Freebase boot camp

October 8th, 2010

Freebase is an open, creative-commons-licensed repository of structured data about over 12 million entities. Freebase has information about people, places, organisations, historical events, books, and all kinds of other things.  As an open database, we encourage data contributions on any subject from the community. And you can use Freebase’s data and API to build mashups or connect disparate data sets together.

We’d like to run a bootcamp to show off Freebase’s data and what you can do with it.  We’ll start with an overview and then get our hands dirty with some practical how-tos.

Some of the areas we can cover include:

  • overview of Freebase’s data (what do we have, where do we get it, what’s our coverage and quality)
  • MQL (our query language) and how to use it to ask Freebase questions
  • the Freebase API and hosted app development platform (Acre)
  • Freebase as ID/key repository, using Freebase to connect different data sets
  • Google Refine (previously known as Gridworks), using Gridworks to clean up, visualise, and reconcile data
  • how to create schema/vocabulary and add data to Freebase
  • Freebase and the semantic web/linked open data/RDF

There are two Freebase people attending (Kirrily and Jamie) so we’ll do this together and between us we should be able to cover just about any Freebase-related topic! Please come with questions or ideas and we’ll try and tailor our bootcamp content to what you want to know.

Visualization BootCamp

October 8th, 2010

You’ve been collecting data for months – and now you have text files, Excel spreadsheets and database tables filled with numbers, names, dates, and relationships – what do you do with it all? How do you make it all navigable?

I propose a Visualization BootCamp in which I’ll cover the basics of information visualization: why it’s effective and what kind of data it’s best suited for. I’ll introduce basic graphic design principles – how humans visually percieve difference, relative order, and togetherness, and use them to explain what kinds of visualizations work best for numbers, relationships, categories, timelines, and other kinds of data. All through, we will see real life examples of these principles at work in existing information visualizations, drawn from the humanities where possible, compared and contrasted with each other.

Lastly, I will cover the visualization tools available non-programmers, and give pointers to the huge number of  toolkits for programmers with varying degrees of experience.

Text Mining BootCamp

October 8th, 2010

Got a lot of digitized text? Not sure what to do with it? Try text mining!

I’d like to hold a Text Mining BootCamp for those interested in using computers to extract information from raw text. At one level above messy OCR, I will first introduce the teriminology and  possibilities – when we talk about the “information in text” what do we mean? What kinds of things has computational linguistics made it possible to extract from words, sentences, and document collections?  To make it concrete, I will work with example scholarly questions from real humanists, and show how to they are translated into computational terms.

Then the tools: I will introduce and demonstrate the text mining toolkits accessible to scholars with no programming experience, and touch upon other tools, suitable for more experienced programmers.

BootCamp Session on Software Access to Bib Data?

October 5th, 2010

As someone who works for the largest library cooperative in the world, and a THATCamp sponsor (OCLC), I’d be happy to do a session on how anyone can search our database of over 200 million book and serial records for items in libraries around the world and get the data back in RSS and Atom XML formats for mashing up. This might tie in well with Raymond Yee’s suggested mashup session, either as an example or as a follow-on. Raymond and I go way back.

This same service can also return HTML-formatted citations in all the major citation formats, so users of your local service can simply copy and paste the text into their paper.

We call it the WorldCat Basic API, and it is a machine view of but without the journal articles (contractual obligations prevent us from making the journal article data available). I will have handouts on it if anyone is interested.

I will also be happy to find out how libraries can better serve the needs of tech-savvy humanists, which I can take back to OCLC Research where I work. With about 50  research scientists, program officers, and software engineers, we are the closest thing there is to a library Xerox PARC.

Bootcamp Ideas and Offerings

October 5th, 2010

There have been a lot of questions about Bootcamp sessions, so I thought I’d weigh in.  Rather than pre-define these, we’re going to try treating them just like other sessions (the main difference is that they are introductory workshops in digital skills), and they’ll be proposed on Saturday morning, unless folks have the chance to post them here first (please do!).  There will be a chance to combine them with others or break them apart based on interest, skill level, etc., just like sessions.

As a sneak preview though, here are some that have been offered in applications:

  • How to use Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Fusion Tables
  • Basics of Drupal
  • Text analysis
  • Creating taxonomies
  • Linked Data: Creating RDF
  • Linked Data: Using Freebase and ACRE Apps
  • Digital music tools
  • Using Flickr for collections

This is just a sampling.  There were just too many excellent ideas for general sessions and bootcamps to list, but I hope this gives a little better idea of what kinds of things will be on offer this weekend.

Can we have one too?

October 4th, 2010

Julie Meloni will teach a Bootcamp workshop on programming for Humanists at the NE meeting. Can we have one of those as well? I’m not even sure what it is that I need to learn but I know that I need to learn it.

Bootcamp Session: Omeka?

October 4th, 2010

I have an interest in creating exhibits or collections with Omeka both for my project and in the classroom, so possibly this bootcamp session might have a dual focus or perhaps there’s another way to insert pedagogy into another bootcamp session?

  • Using Omeka to build digital scholarly editions.
  • Using Omeka in the undergraduate classroom — how to integrate into the curriculum with learning goals, assignments, etc.
  • Introducing Omeka to the library staff — how to best explain this in terms that the library will value.

mobile augmented reality for poets & other non-programmers

October 1st, 2010

Here’s my proposal for a hands-on bootcamp workshop: I’d like to teach interested folks how to create their own mobile augmented reality experiences quickly, easily and with no programming skills required.

Mobile augmented reality (AR) turns your mobile phone into a magic lens that reveals hidden stories about the world. In this workshop you will learn the basics of building mobile AR experiences for the iPhone & Android phones, using easy web-based tools that do not require any programming experience. The specific tools I’ll teach are the Layar mobile AR platform and the companion Hoppala authoring tool. The two requirements you’ll need are a laptop with web access, and an iPhone 3Gs (or later) or a 3G Android phone with internal GPS and compass (most of them).

Sound like fun? Here’s an example screenshot from a layer we did for the 01SJ Biennial last month:

mobile AR at 2010 01SJ Biennial

A grab-bag of session ideas

September 29th, 2010

There are numerous topics that I’m interested in discussing at THATCampSF.  Here are a few:

  • Rapid digital tool-building experiments.  I can share insights from my work on CHNM’s One Week | One Tool team.
  • Using WordPress’ CMS features for building an online CV/portfolio.  Recently I used WP3.0 as a platform for Chapman University’s Faculty Promotion & Tenure ePortfolios, and can share my work on that project as well as suggest possibilities for future plugin/widget development that would streamline this process.
  • Strategies for building local DH communities, via sites like DHSoCal, and also through creating & hosting a California-based DH summer institute that’s loosely-modeled on the work done by University of Victoria’s DHSI.
  • The impact of social media on the terrain of humanities scholarship.  I can contribute my experience based on promoting and podcasting Yale’s “Past’s Digital Presence” conference.
  • Also, I would very much like to attend BootCamp sessions on: writing WordPress plugins and open-source tools for mapping projects.
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