Learning after THATcamp

October 9th, 2010

Once a person sees the possibilities of mixing tech & humanities what’s a realistic avenue for acquiring the skills necessary to do digital humanities projects and research? Is it worth it to go back to school for a computer science degree? What about one of the new digital humanities undergrad programs? Is open courseware/iTunesU a viable option for acquiring skills and ways of thinking? What about just jumping in with an idea?

Starting a new project with insufficient resources (like skills) can quickly get you overwhelmed/putting things on hold/walking away. DH Answers and twitter are good places to go for help but how does one become a digital humanist?

There are links between this proposal and the ones on mentoring and failure that I proposed earlier, but here I’m really asking about traditional vs. non-traditional pathways to learning.  After this weekend, how do we keep learning?

Disney, Stories and Ownership

October 9th, 2010

Disneyland, California Adventure 10/7/2010

I just came from Disneyland’s California Adventure, where I was “under the Golden Gate Bridge.” Now I am off to THATCampSF, thanks to Jon Voss, not far from the Golden Gate Bridge…more like under the Bay Bridge, but…

Right now I am a bit overwhelmed by concepts of narrative theory, as Francesco Spagnolo highlights and “games, art and Story Telling.”

I am feeling very “meta” right now, and looking forward to THATCampSF.

Mapping the digital humanities

October 9th, 2010

I would like to dedicate a session to creating a conceptual map of the digital humanities, both as we represent them at THATCamp Bay Area, and as we collectively understand them.

This particular THATCamp is unique in that it’s the first not hosted at an academic institution, the first to consciously try to include not only non-academics, but also cultural workers from many different sectors.  I think it’s a rare opportunity to make a map of the Zeitgeist.

We could map not only the disciplines we represent (literature, history, geography, dance, music, art, etc.), but also the “modes” in which we work (academic, museum, library, non-profit, for-profit).  And perhaps there are other coordinates we could bring to bear as we try to draw The (or A) Big Picture of DH.

I don’t have a particular mapping technology in mind: as far as I’m concerned, a cool-looking doodle on butcher paper (maybe captured by a cell-phone camera) would be good enough, as long as the ideas are good.  But with all the mapping savvy I suspect we have in the group, maybe someone can offer something more high-tech.

Simple User Experience Research

October 9th, 2010

We’d like to talk about user research in the nonprofit context.

We hope to have a straightforward and productive conversation about effective user research — without going into too much industry jargon or elaborate procedure. We’re thinking it would be useful to have a beginner’s session for people who have a nagging sense that you “should be” doing user testing on your website or web apps, but aren’t sure exactly what that really means.How much does it cost? What is the most effective way to get feedback about a site? How many people do you have to talk to? Do you really have to write down everything they say?

This session will cover techniques of free and low-cost user research, including the use of tools for remote screensharing sessions with participants. If appropriate we could have a more technical session that really gets into the details of the interview procedure.

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.

One Day On Earth 10.10.10

October 8th, 2010

I’d like to contribute to the One Day On Earth project which overlaps with THATCamp, but the themes run close enough.


If anyone else is interested in collaborating on this at THATCamp, speak up with how you see yourself fitting in!

Taxonomy Mini Boot Camp

October 8th, 2010

I’m willing to talk taxonomy for 90 minutes, so who’s with me?  Let’s talk as much as we can about:

What are taxonomies? Who are taxonomists? Terms and relationships; software; human and machine indexing; taxonomy structures, displays, planning, design, creation, implementation and evolution.

And: why it is good for the THATCamp crowd.


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.

Sign up for Dork Shorts

October 8th, 2010

During the Saturday night festivities, we’ll be doing live Dork Shorts, or 2 minute talks in which participants can wow the crowd with their projects, in whatever form they like. You’ll have access to a mic, a projector, the a/v system, and the dance floor for exactly 2 minutes. Bring it!

Sign up to present your Dork Shorts here, and view the lineup of presentations and links to more details here on Saturday night.

Photo: Robert Bejil Photography on Flickr.
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