Posts Tagged ‘thatcampSE’

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THATCamp 6: Libraries and Scholars

March 17, 2011

This post covers the Sunday of THATCamp SE – sessions I did not attend in person.  The Athens contingent was totally exhausted, and collectively decided to not commute on Sunday.  But I pulled up the #thatcamp twitter feed (archived here by Adelle Frank) and was able to eavesdrop, and even participate virtually a little bit.

The first session I overheard was on Subject Guide Development and Use – basically, LibGuides.  I saw on Twitter that they were interested in alternatives to LibGuides, and tweeted that we at UGA use Library a la Carte, an open-source software developed by Oregon State, and we like it better than LibGuides for its clean design and clear distinction between class and subject guides.  And they pulled it up in the session and looked at it!  Go team remote conference participation.

After that there was a very lively twitter conversation coming from the session on Envisioning Librarian-Scholar Communications, with a collectively-edited Google doc developing as the session went on.  Miriam Posner later posted a great summary of the conversation. This was wonderful to observe remotely, seeing a lot of scholars in the session gain a greater understanding of what librarians do, where their special expertise lies, and how librarians want to, and can, work with scholars in support of teaching and research.

Phew, done!  And only, um, 11 days after the conference ended.

Previous posts on THATCamp SE:

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THATCamp 5: Open-Access, Kindles, Crowdsourcing

March 16, 2011

Okay, if I don’t get more terse we’re never going to get through THATCamp SE.  Day one continued:

At lunch we had “dork shorts” which were timed 3-minute talks on anything anybody wanted to show.  Topics included a documentary about an Atlanta punk band, a blog about rural life which featured a lovely photo of a ca. 1940 man with his pet skunk, and UGA’s <emma> program, used in writing classes, which allows collaborative markup of student papers.

After lunch 1: Open Access Publishing, hosted by me. I was a little thoughtless at 9am and put things on the whiteboard that I thought would make good discussions, forgetting that then I would have to a) attend and b) HOST the discussions.  And people signed up for them!  This was number 1.  It was kind of a general conversation, with several librarians present who had experience hosting open access journals using the Open Journal Systems software (at Duke, GA Tech, and UGA), a grad student who works on the OA journal Southern Spaces at Emory, and a faculty member who edits a major journal that is not open-access.  We talked about business models (Mellon support, departmental support, support by an organization like ATLA), OA in Humanities as opposed to Sciences, and reasons why OA is important (I especially liked the mention of the need to make research accessible to communities being studied, in some fields.)

After lunch 2: My colleague from UGA, Caroline Barratt, and I hosted an intimate conversation about our current project using Kindles for all course readings in an English class.  This was very productive for us – we took a lot of notes about interesting questions to ask when we hold focus groups later this semester – and those present seemed to enjoy it also, with a wide-ranging discussion including practical issues as well as big topics like “what is the book” and “what is reading.”

After lunch 3: Crowdsourcing Digital Humanities Projects; I was hosting again. I was hoping to get advice on how to manage the human side of a project like the Ancient World Open Bibliographies. I was struck by the great diversity of experiences and expertise present at this session.  Participants talked about: a women’s collective project in India, crowdsourcing the transcription of the Cardinal Newman letters at Emory (interestingly, the volunteers were not collected using the internet, but came mostly via newsletters and news articles), open-access software projects, and a project to collaboratively write a latin textbook. We talked about the importance of passion in volunteers (which is why there’s a Wookieepedia) – and how it can’t be artificially created – and, failing passion, the need to “make it fun” or even sneak crowdsourcing into a project (like ReCaptcha).

By this point someone in another session was beginning to tweet about zombies, so the UGA contingent regrouped and headed back to Athens.  I don’t know how anyone had the energy to go out, but  gather some THATCampers continued conversations into the evening.

Previous posts on THATCamp SE:

 

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THATCamp SE 4: Making Digital Collections Work for the Scholar

March 10, 2011

THATCamp SE got started in earnest on Saturday.  We all met in a lecture room in the Emory Library (which is a wonderful space in general, and had guest wireless that made me incredibly jealous – it remembered me when I came back the 2nd day, and automatically gave me access! On my own campus, I get kicked off the wireless network repeatedly even when I’m sitting in the same place for an hour.)

THATCamps are “unconferences” – that is, there is no set agenda and no pre-planned papers.  The conference attendees post at the conference web site about what issues they want to discuss, and start to generate interest, and then the morning of the first day they write their sessions on a huge whiteboard and others make tickmarks if they plan to attend.

that camp session white board

This is actually from a THATCamp in Australia. Hence the appearance of "speedos."

 

The tickmarks allow the organizers to assign sessions to appropriate sized rooms. We had a brief rundown of the THATCamp groundrules (below) and we were off.

  1. THATCamp is FUN – That means no reading papers, no powerpoint presentations, no extended project demos, and especially no grandstanding.
  2. THATCamp is PRODUCTIVE – Following from the no papers rule, we’re not here to listen and be listened to. We’re here to work, to participate actively. It is our sincere hope that you use today to solve a problem, start a new project, reinvigorate an old one, write some code, write a blog post, cure your writer’s block, forge a new collaboration, or whatever else stands for real results by your definition. We [are] here to get stuff done.
  3. Most of all, THATCamp is COLLEGIAL – Everyone should feel equally free to participate and everyone should let everyone else feel equally free to participate. You are not students and professors, management and staff here at THATCamp. At most conferences, the game we play is one in which I, the speaker, try desperately to prove to you how smart I am, and you, the audience member, tries desperately in the question and answer period to show how stupid I am by comparison. Not here. At THATCamp we’re here to be supportive of one another as we all struggle with the challenges and opportunities of incorporating technology in our work, departments, disciplines, and humanist missions. So no nitpicking, no tweckling, no petty BS.

The first session I attended was proposed by Andy Carter (@cartera) of the Digital Library of Georgia, and described by him as “Big digital piles and the classroom.” As an archivist, he wants to know how scholars use digital collections in both teaching and research, and how the collections he manages can make these tasks easier for them.  Shawn Averkamp, who attended, had also asked a similar question.  We had more librarians than faculty in the room (this was to become a theme…) but the faculty talked about technological hurdles (real and/or perceived) and needing a guide to resources.  My main takeaway was articulated by Paul Fyfe (@pfyfe):

digital libraries/archives session theme of missed connections: who is mediating between resources and researchers/teachers?

For me, this was a stand-up moment: I am.  In my work as a Reference librarian, I am doing this for students who walk up to the desk or ask me a question via chat reference.  In my work as a subject liaison, I want to make it my goal to do this, not just for the faculty at my institution, but for the discipline of classics as a whole, at this blog.  I’ve struggled with understanding digital humanities projects so I can explain to the average classicist – what is this, and how might it be relevant to your research or teaching?  Is there an undergraduate assignment lurking in this project?

Some practical ideas for digital collections or dh projects that we discussed were educator guides, sample assignments, or digital “sandboxes” for playing with content, all hosted at the project sites.  These can come from the librarian or project head, but project hosts would  also welcome feedback from scholars who use their collections: email the project letting them know your students used the materials, and what the assignment looked like, or noting access hurdles and making suggestions to overcome them.  For faculty, the takeaway should be that digital collection and project hosts want the materials to be used, and need your help to see how that can be accomplished most profitably.

Previous posts on THATCamp SE:

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THATCamp SE 3: Google Earth

March 9, 2011

The third session of BootCamp day for me at THATCamp SE was Intro to GIS  with Michael Page (a geographer/librarian at Emory who works in the classical world, with Emory’s Bonna Daix Wescoat at Samothrace’s Sanctuary of the Great Gods.) We looked at a lot of features of Google Earth and did a really quick creation of a file with the location of our Civil War Letter.

This was a little more structured than other sessions at BootCamp; Page had taught “Intro to Google Earth” before, and had pre-staged .kml files (that’s the Google Earth file format) for us to open and play with, each illustrating a feature of the program. Then we did a quick piece of coding in xml (mostly cutting and pasting) that allowed us to develop a .kml file that would open in Google Earth with a pushpin at a location related to the Civil War Letter, and an info window with the MARBL graphic and a link to the text of the letter. I also learned what a “smoot” is – a geeky measurement (which is an option in Google Earth) derived from a 1958 MIT prank involving Oliver Smoot, who, and this is the best part, grew up to become the head of the ISO.

The applications for GIS in archaeological field work and architectural reconstruction have been obvious for a long time.  One example from our session was Page’s own work using Google Earth at Samothrace  – he showed us a file with the site plan overlain on the satellite image of the site.  Many classicists are probably familiar with the Google Earth Rome 3-d visualization project that got a lot of press when it debuted.  But GIS can be useful for non-archaeological analysis as well – see, for example, the Hestia Project (which the authors have popularly referred to as “Herodotus Earth” (pdf, may open in browser.) This project spatially coded all places in the text of Herodotus, allowing not just for two and three-dimensional maps but for network maps and maps with place markers sized larger as the number of times the place is mentioned in the text grows.

And, you know, if you get frustrated, just add Godzilla. (Okay, this uses Sketchup, not Google Earth itself, but I couldn’t resist, and they are both Google products that work together.)

Previous posts on THATCamp SE:

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THATCamp SE 1: Timelines Assignment

March 7, 2011

This past Friday and Saturday I attended THATCamp SE (The Humanities and Technology Camp, a fairly informal “unconference” that is held locally or regionally), and Sunday I attended virtually via the twitter feed and some public Google docs that were being created.  So this week will be filled with “what I did and why it was cool for me”, with hopefully some “this might be cool for you to try as a classics teacher or researcher” added just for you, dear reader.

Friday was “BootCamp SE,” designed to provide hand-on skills training.  This post is going to highlight the first session, an hour and a half spent “Visualizing Time and Space with Simile Widgets and Google” with Brian Croxall. Although he was prevented by some sneaky smart quotes from having a dramatic reveal at the end of the session, I came away with a great classroom assignment for any class working with chronologies or historic events.

Here’s what we did:

  1. Created a Google Documents spreadsheet and filled it with some data: a title for the event, start date, end date (if not a one-day event), longer description of the event, a link to an online image, longitude and latitude coordinates (grabbed from Google maps), and a broad category.
  2. Pulled up an html editor, cut and pasted some code that Brian had pre-staged for us, and put the web page online (we didn’t technically do all of this, but I did the parts we didn’t get to by myself in odd moments during the day today.)
  3. Profit!  Okay, at least, Timeline! (Note mine is all about 1913, because I’m still deep in that Reacting to the Past game I mentioned the other week. Also it has a bug – the categories on the right sidebar aren’t showing, because I am not an Actual Rock Star. Yet.)

So, let’s say I was teaching a class in Aegean Prehistory and wanted to address the hanging points for the chronology. (I did an assignment like this as an undergrad, using actual graph paper, in a class taught by Jim Wright). Here’s what I’d do:

  1. Assign the students to collect the information needed for the Google spreadsheet.  I might group them into teams – you all deal with Aegean artifacts found in Egyptian contexts, you all deal with radiocarbon dates, etc. This would be a homework assignment, with a reading list of print sources suggested (and places to look online to find artifact images to include).
  2. My “homework” would be to set up the Google spreadsheet and “invite” all the students, so they could add their events/artifacts. I’d also pre-stage the web page using the Timeline Simile scripts, and make it live on a web space.
  3. Meet in a classroom with computers, or ask students to bring laptops, and have them fill in the Google spreadsheet in class. I’d have the web page showing live, so that as students added events to the timeline they would show up one by one.
  4. I’d make the “how I did this” piece available to the students, so they could use the Timelines for future projects.

Brian has a tutorial online that you can use to teach yourself everything you need to assign a Timeline in a couple of hours, I’d say (maybe even less if you are already comfortable with Google Docs, editing html, and have a web space to put stuff up.)  Others at the session mentioned that this might be useful for their dissertation research (keeping events in order and reminding oneself what was happening simultaneously), and as a spatial exercise (since the events have latitude and longitude, you can also produce a map of “events”). Would this be useful to you, in your research or teaching?  Feel free to brainstorm in comments.

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