With THATCamp Pacific Northwest coming up next month, it’s about time I posted about my experiences at THATCamp Austin. I think I’ve been delaying this post for a while out of simultaneous excitement that I got to participate and fear that I’ll be exposed as a big groupie of all the amazing folks who participated in THATCamp.
This year was the first regional session of the original THATCamp, or “The Humanities and Technology Camp,” first held by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. As a user-generated “unconference” consisting of discussion groups, training sessions, and “dork shorts” demonstrating new projects, THATCamp is an ideal kind of spontaneous, creative outlet for newbie archivists/digital humanists/historians. Lisa Grimm was one of the archivists in attendance in June and wrote this inspiring post about the potential for THATCamp in Austin.
A few weeks later, THATCamp Austin was born (care of Lisa Grimm, Ben Brumfield, Peter Keane, and Jeanne Kramer-Smyth). As I read the excited tweets about the program and encouraging news that anyone interested in digital humanities could apply, my hesitation about being a public library archivist/special collections librarian among digital humanities folks began to subside. I applied and my idea to discuss redefining the boundaries of memory institutions was accepted!
Overall, I could sense that the environment at THATCamp would be supportive, energetic, and a lot of fun. My enthusiasm grew as I got to the UT-Austin lecture hall where our event would be held. A narrow hallway was filled with smiling faces, free pizza, and free t-shirts thanks to some angel sponsors and a few incredibly hardworking organizers.
We settled ourselves in an auditorium in the basement of the building, with live tweets popping up on the overhead screen. Open discussion, creativity, and freedom of thought was the order of the evening — I was overjoyed! We shouted out our potential topics and organized ourselves on loosely-related themes. I chose to participate in the session on crowdsourcing in digital projects and was a discussion leader for the session on “web x.x and diversity and community.”
I didn’t take notes. For the first time in my career, my ubiquitous notebook sits devoid of scribbled entries, doodles, or quotes. Perhaps it’s because I found it faster to type than to write…so most of my remarks, in reverse chronological order, can be seen via tweets:
- panel: completed! have to say, definitely more enjoyable than research forum #thatcamp10:59 PM Aug 11th from web
- advocacy helps ppl know why archivists are impt and attracts new archivists to the field #thatcamp10:55 PM Aug 11th from web
- how far does ownership go? original object and representations of that object #thatcamp10:52 PM Aug 11th from web
- archives were something that archivists do to everybody else #thatcamp10:50 PM Aug 11th from web
- academic libraries can teach public libraries to teach community archives about preservation etc #thatcamp10:45 PM Aug 11th from web
- community finding aids show what resources are in your area #thatcamp10:43 PM Aug 11th from web
- ask community archives what THEY need to preserve their records (ppl know what is important) #thatcamp10:35 PM Aug 11th from web
- http://archivesandidentitie… promotes community archives autonomy #thatcamp includes best practice guide for archivists10:31 PM Aug 11th from web
- digital inhumanities, digital imperialism = digitizing content in third world by subscription-based corporations #thatcamp10:27 PM Aug 11th from web
- communities want control over their own records #thatcamp10:08 PM Aug 11th from web
- digital inequalities = digital divide (new term) #thatcamp who has access?10:07 PM Aug 11th from web
- make that atom… #thatcamp #mefail10:00 PM Aug 11th from web
- “oh, this is WINDOWS…” #thatcamp9:53 PM Aug 11th from web
- Texas Heritage Online #thatcamp http://www.texasheritageonl… to search digital resources throughout TX9:49 PM Aug 11th from web
- archives reference blog #thatcamp http://itech.dickinson.edu/…9:44 PM Aug 11th from web
- potential to use worldcat to map an item’s holding locations #thatcamp9:41 PM Aug 11th from web
- mark matienzo Exhibit mapping library collections #thatcamp9:39 PM Aug 11th from web
- distributed biography now available and open to the public #thatcamp9:38 PM Aug 11th from web
- demo of Distributed Biography #thatcamp http://distributedbiography… shared stories about a person’s life9:36 PM Aug 11th from web
- demo of the Learning Record #thatcamp http://bit.ly/A1Owi9:34 PM Aug 11th from web
- Julie Brumfield diaries #thatcamp http://bit.ly/dhxqI9:28 PM Aug 11th from web
- dork shorts up next #thatcamp9:23 PM Aug 11th from web
- crowdsourcing rocks! if we can make it work #thatcamp9:19 PM Aug 11th from web
- the brooklyn posse is a game to tag museum objects #thatcamp9:04 PM Aug 11th from web
- tagging for yourself is more important #thatcamp8:55 PM Aug 11th from web
- familysearch offers “crash course in paleography,” “double keying” by their volunteers to ensure more accurate contributions #thatcamp8:40 PM Aug 11th from web
- familysearch.org has great resources to push their resources out there, shared transcription by volunteers #thatcamp8:37 PM Aug 11th from web
- at crowdsourcing session. lots of interesting folks here #thatcamp8:29 PM Aug 11th from web
- looks like i’ll be part of the group discussing web x.x and community/diversity #thatcamp8:19 PM Aug 11th from web
- scheduling central at #thatcamp8:18 PM Aug 11th from web
- On bus. U Texas here we come! #thatcamp6:48 PM Aug 11th from Twitterrific
- Just got an Evian spray to the face by @ jgreen316:37 PM Aug 11th from Twitterrific
- THATCamp group at 5th and Congress waiting for bus. #thatcamp6:36 PM Aug 11th from Twitterrific
Perhaps the best thing about THATCamp was being given the opportunity to speak freely about new concepts with intelligent, creative folks in a non-competitive, relatively unstructured environment. No one had to submit a proposal a year in advance (many of these projects and ideas will have morphed multiple times within a few months). I relished the chance to meet some of the emerging contributors to my field and have conversations with my colleagues without the constraints of a formal panel. I am so grateful to have been there and cannot wait to see what concepts and innovations come out of future THATCamps!