• thanks, everybody!


    Now that the last strains of vintage pan-Asian surf and garage rock are fading from our ears and most (though not all) THATCampers have made their way home, we can take a moment to express our sincere thanks.

    First, to our stalwart organizing crew, who included faculty and staff from Mary Washington University, the University of Virginia, and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (alphabetically: Joe Gilbert, Ronda Grizzle, Eric Johnson, Jeff McClurken, Patrick Murray-John, Bethany Nowviskie, and Becca Peters) — may your cardinals never lose their perukes!

    We’d like to thank our sponsors: the Scholars’ Lab, SHANTI, and IATH at UVa, and Mary Washington’s Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies and Teaching Center. Thanks to the University of Virginia Library for its hospitality through the three-day event — and a big thank-you to Monticello for sponsoring our Sunday outing and behind-the-scenes, geeks-only tour.

    Thanks to our wonderful BootCamp instructors: Chris Gist, Joe Gilbert, Kathy Gerber, Kelly Johnston, Nancy Kechner, Patrick Murray-John, Raf Alvarado, and Wayne Graham. Drop and give us 50!

    And finally, thanks to all of YOU, who made this un-conference your own, and therefore made it great.

  • DC DH Happy Hour!


    Last night, while luxuriating in the flow of surf punk and drinks,  Jarah Moesch, Josh Gorman and I were talking about how many of the best conference discussions are had with a beer at the end of the day. And then we realized that all three of us are in the DC area and we don’t need a conference to have beer and conversation.  And neither do you! What we need is a regular DH happy hour.

    So how ’bout it? I’m thinking bi-weekly, rotating between bars in DC, MD, and NoVA, between 7 and 9 pm, with the first scheduled in late January.  Please to be voting in this Doodle Poll to pick a day of the week!

  • Presenting the Digital Humanities On the Web


    I’m interested in a conversation about how to present the digital humanities and scholarly projects on the web and where that intersects with user centered design.  Possible topics of conversation could be:

    • how to identify the audience of a project
    • what the needs and expectations of that audience is
    • using card sorts and prototypes in the design/development of web resources
    • user testing

  • Modeling People Networks for Historical-Cultural Analysis


    In my historical research I keep wishing there was a way that I could easily and dynamically visualize the various layers of relationship that exist within (or across) the groups of people I’m studying.  In the past week I’ve made some terrific discoveries by dipping into genealogical resources, for example:  three of the dozen men involved in a Revolutionary-era business venture were closely related through marriage before any of it started because A had married the widowed mother of B while C had been married to B’s wife’s sister before she died quite young, perhaps in childbirth (still tracking that down). And my interest in the business venture comes from noticing a correlation between involvement in it and in a seemingly unrelated dispute in a religious group.

    I’ve looked at some genealogical software and it’s got room for lots of details, but is mostly geared toward showing trees: all someone’s ancestors or all someone’s descendants, and in that way is limited and flat.  What I want to see is more like a rhizome or a social molecule or a Facebook for historians with facets, metadata, footnotes and visualization tools (and sure, GIS) built in.  And it’s not just about family connections, but all manner of connections between people that may or may not end up being significant.

    Though the critical impulses may be similar, this poses a different methodological problem than working with specific texts via data mining or “culturomics” or network analysis, because the bits of evidence that add up to layers of relationship are gathered from many different idiosyncratic and specific sources in a process that isn’t close to being mechanizable yet (if ever). And my interest at this point is less in displaying some final product on the open Web (though that’s surely a worthy goal as well) then in visualizing the networks so that *I*can make better sense of them, for the purposes of interpretation of historical-cultural questions.

    So, if any aspect of this ethnographically-inspired historian’s digital fantasy appeals to you–how to specify it, build it, use it, improve it–I’d love to chat about it more.

  • CM-diss Revolution!!!


    Following up on this tweet, I like the idea of talking about CMS as dissertation, or maybe a part of academic discourse.

    One of the things that fell out of the BootCamp General Track was the idea that any website has a built-in worldview in its content model or in its data structures. I don’t have the link handy, but I think Ian Davis described another aspect on this as “code should be opinionated”.

    So, I’m thinking of the case that a dissertation is an argument for an approach to understanding a domain of knowledge. And, a content management system’s organization is also an implicit argument for an approach to understanding a domain of knowledge.

    Is there a practical way to link those up?

    Let’s discuss!

  • Everyday Accessibility


    Would anyone be interested in a discussion of practical, everyday things that can be done to make websites, syllabi, Word documents, Power Point presentations, and PDFs accessible? I myself am learning how to do this, and it’s astounding how simple it can be and how few people realize it. If we can train ourselves to make very small changes in the ways we create these items, it would make an immense difference to those using screenreaders or other assistive items to access your documents. We could also experiment with the free, open source screenreader NVDA (www.nvda-project.org/).

  • Installfest: XAMPP, WordPress, Omeka


    At THATCamp New England several weeks ago, I ran two non-BootCamp but BootCamp-like sessions on (essentially) turning your laptop into a basic local web development environment using XAMPP, and installing & configuring WordPress and Omeka within this environment. I have a long post in the works about this—the whys & wherefores, the process, the outcomes—but to keep this brief in this session-proposal context, I’ll simply say this…

    I’m a big fan of doing my part to empower people to take control of their own applications (e.g. going with WordPress (installed) vs WordPress.com (hosted), Omeka (installed) vs Omeka.net (hosted)). Sure, it pushes some people way out of their comfort zones, but more often than not what happens is that people realize technology is not scary and not nearly as difficult to control as they might have thought. Now, I’m not saying everyone should always run their own servers and eschew hosted solutions—there’s a time and a place for all situations—but I’m also a big fan of ensuring people have a working knowledge of the things about which they’re making decisions (I also don’t like self-described “non-technical” people being pushed around by “technical” people; I like to level playing fields whenever possible).

    Since this “session” was as much about explaining how web applications are put together (conceptually) and just how it is that your web browser magically displays content to you on demand, I took the time to explain a little bit about how the web works. Over the years, I’ve found that people take this process for granted; however, the only way you can really control a technology or a medium is to understand how it actually works (and then exploit that knowledge). Since DHers and related colleagues are supposedly in the business of (in part) understanding how technology intervenes in humanitistic inquiry, and how said inquiry continually shapes and reshapes technology, it stands to reason that we should all at least be able to explain the basics of web content delivery. So we started there, then talked about XAMPP (and *AMP in general), the connections between database, application platform, and content, and then put all the pieces together with installations.

    In the end, 15 or 20 people walked away with shiny new development environments on their machines, but more importantly a better understanding of how the web works, especially within an application framework. So, if any of you would be interested in such a session, I’d be happy to lead it. The nature of the explanations and processes makes it less THATCamp-y and more BootCamp-y, but it’s a rollicking good time….

    No prior knowledge is required—I promise.

  • General track followups


    Anyone interested in a hands-on Ruby or (or other) coding session, if we promise to get it installed before tomorrow?

  • GIS BootCamp Follow Up Session


    After a morning of exhilarating workshops on GIS and GoogleEarth by the Scholar’s Lab team, and with an afternoon of more fun to go, I am left with a head full of ideas for projects that I need to be hashed out with others. So, I am proposing a session for the weekend for others to re-hash what we’ve learned, and talk out the possibilities for new projects and applications for our respective areas of research and disciplines. Since the topics of each bootcamp track are pretty different, I think that this session should be restricted to the GIS Track’s topics. Another session could cover the other BootCamp.

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