Archive for the ‘Proceedings of THATCamp’ Category

  • Documentation as Pedagogy and Community


    Wow.  That is a really buzz-wordy title.  I had better explain myself.

    As a tool builder and user I have become really interested in finding ways to improve technical documentation, particularly for the tools we as digital humanists build to do our work.  Good documentation helps a project at every stage of its development.  But we all hate to write (or sketch) documentation.  Instead of thinking of documentation as a final chore, one more thing to do after the program works, maybe we could integrate it into the process of the developing the software.  Highly commented code and up-to-date diagrams would dramatically decrease the amount of time it takes to put together a useful README file once the coding stops.

    I see documentation as a chance to explain our work as digital humanists.  Writing good documentation requires getting into the mindset of your users (often non-technically trained humanities scholars) and explaining what you’ve done from their point of view.  As educators, this is a familiar exercise.  We can teach our colleagues and students through how we explain our projects.

    If we are building open source tools we will also encourage a community of users by providing them with a helpful place to find answers.  There is a generosity and even warmth that comes from thoughtful, helpful documentation, just as inadequate documentation can make someone feel stupid, slighted, or unwanted as a user/developer.

    I’ve created a schema visualization tool (DAVILA) to help me create better documentation for my own relational databases.  If anyone else has suggestions I would love to hear them.

  • the embodied materiality of digital cultures


    “Visible and mobile, my body is a thing among things; it is caught in the fabric of the world” –Merleau-Ponty

    My body is “visible, and mobile;” it also hears, tastes, touches, interacts, and can be sedentary and blind at times. It is “a thing among things,” one object among many, “caught in fabric of the world.”  To be caught is to be contained; the world is always already in motion, ready to enfold, envelope, enframe; always already producing, doing, learning, reconfiguring, erasing, removing, unbecoming; filled with potentiality and change.

    The ‘fabric of the world’ invites texture and color, rhythm and weaving, resistance and movement; the haptic senses are fully incorporated in the body’s interactions within space and time.

    How then can this texture, this materiality, this haptic fabric of space and our very physical bodies be rendered in a digital space? How do raced and gendered and sexualized inequities get carried over wholesale to digital spaces? What are the possibilities for an inclusive digitally embodied materiality that allows and embraces self-expression at the margins while also allowing information about bodies to be useful at meta-levels? How can this be defined at a systems level in order to create an inclusive practice for digital culture creation?

    I’m interested in a discursive digitally embodied materiality- how can we think about information differently when designing databases? What current best practices might be tweaked to enable meaning at the level of personal meaning for the user, while still providing meaningful data at other levels of granularity? What standards do we take for granted, and what would the center look like if we designed for the margins?

    keywords: systems, categories, classifications, standards, best practices, database design, discursive materiality, queerness, marginality

  • Learning DH the DIY Way


    This session idea comes out of the experience of working this semester, with Matt Gold, to launch the CUNY Digital Humanities Initiative. It’s a brand new group that aims to build community among CUNY DHers, and raise awareness of DH at CUNY more  generally. We emphasize that all are welcome to join – “faculty, students, and technologists, experienced practitioners and beginning DHers, enthusiasts and skeptics” – and there’s been a great response so far.

    With this though comes some anxiety (especially if you’re a born worrier). We built a Resource Guide to help introduce newcomers to the field, but then there’s the next set of questions: “How do I get started? What do I need to learn? How do I learn it?”

    On the one hand I’m convinced that the DIY model of DH – DHer as self-motivated tinkerer – is the right one, at least for us. And since we’re funding-free we couldn’t support a more passive model anyway. But I feel responsibility too for providing new DHers (I’m one myself) with some help on the way up the learning curve. There’s a lot of work in progress on DH education but, in the meantime, what can we do to make the DIY model more practically accessible for new DHers in our group, and other groups like ours?

    Very excited to see Julie Meloni on the Camper list – it would be great to get her thoughts on the best approaches, given her project to “Develop self-paced open access DH curriculum for mid-career scholars otherwise untrained.”

    I’d also be very keen to pick up from Chris Forster’s post on HASTAC about this issue and its relationship to how, and how quickly, DH might develop as a field (what the Landscape of Digital Humanists might look like, if you will).

    And, in hack mode, would love to hear your ideas on how can we enhance the Guide to provide or point to some better answers here.

  • Intro to CMSs 1


    Here’s a link to Raf’s part of the Intro to CMSs BootCamp session

    Here’s links and images from Patrick’s parts of the Intro to CMSs BootCamp session.

    WP example sites

    UMW History Department
    UMW Geography Department

    Serena Epstein (freelance web design)

    Omeka example sites

    Lincoln at 200
    Civil War Hospitals (student site)
    E Belle’s Omeka Sandbox

  • Join Dzian! for a Night of Nakashi Dance Overload on Saturday


    I’m excited to announce that my band Dzian! — this year’s THATCampVA house band — has prepared a Nakashi Go-Go Dance Overload for Saturday night. At 12th Street Tap House, We will play two sets of vintage pan-Asian surf and garage rock, some obscure, some among your favorites perhaps. A few numbers will feature our very Nakashi Dancers, who will be performing their own brilliant (and historically accurate) dance choreography. As the night deepens, we expect to host a go-go dance-off. If you’re curious about the format of the dance-off, check out this video, circa 1966, Japan.

    Geek Bash with Dzian!
    Time: 9pm – midnight or later
    Location: 12th Street Tap House, 1202 W. Main Street, Charlottesville
    Attire: Dress to Dance – Think 1960s
    RSVP: Facebook Event

  • Classrooms of the future (and today)


    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?  [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, issues raised in part in Rebecca and Caroline’s proposal.] For how long and in what ways will/should the classroom change?

    I’m still mulling (see my post here for one exploration of these ideas as well as this one from a colleague and this project on the spaces in which we learn), 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, and museums occupy now and in the years to come.   It might also well overlap in fruitful ways with the proposal to talk about archives in the digital world.

    Anyone else interested in talking about learning spaces?

  • Digital Archaeology


    A topic I’m interested in examining is Digital Archaeology. I’m not sure if there are any archaeologists besides me in attendance (a shame if it’s the case, considering how much amazing archaeology there is in the Chesapeake), but I think there is a fantastic discussion to be had about what is being done and what can be done in digital archaeology. At this point, digital archaeology has emerged in three areas: Field Technology/Methodology, Research Databases, and Public Engagement.

    Field Technology has always been a field that has adopted technologies from other fields and applied them to archaeological methods. GIS and advanced survey equipment have been the major technological adaptions, but the recent use of the iPad in Pompeii opens the door for (finally) people to conduct paperless excavations.

    A number of digital research databases have emerged, including the Comparative Archaeological Study of Colonial Chesapeake Culture and the Digital Archaeological Archives of Comparative Slavery (DAACS), housed at Monticello. These databases allow researchers to easily access numerous reports and data sets about archaeological sites, making comparative analysis that would have otherwise been expensive and time consuming a much more affordable venture.

    Public Engagement has been the most evident use of the digital environment. Archaeology has a long tradition of “public archaeology”, and new technology provides us with a number of alternatives to how we conduct our operations. Most popular are the digital reconstructions of towns and buildings such as at Colonial Williamsburg, where they are in the process of recreating the entire colonial city as it was in 1776. Such a venture is heavily reliant on archaeological research conducted at the museum. At Monticello, there is a fantastic digital representation of the entire plantation, highlighting the archaeological projects conducted throughout. Also, my work with the MSU Campus Archaeology Program has used digital social media as a means of engaging the public in learning about the process of archaeology, and to make discoveries along with us in the field. You can read a bit more about my work here (The use of digital media and digital technologies to engage community in the process of our work is a separate topic. I can write more if there’s interest. Post a comment below!).

    So, my questions are this: What are some of the challenges faced by archaeologists with these emerging technologies? How do we train students to use and engage with these technologies? How do we present them as useful things worth investing in to our colleagues/advisors/administrators? How do these technologies change the way we operate when collecting data? Do we need to change the way we think about collecting data so that it is more appropriately geared towards new technologies? What types of data would be useful for non-archaeologists, such as museum professionals, to be able to use in the public engagement portion of our discipline? What are some other new technologies that could fit into these categories, or what are some other categories of archaeology that could be added to the picture?

    These are some of the things I’m thinking about…feel free to add on below!

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