THATCamp American Historical Association 2013 The Humanities and Technology Camp Thu, 03 Jan 2013 22:43:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Give us your feedback! Thu, 03 Jan 2013 22:43:58 +0000

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 Thu, 03 Jan 2013 19:23:01 +0000

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

Oral History and Digital Humanities Wed, 02 Jan 2013 23:03:00 +0000

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 Wed, 02 Jan 2013 18:00:45 +0000

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.

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MapStorytelling Wed, 02 Jan 2013 13:32:15 +0000

We are building a new dimension to the global data commons at 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, 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 Wed, 02 Jan 2013 04:06:32 +0000

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 Tue, 01 Jan 2013 19:08:00 +0000

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:

Susan Matt and Luke Fernandez are jointly proposing this.

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Twitter: Primary Source & Public Scholarship Tue, 01 Jan 2013 00:56:36 +0000

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 Mon, 31 Dec 2012 22:20:04 +0000

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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“Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Historians” : Ithaka Report Mon, 31 Dec 2012 21:30:23 +0000

This month Ithaka released this report: supporting-the-changing-research-practices-of-historians. I would be interested discussing how this report may act a springboard for winder discussions on the role of libraries and archives (henceforth just using libraries) and those who staff these institutions.

My interest comes from three different concerns. I am  the librarian responsible for most of the topics covered at NYU’s Department of History (along with a few other departments).  I am on the board of the International Association of Labour History Institutions, a group of research institutions,  predominantly European and of varying sizes, that focus on social history.  And last and closely tied to the previous two, I am working historian who has published a work in print and a significantly enhanced version digitally.

My talk proposal is related to but somewhat different than Mary-Allen Johnson’s post.  I am more interested in discussing the future role(s) of the library in historical scholarship.  Where is it collaborative and where is it supportive.



Digital Humanities Course Design Mon, 31 Dec 2012 03:08:46 +0000

I am in the early stages of designing an undergraduate honors tutorial in digital humanities and a graduate level, interdisciplinary research course with a focus on digital tools (both courses will be offered in Fall 2013).  I would like to propose a conversation about constructing undergraduate and a graduate level introductory digital humanities courses. What class projects work for ug/gr students? What texts resonate with students? How do you engage non-majors in humanities scholarship? Best practices? Realistic learning objectives?


Katherine O’Flaherty



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Citation Management and Research Workflow for Digital Scholarship in Non-Western Languages Sun, 30 Dec 2012 17:26:52 +0000

THATCamp AHA 2013
Talk proposal


As I prepare to head to East Asia for several months of dissertation research, I’ve been considering the challenges of adapting my citation management tools for use in the Chinese-language archives in which I’ll be working. Along these lines, I’d like to propose a discussion of the particular digital needs of historians working in non-Western languages. Such a discussion might include some of the following topics:

-What are the relative strengths of extant citation management applications in their handling of non-Western scripts?
-What solutions have been created for the integration, manipulation, and searching of scripts and transliterations within database records?
-What possibilities exist for incorporating OCR and other digitization techniques into a paperless research workflow for non-Western languages?
-How might historians working in non-Western scripts more effectively use the digital humanities tools that already exist, and how might future versions of these tools be of greater use to us?

We might also consider composing a critical summary of this session for circulation among a wider community of historians and open source developers.

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Open Research Notebooks in the Humanities Fri, 28 Dec 2012 20:34:19 +0000

What are the pros and cons, the means and obstacles, of keeping an open-access research notebook in the humanities?

In an 2008 roundtable on digital history, historian William G. Thomas envisioned a future in which websites would serve as "open research platforms where scholars can stage problems and continually modify their work, readers can view the research as it develops, and both can continually assemble new associations as an interpretive model is built." But as Lisa Spiro has recently noted in her series on "opening the humanities" (Part 1 and Part 2), this idea has not yet really taken hold in the humanities.

The idea of open research notebooks has made more headway in science; for one example, see the Open Lab Notebook kept by Carl Boettiger. And some of the benefits promised by the open science movement—like the freeing of "dark data" often lost in the publication process—seem like they would be applicable to humanistic disciplines like history as well. Keeping open research notebooks might also be one way to respond to the series of challenges to scholarship in a wikified world that AHA president William Cronon has outlined.

Nonetheless, there are challenges—technical and otherwise—to the idea of open research notebooks in the humanities. Andrew J. Berger has recently outlined only a few. The challenges and questions surrounding this idea are also not exactly the same as those that surround the idea of open-access publication, where discussion tends to center on issues like evaluation, promotion, and peer review. Those issues aren’t precisely the same ones raised by the idea of "open lab" notebooks kept by historians.

I have recently begun an open research notebook experiment of my own by beginning an online research wiki. I am interested in a talk session with other THATcampers interested in thinking how the open attitude might change the way research notes are kept and managed. What are the technical best practices for this kind of project? Will its benefits be limited if these experiments are too isolated from the discipline as a whole?

I’m open (pun intended!) to other versions of these questions or this session!

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THATCamp Check In, AHA Registration Wed, 19 Dec 2012 17:26:23 +0000

As Amanda noted, THATCamp AHA participants will check in at the Nottoway room at the Sheraton New Orleans (500 Canal Street)  at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 3.

Those of you who are registered for the AHA meeting should note that AHA registration opens at noon on Thursday, so you won’t be able to pick up your AHA badge before attending THATCamp. Registration, located across the street in the New Orleans Marriott’s Mardi Gras Ballroom, is open until 7 p.m. Thursday evening so you will be able to pick up your AHA badge immediately afterward.


Debbie Doyle

American Historical Association

Preparing for THATCamp AHA Fri, 14 Dec 2012 18:20:35 +0000

The second THATCamp AHA is drawing near: it will take place on Thursday 1/3 at the Sheraton New Orleans. We’ve got almost 50 participants — see who’s coming at and log in to update your own profile information if you like (click “Lost your password?” if you need to). You can upload a profile picture at

Now is also the time to start thinking about what you’d like to do or discuss at THATCamp AHA. From now till THATCamp AHA begins, you can propose one or more session ideas by logging in to the site, clicking Posts –> Add New, writing out your idea, then clicking “Publish” to post your idea on the site where we can all see and discuss it. See for more information about how and what you might propose, not to mention a little bit of explanation about why things work this way at THATCamp. We’d particularly like to encourage “Make” sessions this year.

Please arrive at the Nottoway room in the Sheraton by 8:30am to pick up your THATCamp AHA badge so that we can begin creating a schedule promptly at 9am. We’ve got a full day for sessions this year.

Write me or on Twitter at @thatcamp with any questions, and go to to see what’s going on at other THATCamps around the world. Hope you find THATCamp AHA fun, productive, and collegial.

Registration is open! Tue, 25 Sep 2012 18:35:12 +0000

To register, visit There is no fee for attending THATCamp AHA, and THATCamp AHA is open to all who wish to come — AHA members and AHA non-members alike. We have room for 100 people, so sign up soon to ensure your slot.

THATCamp AHA is back Tue, 29 May 2012 18:22:00 +0000

Plans are in the works to hold THATCamp AHA on January 3, 2013 in New Orleans. Check back on this website and follow @thatcampaha on Twitter for further details as they become available.