Editing Modernism in Canada


July 6, 2010

THATCamp London: Day 1

**Cross-posted from my blog.**

Today is the first day of THATCamp London, and I can already feel my inner geek singing with joy to be back with the DH crowd. In the pre-un-conference coffee room, I met up with some friends from DHSI (hello Anouk and Matteo!). Here are my “written on the fly” conference notes (to borrow from Geoffrey Rockwell’s methodology for his DHSI conference report):

– We begin in a beautiful lecture hall, the KCL Anatomy Theatre and Museum. I already feel the intellectual juices flowing.
– Dan Cohen provides introductions and a history of THATCamp. Notes that unstructured un-conferences can be incredibly productive. (We are creating, synthesizing, thinking). He recalls that the first THATCamp was controlled chaos.
– Dan setting some ground rules. He is adamant, “It’s okay to have fun at THATCamp!”  (Examples: A group at one THATCamp who played ARG with GPS, another created robotic clothing!)
– We are asked to provide a 30 second to 1 minute summary of the proposals before we vote. Other sessions are proposed as well. Looks like a great roundup.

Sessions related to my own research that I am interested in attending:
social tools to bring researchers and practitioners together
living digital archives
Participatory, Interdisciplinary, and Digital
critical mass in social DH applications
– visualization

In my mind, the winner of the best topic/session title is “Herding Archivists.”

The beta schedule of the conference is now up: http://thatcamplondon.org/schedule/

Session 1: Data for Social Networking
The main questions and ideas we consider:
– What kind of methods/tools are people using for analysing data?
– Ethical issues in data collection and gathering?
– How do you store ‘ephemeral’ digital content
– What do we want to find out from our social network data?
– What Tools for Social Network Interrogation and Visualization?
– Our wishlist for working with social network data …

You can also check out the comprehensive Google Doc for the session.

Session 2: Stories, Comics, Narratives
– Major issues: 1) Standards, 2) Annotation, 3) Visualization
– narratives and semantic technologies
– difficulty of marking up complex texts such as comic books, tv shows
– Dan Cohen, how might we go about standardizing or making available different documents? Is markup always the answer?
– One participant asks, does it matter what format the document is in as long as the content is there?
– Once again, standardization is a key question. Once the data is collected, shouldn’t it be made available?
– Question of IP and copyright is also raised, and generates some heated discussion.
– “Semantic Narratives” and the BBC’s Mythology Engine.

Session 3: Digital Scholarly Editions
– A productive round-table on the future of the digital scholarly edition.
– Major issues: standardization, resources, audience

For discussion notes, please see the Google Doc for the session.

Session 4: Using Social Tools for Participatory Research Bringing Researchers and Practitioners Together
– Framework for academics to connect
-Finding connections, drawing on enthusiasm and community: http://en.logilogi.org/#/do/logis and http://www.londonlives.com.
– We need tools that collate information and resources

See the Google Doc for the session.

All in all, it was a very productive day.

And just for fun: Doctor Who Subtitle Search (Thanks, Anouk!)

One Response to “THATCamp London: Day 1”

  1. langa says:

    I need to add that the Digital Scholarly Editions session was very well managed – by Meg – and this was the reason we had such a good discussion. I find I am a big fan of having a Google Doc backchannel going on during the face-to-face discussion. You can note down thoughts and ideas before you forget them, & put URLs and project titles down so that those who can’t attend will still have a resource to consult. (I’ve been wondering how this could be used in a classroom context, to get shyer students to contribute and ask questions, and also to produce a record of what was discussed.)

    Meg & I were talking afterwards about the difficulties of standardising scholarly apparatus among by creating a kind of SourceForge equivalent for digital editions (as was suggested by one of the participants who added more detail in the Google doc summary). It is difficult, because as humanists we are trained not to be satisfied with the categories others create for us. Moreover, we have a strong ethos of working independently, so that the mode that software developers engage in – borrowing code rather than writing it from scratch, as it is quicker and easier – is not one that comes particularly naturally to us. It might be more efficient to use someone else’s literature review in your dissertation, with a few tweaks and additions here and there, but none of us are ever going to do it, even with the proper attribution, if what we need to prove is an original contribution to knowledge! Not to give up on the idea of a SourceForge equivalent for digital editions, just reflecting on the difficulties that face people who have one foot in the digital/developer world and the other in the world of the academy.

    I also went to a session on Visualization. There are some very beautiful examples given in the Google Doc summary (http://ow.ly/27JSl). Unfortunately the session devolved somewhat into specialised technical talk between a handful of people and we moved away from the humanist-oriented questions I was interested in (eg. how best to get visualizations working in tandem with digital editions).

    All in all, THATCamp was a new and very welcome diversion from the usual conference format (& yes, there is a particular pleasure in being geeky in a room full of other geeky people). It is also a new experience to be at a conference where there is a constant stream of tweets (hashtag #THATcamp) from people lamenting that they can’t be there to join in!

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