Thoughts on THATCamp NYC 2012

I attended THATCamp NYC this weekend, and it was a great time, and I met some cool people, and really got to know some classmates. The organizers did a great job, served some really great food, and beyond just being gracious they made sure everyone knew where to go, and when. It was really inspiring to see so many great minds from the NYC area do their best to explain some very complex projects in time limits often under 5 minutes. Here is a list of those I managed to scribble down in my notes:

NYU School of Medicine – Literature Arts and Medicine Database – Medical Humanities

CUNY – JiTP Editorial Collective

CUNY – Writing Studies Tree


NYU/Cornell – “Archive Notebook”

Greenwich Village History – NYU

Princeton – Hypertext Research Platform (19th Century Manuscripts)

Yaddo Circles – Fordham

Pratt – Linked Jazz

Green Maps

Fordham History Dept – South Street Seaport

John Jay Library – DH Curation Guide

More Thoughts:There seem to be a lot of projects dealing with maps, trees, and timelines and a lot of debate about whether or not there should be a deeper look at coding in the Digital Humanities. I heard one of the senior THATCampers, a Computer Scientist, emphasizing collaboration between computer scientists and scholars in the humanities; He suggested that when humanists go after coding skills, mistakes are made that slow down processes. His example was that learning a language like PHP was most often counterproductive. This struck me as funny, as my old high school friend (a computer scientist out of North Carolina) said I was making a huge mistake when I told him I was trying to teach myself PHP so I might understand these WordPress How-To books I’ve invested in.

I think that while collaboration (with Computer Scientists) may be important, this act is easier said than performed. My sentiment leans toward institutions offering computer science courses designed to speak to scholars more at home with humanities based cirriculuum over traditional computer science pedagogy. That said, there were some really great workshops on software essentials that would be of interest to a Digital Humanist of either opinion: Mapping software like Gephi, Home Server software like W/L/MAMP, and collection management systems like Omeka.

I was also involved in a discussion about how archives can be explored online, which seemed to shift into a conversation about making archives relevant in the blogosphere. I brought up my opinion that visual or acoustic textuality often becomes a necessary driving mechanism for an audience considering time devotion to long form offerings. In other words if you want to drive an audience to a long form piece of writing, there should be an immediate and novel visual or aural cue to give license of value to the writing. At least one other attendee thought I was “on to something” but still seemed to think I was talking about marketing, which is a word I hate to use/hear outside of the corporate sphere.

I could ramble a few hours more on THATCamp, but it is getting late and I have homework. I will conclude by saying it was an experience I will definitely value, and it definitely gave me some really great insights into the state of humanities projects nested in the digital world. Look forward to seeing a lot of the attendees that are doing great work get more and more recognized for it as time moves forward.

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