I’ve got something short and sweet:
I’m interested in the collaborative possibilities of digital archives. I’ve been building an archive for the past few years but have yet to find a platform that allows for the type of collaboration among scholars that I’m seeking.
I’m also interested in hearing about how others have used TEI (Text Encoding Initiative), particularly for teaching in the Humanities.
The internet is what you get when everyone is a curator and everything is linked — David Weinberger, Too Big to Know
What I like most about THATCamps is that the sessions are inclusive and participatory. While there may be a session moderator, the best moderators manage to decentralize the flow of ideas. Since my first THATCamp at CHNM in 2011, I’ve wondered how I could bring the unconference to the college classroom. I therefore propose a session in which we figure out how to become unteachers. What does an unclassroom look like? What does an unteacher do? Do students have enough knowledge to bring to the table so they can have a rich and transformative discussion? How is unteaching different from “flipping” the classroom?
At the 2011 THATCamp MCN conference, I announced to a group of curators that I wasn’t a huge fan of museums, which generated an eager and productive conversation. I suggested that perhaps I’d take more interest in museum exhibits if I were the one curating them — researching the history of artifacts, grouping them according to themes, writing historical notes, etc. (And since then, I’ve see that at least one museum has taken up a similar idea.)
I imagine the same exercise of curating could be true for my own students. When David Weinberger says that “everyone is a curator,” he’s referring to the vast amount of information that everyone has to sift through on the internet and in the archives. Now, more than ever, students need to learn to sift through this information themselves, and teachers (and publishers) should not continue to safeguard the curriculum by writing syllabi and requiring pre-curated textbooks.
I therefore have two major lines of inquiry I’d like to explore. 1) How does an unteacher design an unclass? What does a syllabus for an unclass look like? 2) How does an unteacher manage the everyday classroom? How can students apply their independently curated knowledge? What do students do every day?
I propose a session in which we brainstorm what applications and documents might be included on a “Digital Humanities Creator Stick,” a collection of tools that could fit on a USB flash drive, allowing students, teachers, researchers, and anyone else to work on digital humanities projects. An individual would plug the stick into any computer and instantly have access to what she needs to get work done. Unplug the stick and she takes those tools with her.
(I’ve created an open, editable, collaborative GoogleDoc for this session: GWms.me/DHstick)
“Until publishing a journal article, a computer model, or a musical analysis in digital form is seem [sic] as persistent and therefore a potentially long-lasting contribution to the chain of knowledge creation and use, few people will be attracted to work for reward and tenure in these media, no matter how superior the media may be for the research into and expression of an idea.”
-Abby Smith, “Preservation,” in Blackwell’s Companion to Digital Humanities (2004)
Do you agree with this statement, THATcampers? If so, what counts as “persistent”? And how long is “long-lasting?” Inquiring archivists want to know!
If you publish a journal article, there is good reason to believe it will be around for the next generations of researchers in your field. (LOCKSS is an example of efforts in this area). But a multimedia digital work, even one that represents significant research contributing to a scholarly discipline, will not necessarily survive for a very long time unless planning for this is part of the project. (And often you still you have the type of problems posed by Craig for this THATcamp – see the post “Contextuality in Preservation.”)
I wonder if P & T committees take long-term preservation planning into consideration when evaluating work, or if most members of the academic community believe that a criterion for judging scholarship could be whether or not it has the capacity to occupy a persistent place in the “chain of knowledge creation.”
While some digital humanities projects are associated with programs in digital preservation (and I know of one journal, UVa’s Rotunda, that publishes digital work), it seems others have been funded and executed on an ad-hoc project basis with no plan even for short-term maintenance. This results in websites that no one maintains after they are “done” and digital works for which there is no plan for preservation and access. (Is this beginning to change?) Can or should a digital scholarly work be cited if it won’t be discoverable or accessible in 5 years? How about 10 years? 50 years? 100 years?
I have two main goals for this weekend:
First, I would like to brainstorm new and effective ways to use technology in the classroom that move beyond he use of Blackboard or Moodle. For whatever reason, my past attempts to use those particular platforms have been spectacular failures. I’d like to rethink the way I approach collaborative student work, adding class components that add value rather than merely provide additional assessment opportunities for me.
Second, I’d really like some help thinking about how the broader framework of the “digital humanities” can help push my research forward. Medievalists have done a great job of connecting the digital to medieval thought and manuscript culture, finding ways to illuminate the work they do as well as bring the insights of medieval studies to how we think about digital or collaborative creative work. I feel like early modernists have availed ourselves of these emerging tools less ably. While digital archives are changing the way we access primary source materials, I want to think about the way digital culture and technology might illuminate my work in theoretical as well as practical ways. I’m not really sure how to go about doing that, but I’m hoping this weekend will be a step in the right direction.
Groups often define their members (and their opposite Others) with jokes and joking. Jokes (speaking as a folklorist here) can be serious stuff, can lead to real discussions about life, work, the universe, and everything. Is DH a mature enough field to have jokes about its identity? What would those jokes reveal? Could we come up with jokes? Could we tell jokes? Could we have our very own THATCamp standup? What would happen?
There are many aspects of academic life that we have little control over. One of the most significant of these aspects is also one of the most invisible, because it comes with a kind of take-it-for-grantedness: the actual physical space of the campus. The classrooms, the libraries, the study spaces and public places—we spend so much of our time in these locations, but they aren’t ours. They are institutional entities, designed by committees, subject to cost analysis, and rarely built to foster individualized teaching, learning, and research styles and goals.
I propose a THATCamp session in which we think about ways to hack campus space. And I mean hack in the most generous sense of the term. How can we use these spaces in ways they weren’t designed for? How can we turn their flaws—bolted down desks, windowless rooms, tiered seating, and so on—into advantages (or at least neutralize them)? How can we turn institutional places into dwelling spaces that we inhabit and habituate?
I was initially thinking mostly of classrooms—because I have taught in dreadfully designed rooms—but I’d extend this idea to include all campus spaces. And I’d like our hacks to go beyond the simply practical (though we need those too) to include what amounts to philosophical and ideological hacks. What would a temporary autonomous zone look like on campus, in the student union, in your classroom? How can we change attitudes about what can or can’t be done in certain spaces? What’s the most surprising thing we can do with a campus space, and conversely, what’s the most predictable thing we can do in a new way?
Image: United Kingdom National Archives. What’s the Lesson? 2009. 3 May 2012. <www.flickr.com/photos/nationalarchives/4128460122/>.