October 5th, 2010

I want to talk about failure!

It’s the thing that keeps us (i.e. me) awake at night: fearing it, replaying past mistakes, obsessing over couldawouldashouldas. So many people (i.e. I) have a negative attitude towards failure when there’s so much more to it. Bumps along the road teach us what didn’t work – and if we’re paying attention, what not to try again. I hate the idea of failing and I know I’m not alone.

Everyone has a fail story to share – whether it’s a project, a manuscript, a relationship, an education… Let’s talk about getting past the fear, getting over the past, and moving towards success in incremental bits. And because sharing my failures isn’t embarrassing enough, I’d like to propose we end with some (low-aerobic) Scottish Country Dancing (link is to youtube). What session on failure is complete without a chance to dance with your colleagues?

Of course, if there’s no interest in #fail we could just dance the whole time. I’d like to find a project linking dancing and digital humanities and maybe something will come up?

[Who am I? Today I’m a sessional (i.e. adjunct) instructor in History and Women’s Studies at the University of Windsor, a social media specialist for Grad Studies and Public Affairs, and a web developer on the side. By training and passion I’m an historian with emphases in feminist, gender, and oral histories. I may be someone else tomorrow.]

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 WorldCat.org 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.

Pedagogy & Digital

October 4th, 2010

Finally, this is the reason that I’m going to THATCamp — to learn how to incorporate more digital into my undergraduate classes.  Most of my courses have this kind of component, but I’m wondering if we can also discuss how to create a project-centered course that focuses students on producing something.  In literary studies, we don’t do this very often. Do you have a model? How about those in libraries or industry? How does project-centered work begin, where does it fail, where does it succeed? I think we can take advantage of the Silicon Valley imperative for working together and translate that skill to the classroom.

Mark-Up Languages – Standards?

October 4th, 2010

There has been lots of talk over Humanist-L and in backchannels about the standardized mark-up language.  TEI is the one I’ve seen most used, and I can read most TEI.  It’s also becoming automated with some recently distributed program materials (or pseudo-automated).  However, my university library doesn’t use TEI. For this session, perhaps we can discuss mark-up languages for big digital projects (scholarly editions are my area) and how to facilitate working with the university library to create, maintain and sustain using these mark-up languages.  What other platforms are out there?  Is there something else out-of-the-box?

Under-served and overwhelmed or underwhelmed and over-served?

October 1st, 2010

Title in need of work but for session suggestions I have two areas of interest:

I want to learn more about the possibilities of reaching under-served audiences and making new platforms more accessible for older users.  Feeling in need of conversation and brainstorming about – what, how, why, when, who for? etc. Very interested in the language museums and galleries use to communicate with their publics and their own perceptions and measurements for their level of success. Are the available evaluation tools any use? What is really being communicated? What do audiences really need?

Also, during the course of research for my thesis on multi-lingual interpretation I learnt that in 2008 only 9% of museum audiences in the US were from minorities and yet by 2034, the US will be a majority of minorities. According to a report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project in 2010, African Americans and English-speaking Latinos use cell phones at a much higher rate to access the web than whites (wow I hate all these classifications). Is any of this useful information and if it is why is it? Or, are these statistics irrelevant and detrimental?

History Beyond the Facts

September 29th, 2010

I’m looking for people to collaborate with to build linked datasets for history. Historical knowledge can be vague and uncertain. The form in which historical knowledge is communicated is as much a part of its content as the “facts,” yet typical approaches to open and linked data focus solely on facts and very little on form. What can the open and linked data community learn from the challenges of grappling with history? What new forms of public history might emerge if historians open up their research notes and intermingle them with those of genealogists, archivists, curators, hobbyists and tourists? What forms of “historical logic” are amenable to formalization, if any? How might “distant reading” techniques be applied to historical scholarship to find, for example, patterns of emplotment?

For more of my thoughts on some of these topics, see my recent article in the Bulletin of ASIS&T.

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.

Session idea: Data, Data Everywhere: What’s Happening on the Metadata Front

September 29th, 2010

The title is silly, so free to change it.

Thank you, Jon, for suggesting I suggest this.  The basic idea is such — digital collections thrive and decline in part on the metadata, and there’s a lot going on in the area of data. Linked Data appears to promise the implementation of the Semantic Web that we’ve all been waiting for, and Open Data has becoming a rallying point in the private and public sectors. A session on what people are working on in terms of acquiring, enhancing and/or disseminating metadata for their library, archival and other collections would be very informative, I believe.  What successes have been seen/experienced, what attempts failed to yield results, what questions/doubts remain? Are institutions and vendors on-board?

Feel free to hone this, give it more focus, break it up …

Cheers, Eli

My bio:

A major reason why I went to law school is to learn more about legal issues that affect libraries, especially in the digital arena (copyright, cyberlaw and First Amendment/free speech). I’m interested in library technology, especially the use of Web 2.0 software and protocols to make information more accessible to  information seekers, students, users, etc. I see THATCamp Bay Area as a great juxtaposition of tech, formal and informal education initiatives, and open information flows (Creative Commons, Open Access, Open Content, Big Data). I hope to be able to contribute my legal and library knowledge and be part of the ongoing library/open content/tech community.

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