• Give us your feedback!


    The survey for THATCamp AHA is here.  It’s quick and easy.

    Thanks for coming.

    Jeff and Dan

  • Session notes for the Classrooms and Learning Spaces Discussion


    Add your own notes or just check out the session here.

  • Oral History and Digital Humanities


    While not all oral historians identify themselves with the digital humanities, there is a distinct subsection of practitioners who do, and many of the remaining researchers are doing work that is relative to DH, either directly or indirectly. Because of their emphasis on making interviews more accessible to both scholars and the general public, oral historians and digital humanists have a number of intersecting priorities. The new technologies that started becoming available in the 1990s provided a lot of opportunities for presenting materials online, and after working through a range of ethical issues, oral historians took advantage of the new platforms in a wide variety of ways.

    Those who conduct oral histories are also in an interesting position for DH practitioners, since while many DH scholars spend their time parsing, analyzing, and recontextualizing already existing records, oral historians are involved in the creation of primary sources as well as in the development of DH research and tools.

    This proposed “talk” session would  open a conversation about the roles of oral historians in the digital humanities, what work they are doing now that is relevant, and what products or formats non-oral historians would like to see that would help them with their own work.

  • Using the Programming Historian


    Chad Black and I would like to jointly propose an afternoon session on using The Programming Historian website. This open source resource introduces historians with no background in programming to the Python scripting language.

    Chad and I could approach this as a “teach,” “make,” or “play” session, depending on the group. For example, we would demo a few scripts we’ve written after completing the lessons ourselves. We could also come up with an exercise as a group and see whether we can quickly make a script using the Programming Historian tools to address some problem the group comes up with.

  • MapStorytelling


    We are building a new dimension to the global data commons at www.mapstory.org that empowers users to “crowd source” data within a geospatial and temporal framework and represent these data in a standardized, searchable format (to include geospatial and temporal/chronological search), and in such a way that these data can easily be accessed, analyzed and visualized – particularly geospatially and temporally.

    In this session we would like to engage participants in an open discussion that hits on several of the universal questions posed by the process of MapStorytelling – i.e. how to facilitate quality peer review in an open environment, how to insert time into the current geo-spatial mix, what features are vital for enhancing the richness of narratives, how to deal responsibly with Creative Commons and Open Database licenses, etc.

    We’ll start by introducing the alpha version of mapstory.org, the concept of MapStorytelling as we are thinking about it to-date, and the questions we struggle with, and will then open up the floor for discussion.


  • Ask Anybody Anything


    We have many kinds of campers this year, ranging from early stage students to chairs of departments to scholars from libraries, museums, and other important parts of our discipline (and even some outside of history). Using the model of Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything,” which President Obama participated in last fall, this would be an open session where campers could ask anything, with the goal a better understanding of the more mysterious parts of the profession.

  • Gaming in the Classroom


    I’m an enormous fan of games of all types–word, board, computer, sport, team-building, card, theater–but finding inventive ways to integrate them into the (history) classroom is challenging.

    Background: I’m thinking specifically of the work of Jane McGonigal as in her work Reality is Broken and in this TED talk. While this is very well trodden ground at the primary school level, it feels underused still in higher education. But the educational possibilities of creating or playing games are easy to see:

    • My friend Emmanuel Schanzer teaches math by having students code computer games through his program, Bootstrap.
    • A colleague who teaches government at the local high school uses Diplomacy with his advanced students to demonstrate the give and take of international diplomacy.
    • History’s lessons were the inspiration for recent kickstarters on election rigging (Tammany Hall) and the Salem witch craft trials (Salem).
    • AAA video game releases use extensive historical elements to add depth to the gaming experience as in the Assassin’s Creed Series.

    Let’s have a session where we brainstorm ways to take advantage of gaming’s possibilities for learning.

    We can do this as a TALK session (discuss how, why, and when to introduce gaming and brainstorm games that would be appropriate for our teaching areas), a PLAY session (where myself and others can demonstrate simple games that can be extrapolated for specific pedagogical lessons), or a MAKE session (if folks have ideas about specific things they’d like to turn into games).

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    We are proposing a combined MAKE and TALK session:

    For the Talk– Are our present concerns about “information overload” and “digital distraction” and the need for “Walden zones” and “digital
    sabbaths” simply a form of “moral panic?”  Are they merely the latest iteration of longstanding fears about the new and unknown? Didn’t
    earlier generations’ worry about the way that movies, or rock and roll, or television,  were affecting America’s youth?  Or are our
    present worries something to be taken seriously?  What insights can the humanities bring to bear in answering these questions?

    For the Make–What digital technologies might help to alleviate the concerns about distractions enumerated above?  Here’s a cartoon storyline idea for one such ap: tinyurl.com/anb3xwk

    Susan Matt and Luke Fernandez are jointly proposing this.

  • Twitter: Primary Source & Public Scholarship


    Twitter is the epitome of risk/reward for scholars working with contemporary materials:

    Rewards?  It is a living, evolving archive that captures a diverse range of perspectives on contemporary events. The archive is public, easily accessible, and open for statistic manipulation and study.

    Risks? Twitter is a privately-owned company whose motivations are not synonymous with archivists, scholars, or the academy. Moreover, scholars interested in manipulating tweets must learn to digitally interface with the Twitter API and then must turn elsewhere, like Google Spreadsheets, to store and study their data.

    First, I’m interested in the ethics of scholarship and the public life of academics on platforms like Twitter. As scholars, how and where do we draw the lines about using Twitter as material for our research. Are we guided solely by own our academic obligations (IRBs)? What role do the legal and extra-legal rights of Twitter and its users play for us? What if we are “publishing” our introductory research online (e.g., on a personal or professional blog)? Do we owe our Twitter subjects an invitation to see themselves in our work? Should that invitation be made from within Twitter?

    Second, I’m interested in the technological demands of working with Twitter. How does one manage the technical challenges of an ever-growing archive (e.g., fed by daily automatic calls to Twitter that are placed in spreadsheets)? What are the limits of the documentation with Twitter? What are the emerging citation practices and writing conventions for intensive studies of material from Twitter?

    I can see this going in a few different directions. Some of this ground has been covered before, as in Jeffrey McClurken’s 2009 THATCamp on “Archiving Social Media Conversations of Significant Events.” The interest there seemed to be documenting ‘significant events’ as they happened to preserve them. My interests differ in that I’m hoping to discuss Twitter as a kind of already preserved site, if one knows how to access it. That may just be nitpicking.

    This could also easily be split in two (a TEACH/MAKE session on the technical aspects of using/manipulating the Twitter API with Google scripts and a broader conversation about ethics and public scholarship on Twitter and other social media). I am comfortable facilitating a discussion, but I’m less comfortable being the only technical guru directing a teach/make session. If things went horribly wrong with the Google scripts (as they sometimes do) I might not have to skills to fix them on the fly. A technical buddy would be fantastic to make sure things don’t go too awry.

    Either of these sound like something you’d fancy?

  • Classrooms and Learning Spaces for the Future


    Session notes are here.

    I’m interested in talking about classroom and class design for the future:

    What should the physical space for learning include looking forward?  What are our minimum expectations?  Does the physical classroom matter any more?  [MOOCs, online and blended/hybrid classes raise complicated questions about what parts of classrooms and the things we do in them (like lecture) matter, which don’t matter, and which need to change as new virtual or physical spaces for teaching emerge.] For how long and in what ways will/should the classroom change?

    I should say that I’ve been mulling this notion of classroom space for a while (see my post here for one exploration of these ideas) as I’ve been involved in two different major building/renovation projects on my campus, but this could well be something that goes beyond classrooms to something like “learning spaces of the future” that would combine the physical and intellectual space that classrooms, libraries, archives, and museums occupy now and in the years to come.

    Anyone else interested in talking about learning spaces?

    Jeff McClurken

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