them in one form or another, many are not as funding ran out or creators moved on. We can all think of sites that we’ve run across that are, at a minimum, not up to today’s visual and user experience expectations, and at worst, are simple unusable by some or even all of today’s users.

      Since we know that many old sites don’t fade away (though they might blink in and out), but linger on virtually forever (unless they were on GeoCities), what might we do with some of these abandoned or no-longer-funded projects going forward beyond just hoping that the Internet Archive takes some snapshots of them?  How might we build on the work that has already been done, and do so in a way that is more than just an aesthetic facelift for these sites? Is it worth considering ways that we might make such previous work more accessible (both in terms of accommodations and in terms of something that more people would want to use) and usable?

      I proposed a session at THATCamp AHA2012 on this topic where we began to list the issues involved.  This time, however, I’m proposing a session where we come up with a design plan for a team that would work on rescuing (updating) older digital humanities sites, and a specific list of skill sets and tools that would be needed to do so. [In the latter category, I know questions of copyright/permissions are a substantial issue to resolve, as are those relating to the technical aspects of how the material was stored and presented, and how a site might be maintained going forward.]

      Ideally, the session would bring together people interested in the project, would identify some potential test cases, and even discuss potential grants or other funding sources.

      Anyone else interested in designing a digital SWAT team for rescuing old sites?

      ]]> 4
      Let’s Build an Omeka Training Kit Wed, 29 May 2013 15:46:38 +0000

      Instructor: Sheila Brennan


      1. Working knowledge of Omeka.
      2. Desire to teach others how to use Omeka.

      The goal of the workshop is to encourage anyone and everyone to jump in and offer Intro Omeka workshops to help train colleagues and students at their home institutions. In this new workshop, we will work together to build an open training kit for Omeka trainers. I will start by sharing my workshop outlines and will ask for others to share their experiences, so that we can build a master workshop outline with suggestions for accompanying files to make giving Intro workshops easier for all. We will make these materials available either in a Google Group or Zotero (or both) to make it easier for everyone to add, share, and build.

      Please add to this public Zotero group with Omeka articles and other resources.

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      JSTOR Data for Research workshop Wed, 29 May 2013 15:18:07 +0000

      In this workshop we will provide both a general overview of the JSTOR Data for Research (DfR) service and a “how to” for using Hadoop and cloud computing for text mining large datasets. For the big data mining portion of the workshop we will be using a large dataset consisting of the JSTOR Early Journal Content (EJC) collection. A bundle of metadata and full text for the approximately 460,000 articles in the EJC collection can be downloaded from the DfR site. For this tutorial we have pre-loaded the EJC content into Amazon Web Service (AWS) data storage and will provide instructions on how to use the AWS Elastic Map Reduce (EMR) service for efficiently mining this dataset. In this tutorial we’ll show how to create an AWS account, develop and submit Map-Reduce jobs (written in Python) and retrieve results. The examples provided will include the generation of ngrams from full text and the identification of the top words in articles via the calculation of TF*IDF scores.

      Designing DH websites in public humanities with multimodal functions (mapping, archiving, crowd sourcing, and curating) Tue, 28 May 2013 23:54:32 +0000

      David Phillips and Tyler Pruitt, Wake Forest University

      What do you need to consider in planning and designing a website for a DH project meant as both a resource for the public and a vehicle for outreach and public input? What strategies can you employ in creating such a site?

      We would like to explore and have a discussion about experimental ideas and best practices in creating multi-modal sites that have these goals.

      What platforms work the best for particular objectives, and why? What web design tools and platforms are most effective for a public humanities DH project?

      If you’re in the early planning stages of site design for a DH public humanities project, come discuss your ideas, your questions and your insights.  We’ll work collaboratively on developing ideas for a ‘matrix’ of solutions that looks at the relative advantages of a variety of API, plug-ins and platforms.

      ]]> 4
      Teaching Digital History Tue, 28 May 2013 13:20:17 +0000

      This workshop (Friday at 1:30) will be aimed at working through the practical and pedagogical choices about creating a digital history course. We will explore sample syllabi, discuss potential projects, survey various tools, and identify obvious and not-so-obvious pitfalls to constructing a class that engages students in the scholarship and practice related to digital history.  [Not an historian?  Come join us anyway.  Most of these ideas and approaches apply to incorporating technology into any course.]

      Note: while there are no formal prerequisites to this workshop, please come with ideas for a course that you can discuss with the other workshop participants.

      ]]> 10
      Visualizing Uncertainty Sat, 25 May 2013 13:42:38 +0000

      Digital visualization and data-crunching tools are fantastic at compiling and manipulating numbers and strings quickly and precisely. However humanities data is often far from precise! How do we faithfully and usefully visualize information that is uncertain, sketchy, speculative, or debated? For example, when mapping the movements of a person over the course of their life, how can we visually differentiate between terminus post quem, terminus ante quem, and circa dates? How can we represent a scholarly debate that locates someone in multiple cities for a given date, depending on whom you ask?

      I can share my own successes and failures representing uncertain data on the movements of sixteenth and seventeenth century Netherlandish artists in Google Earth (using KML), but from there I’d love to have a wide-ranging brainstorming and sharing session that could encompass lots of other types of data and representational methods. What technologies, visual strategies, workarounds, hacks, gimmicks, or cheats have you used to wrap your computer’s mind (and your own) around troublesome data sets?

      ]]> 2
      Introduction to Omeka Fri, 24 May 2013 20:13:04 +0000

      Instructor: Sharon Leon

      1. A laptop
      2. Sample materials (several images, pdfs, and audiovisual files would be great)
      3. A free Basic account – sign up at

      In this hands-on workshop for beginners, we will concentrate on the ways that humanities scholars and cultural heritage professionals can use Omeka ( to build of collections-based websites. Omeka is a free and open source web publishing platform that offers a flexible way for users without a lot of technical expertise to publish digital collections and to embed those collection materials in a range of contextual data. During our time together, we will cover:

      • the basic structure of an Omeka repository
      • configuring and choosing a theme for an Omeka site
      • adding items to an Omeka repository (Dublin Core Metadata, file upload, etc.)
      • creating and using Collections to group materials
      • extending the basic Omeka functionality with plugins
      • creating many items quickly
      • using controlled vocabularies with metadata fields
      • creating relationships among items and collections
      • using Exhibit Building to create exhibits
      • collecting materials and stories from visitors
      • integrating Omeka with Zotero, Wikipedia, and other social networking sites
      Can someone teach this? Intermediate Omeka Thu, 23 May 2013 23:37:30 +0000

      Can someone teach an intermediate workshop for Omeka? Somewhere between an intro and advanced class. I know how to install Omeka and plugins, now what? The workshops I see are either too simple or too advanced. I would like to attend a workshop that would include how to modify a theme with some basic CSS and also setting up exhibits and simple pages. Are people linking their EAD finding aids in their Omeka sites? Is there an EAD plugin compatible with the updated Omeka? Can we discuss Omeka best practices. How are people naming files and digitizing collections that already have paper/Box/Folder/versions with pdf finding aids. How are CSV files of metadata working out for you? How are we actually working with Omeka and how are people teaching with Omeka?

      ]]> 3
      3D Modeling and Printing Workshop Tue, 21 May 2013 13:13:26 +0000

      In this workshop, we’ll help participants get acquainted with tools and techniques for 3D modeling objects and spaces, editing their models, and hopefully have some viable models to use for 3D printing. We’ll have at least one 3D printer to play around with—a Makerbot Replicator 2—and a few different colors of filament to print with. We might have more than one printer, which’ll mean more printing! Participants should bring a laptop if possible, a digital camera of some kind (a camera on a smartphone should be fine, but bring a fancy DSLR if you want), cords or other paraphernalia for transferring pictures from a camera to a computer, and any objects they might want to use to create a model. I’ll try to bring a couple of cameras in case some folks need to borrow something. If the model we create in class isn’t viable for printing by the end of the workshop, participants can find a model somewhere like Thingiverse, and we can download and print that model. Heck, even if you do have a viable model to print and still want to print something off Thingiverse, we can try to find time. At the end of the workshop, we’d like everyone to be comfortable making their own 3D models, and have printed something on the 3D printer to take home.

      This’ll be a pretty open workshop in terms of structure. We’ll go through basic camera usage, and strategies for taking pictures for 3D modeling. We’ll cover a couple of different software options for creating and modifying your models. We’ll also go over basics of 3D printing, and discuss the features and process of the 3D printer, maintenance and debugging strategies, and print some stuff. I’d love to leave time for discussion and reflection, and hope that through the process of learning how to do the modeling and printing, we can have some good conversations about how folks could use 3D modeling and printing in their scholarly work.

      ]]> 1
      Atoms to Bits and back again Mon, 20 May 2013 20:19:43 +0000

      There have been sessions at past THATCamps that have explored the use of 3D design to envision historical sites or perhaps to demonstrate relationships of words in a concordance or index. In those cases the examples in most cases were a transference of Atoms (papers, manuscripts, notes from conversations) to bits (program design, programming, data entry, user interfaces). For this session I would like to explore your ideas and mine about the impact of Making, Tinkering, Physical Innovation to create 3 Dimensional Objects in the Digital Humanities.

      One quick example: 1) Analog — a historian discovers description, perhaps with an illustration of a piece of table ware or furniture. She notes that it has certain qualities that she’d like to explore more. This is where the project moves into 2) Digital space. The object is sketched, then rendered into a 3D representation. Then that file is may need to be translated into a format that can be used by a 3D printer. The object can be scaled down or up to fit the 3D printer that will be used to “print” the object. Once the object is “printed” it has returned to an 1) Analog object. Now the object can be closely observed to better understand those curious qualities. There are many variations on this theme. Let’s share some of them.

      A true story. At the San Diego Super Computer Center at UC-San Diego there was a Laminated Object Modeling (LOM) lab. Their printer used thin paper layers pasted then cut with lasers. They created a small model of the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains in the same scale. They were small, hand held objects. A ninth grade class on tour was shown the models and asked what did they learn from seeing these two objects. A young woman was the first to raise her hand. Her answer, “The Appalachians are older than the Rockies because they are worn down and smoother than the Rockies.” She was correct.

      So, how could 3D tools and resources for Making or Tinkering be applied to ideas, questions, or the work in the Humanities you are doing?

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      Full up (for now) Mon, 20 May 2013 17:57:07 +0000

      Just a note to say that we’ve reached our quota of 150 participants, so from here on out we’ll be running a wait list. In past years we’ve gotten a lot of cancellations in the week or two beforehand, and almost everyone from the wait list has gotten in, so if you or a friend would still like to come to THATCamp (especially now that there are such a lot of great pre-planned things on the schedule), why, go ahead and register.

      One additional note: there will *not* be a Rosenzweig Forum on Thursday, June 6th — a couple of speakers didn’t work out, and in any case there was a spring instance of the Rosenzweig Forum at the Library of Congress back in April on the topic of digital preservation.

      Don’t forget to update your profile by logging in to the site, and keep those session proposals coming.

      What the Shell? Hands on with the command line. Mon, 20 May 2013 15:13:43 +0000

      A hands-on, participant-run workshop for understanding and using the command line (shell) to get things done. I’ll give a very brief intro to using the shell, and then we’ll work on answering questions and doing things!

      Some ideas for hands-on instruction:

      • Managing files.
      • Creating small scripts to do things.
      • Manipulating text in files.
      • Transferring files from your computer to another computer (server), and vice versa.

      These are just a few ideas, come with a problem you want solved or solutions you have found to share with others!

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      Plea – Viewshare and Omeka Exhibit Workshop Mon, 20 May 2013 01:17:20 +0000

      This is a plea for a workshop on creating interfaces to digital collections using Viewshare and Omeka Exhibit. I have used both with my students but do not feel anywhere near proficient enough to facilitate a workshop. Both platforms seem to have a lot to offer for both academic and community-based projects.

      ]]> 2
      Intro to Omeka Plugins Thu, 16 May 2013 18:27:29 +0000

      Q: Ever wanted to learn how to put together a new plugin for Omeka but wasn’t sure where to start?

      A: This workshop!

      We’ll look at the basic structure of an Omeka plugin and how the pieces fit together, then I’ll have some exercises ready for you to begin hacking on and expanding some example plugins.

      Topics covered include creating a model for new kinds of content, understanding how Zend/Omeka connects URLs to controllers and views, and using best practices in Omeka’s code to make your life easier. The primary audience is people with some experience with PHP, especially Object-Oriented PHP, but the session will also be helpful to people who are beginners to coding in PHP and are curious about typical structures and paradigms for hacking on an Omeka installation.

      We’ll be looking at Omeka code and going through activities that involve installing and manipulating example plugins, so you should come with an instance of Omeka 2.0 installed on your laptop.

      UPDATE — links added!

      We’ll be using the following three plugins as examples to help us learn some of the basic structures in Omeka plugins. Please come to the workshop with them installed in your Omeka site on your laptop — we’ll be directly editing them together and looking at the results on your laptop.

      Click the ZIP link to download the plugin, or if you are a git user clone the repositories.

      And some exercises for during and/or after the session.

      ]]> 4
      Imagining THATClass: Move over STEM, Make Room for THAT! Thu, 16 May 2013 13:38:40 +0000

      Why should STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) have all the fun? It is time for the humanities to embrace the studio model as a pedagogical means to foster intellectual curiosity. MIT has NuVu; let’s create THATClass! Bring your ideas on partnerships, collaboration, technology integration, hands-on projects, uncovering content, and ways to apply knowledge and skills rooted in the humanities to develop the future of secondary (and post-secondary) education. ==> Saturday

      ]]> 1
      Papers of the War Department Transcribathon Wed, 15 May 2013 15:49:55 +0000

      Fire destroyed the War Department office in 1800. For decades historians believed that its files, and the window they provide into the early federal government, had been lost forever. The Papers of the War Department project unites copies of over 45,000 documents from the lost files in a digital archive that reconstitutes this invaluable historical resource.

      During the transcribathon, participants will sign up to become a Transcription Associate for the Papers of the War Department and will learn to use its installation of Scripto, the transcription plugin for WordPress, Omeka, and Drupal. If you plan to participate, please sign up beforehand to become a Transcription Associate.

      ]]> 3
      QGIS Introduction Tue, 14 May 2013 14:13:43 +0000

      The value of GIS in the humanities has been heavily discussed over the last few years, but it remains difficult for most humanists to get started and explore new methodologies, vocabularies, software, and procedures.

      This fully introductory session will go over:

      • how to install QGIS (a free, open-source alternative to ArcGIS)
      • basic concepts of GIS software
      • finding and using shapefiles (to generate maps)
      • finding data to map
      • mapping historical data on a modern map (ie linking data to shapefiles)
      • mapping historical data on historic maps (ie map overlays)

      We will walk through each of these procedures using an example of mapping civil war battles (because that’s what one does in Virginia).

      R for humanists Tue, 14 May 2013 14:05:02 +0000

      Text mining (TM) has been one of the most frequently discussed methodologies in the humanities in the last year, along with many tools can help with some basic and some not so basic TM methodologies. Although it may seem like overkill, learning how to use the statistical software package R for TM is a great way to learn more about some fundamental processes and how you can get more control over your own TM explorations.

      This introductory workshop will demonstrate how to:

      install R
      use the R console (like the command line)
      create a set of text files to explore
      explore the basic TM features
      create a visualization of document similarity


      ]]> 4
      More about NARA transcribathon and tagathon Fri, 10 May 2013 18:27:25 +0000

      Meredith Stewart and colleagues from the National Archives will be running Transcribathon and Tagathon sessions on Friday, June 7. Here’s her description:

      Staff from the National Archives will lead participants in tagging and transcribing historical records through the agency’s Citizen Archivist Dashboard. Participants will be able to provide feedback and suggestions on improving tools and ideas for how to further leverage citizen participation.

      De-MOOCing the Past — Alternative Approaches to Online History Courses Thu, 02 May 2013 17:48:49 +0000

      Looking past MOOC mania, there are many models for online teaching and learning. We’ll start the conversation at this workshop with some lessons learned from designing two asynchronous online history courses: Hidden in Plain Sight and Virginia Studies. Instructors include Kelly Schrum, Celeste Sharpe, Nate Sleeter, and Jeri Wieringa.

      View Notes and Resources

      ]]> 1
      Synchronicity 2 (“Looks Like the Internet” — a collaborative writing experiment) Wed, 01 May 2013 21:20:57 +0000

      Again on the performance/deformance tip, I’d like to propose a second session: a collaborative writing experiment using Participad. What I’d like to do here is engage a group of people in an attempt to co-author, in real time, a journal article with the title “Looks Like the Internet: The Structure of Digital Humanities.” I’d pick a couple dozen familiar digital humanities references relevant to the title and place footnotes for them at various points in a document. The group would try to write around them to create a coherent piece of new scholarship. We’d start in the morning and see how far we get by bed time.

      ]]> 1
      Synchronicity 1 (PowerPoint Unhinged) Wed, 01 May 2013 21:20:04 +0000

      I'd like to bring PowerPoint back to THATCamp. No, not like that. Many THATCampers will know that I'm interested in performance and deformance in digital humanities, something I've written about <a href="">here</a> and Mark Sample has written about <a href="">here</a>. In a <a href="">recent episode of the podcast Roderick on the Line</a>, John Roderick described being asked by a conference organizer to provide slides for a talk he had been invited to give. Not knowing PowerPoint himself, Roderick asked a friend to make the slides for him — without, beyond mentioning the title of the talk, telling the friend what he was going to say. As the subject of the talk was punk, it was actually, if accidentally, about the most appropriate use of PowerPoint possible.

      I'd like to experiment with using PowerPoint in this way at THATCamp. What I'd like to do is put together four teams of two campers. One partner would choose a topic and write a ten minute talk. The other partner–knowing only the title of the talk–would build a deck of 20 slides. At THATCamp, the first partner would deliver the talk, and the second partner would advance the slides. At the end of each talk, we'd use the Q&A to explore what, if any, creative tensions, serendipitous insights, and hilarious hiccups these accidental PowerPoint presentations-cum-Mad Libs reveal.

      Please use the comments section below if you'd like to jump on board, ask questions, and help organize. If you already have a partner in mind, great. If not, people should pair up ahead of THATCamp. Each pair will probably need to settle on a title a couple weeks ahead of time in order to have enough time to write the talk and prepare the slides in time for presentation at THATCamp. Topics and titles don't have to (and probably shouldn't) relate to digital humanities topics. In some ways, I think the more traditional the topic and title, the more vanilla the humanities content, the better. 

      UPDATE: I think we will deliver these presentations as part of the Maker Challenge on Saturday afternoon. That will give everyone a little more time to organize. Please use Friday to pair up and write your talks/assemble your slides. Continue to use this space for connecting and coordination.

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      Book your room at the Mason Inn by May 7 Wed, 03 Apr 2013 14:27:01 +0000

      We have reserved a block of hotel rooms for THATCampers at the Mason Inn at a special rate of $102 per night. You must book your room by May 7 to get the conference rate. The Mason Inn is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University, about a five-minute walk from the Center for History and New Media, where THATCamp will take place. The Mason to Metro shuttle also stops at the Mason Inn and can take you to/from the Vienna Metro station and to/from CHNM. See GMU’s hotel page for other hotel options.

      Book your room at the Mason Inn

      To book by phone, call 877-296-6695 and mention “THATCamp Room Block.”

      Registration is open! Thu, 14 Feb 2013 22:04:58 +0000

      Registration is now open for THATCamp CHNM 2013! In the next few weeks, we’ll be posting more information here about workshops and other activities. In fact, if you’d like to teach a workshop, or if there’s something you’d like to learn, or if you’ve got an idea for a hackathon, feel free to comment. We’ll also be booking a speaker for the Rosenzweig Forum for the late afternoon or early evening on Thursday, June 6, the night before THATCamp officially begins, so plan accordingly.

      THATCamp CHNM 2013 Fri, 09 Nov 2012 15:46:54 +0000

      THATCamp CHNM (aka “THATCamp Prime”) will be held Friday June 7 through Saturday June 8 in Fairfax, Virginia, at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. The details will be published here when known. Meanwhile, read more about the THATCamp movement and browse other THATCamps at