Archive for March, 2010

  • DH/Archive 2.0 and cultural/community stakeholders


    Mike McLeod and I are interested in discussing DH/Archive 2.0 projects that tailor to the needs of cultural/community stakeholders.  We think that projects with cultural stakeholders present their own relationship needs, design challenges, research questions, and rewards. We would like to share some of our work on our Samaritan Archive 2.0 project. We’d also love to hear from academics, librarians, programmers, and designers working at any stage on projects with a similar emphasis on establishing and maintaining relationships, community-centered design, fieldwork as a major component of the iterative design process, or any related interests and concerns.

  • Playful Historical Thinking


    Hello, THATCampers! My name is Rob MacDougall. I’m an assistant professor of history at the University of Western Ontario; I’m also a longtime gamer and sometime game designer, and I’m hoping to talk at THATCamp about the intersection of games, gaming, and historical thinking.

    Here’s what I said in my THATCamp application, more or less:

    I’d like to talk about games (digital and otherwise), play, and history–how games, toys, and digital play might be used to teach history and encourage playful historical thinking. (My thoughts run towards historical thinking but the conversation can surely include other humanities disciplines too.) Using games to teach in the history and humanities is hardly a new idea, but I must confess that many efforts in this area have not  been too impressive in my eyes. I wonder if we can connect the latest research about historical thinking (Sam Wineburg, Peter Seixas, et al) with developments in gaming and other playful uses of technology (I’m thinking of simulation games & models, but also “pervasive” games/ARGs, history toys/appliances (a la Bill Turkel), and the “procedural rhetoric” of “persuasive games” (Ian Bogost)). I think we ought to work backwards from the kinds of humanistic thinking we would like to inculcate rather than simply shoehorning educational content into existing games.

    (Here’s a longer post on my personal blog, “Old is the New New,” about playful historical thinking. I hope to elaborate further as THATCamp approaches.)

    There must be other THATCampers interested in digital games and play; should we organize a session? Or a game?

  • Toward Linked Data In The Humanities


    Imagine being able to pull data from hundreds, even thousands, of different sources to create charts and graphs; compare facts, figures, or relationships; or discover patterns that no one ever knew existed.  If you had the ability to do it, what would you set out to find?

    This is the new web of Linked Data that’s envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, and amazingly, it’s starting to become reality.  We have accomplished incredible things with a web of documents, but we now have the opportunity to dig deeper to explore the relationships between people, places, and things utilizing graphs rather than tables. It’s like going from The Muppets to Avatar (or if you hated Avatar, pick your own exaggerated analogy for a paradigm shift in technology).

    The humanities stand to benefit enormously by this new opportunity for discovery and analysis.  Not only does it offer the real possibility for bridging isolated archives and data collections, but it opens the door for community contributed links that can significantly amplify long-stagnant archives and records.

    Within the Linked Data movement, there are roles to be played by technologists, developers, researchers, archivists, dreamers and everyone in between.  I’d like to present the Civil War Data 150 Project as just one example of what Linked Data may help us achieve, and invite everyone to come up with creative projects you might pursue if you had the ability to reach across collections, time, and space to explore new networks and relationships of information.

    Graph of data to be mapped from various sources for the Civil War Data 150 Project.

  • hacking wearables & e-textiles


    Nowviskie's Soft Circuit Merit Badge: close the circuit and light the red LED by clicking the flower (sewn with conductive thread) to the metal snap.

    On Saturday at Great Lakes THATCamp, Bill Turkel and I will be hosting a workshop entitled “Hacking Wearables and E-Textiles.” I think of this kind of activity as “soft circuits work — but there’s no reason your wearable or hand-crafted tech has to be soft (or domestic, or gendered in any way) — even if our supplies list includes grosgrain ribbon and something called a “Foof a la Bag o’ Buttons.”

    Bill and I will have a chance, at Great Lakes, to give a brief overview of interesting work happening in the wearables arena, and to talk about why we decided to partner in this way. (Hint: when we saw the applicant pool, Bill was thrilled that women were signing up, while I was relieved it wasn’t going to be the all-girl ghetto of THATCamp.) If you’re new to all this, we’ll also share resources and avenues to keep you going when you return home. (It was Bill’s Arduino class at the very first THATCamp, followed by Dan Chudnov‘s Processing tutorial, that got me started!)

    We’re planning the class to appeal to experienced and inexperienced participants alike. As a warm-up exercise, we’ll take on this concept from Evil Mad Science Laboratories: a merit badge that (if you’ve sewn the circuit correctly) merits itself, by lighting an LED. My prototype is above (and see it light up here). It should be fun to see the variety of battery-powered, glowing nerdiness our fellow THATCampers design!

    This has just been a teaser post. Time permitting, I’ll share some other wearable tech concepts before the 20th. Bring your thimbles, if you’ve got ’em!

  • Telepresence: Saving Time & Money


    Telepresence is the next generation of video conferencing. Using webcams and the Internet with software such as ooVoo, real-time interaction recreates an in-person meeting experience. A GVSU business professor and librarians collaborated to use videoconferencing for class group work, facilitate office hours, and communication between the library and faculty. Web based videoconferencing has acquired tremendous popularity as it “virtually” connects people in many fields: military personnel, medicine, job interviews, education applications and global communications. Telepresence requires an understanding of techno-etiquette which we facilitated with a video presentation to highlight effective communication.
    We want to talk about how this technology is an effective communication tool with multiple applications. We also want to share important etiquette considerations when using this technology.

  • First Round of Drinks On the ACH!


    We’re very happy to announce that the Association for Computers & The Humanities will be sponsoring the first round of drinks on Saturday night at Harper’s Restaurant and Brewpub ( – after which campers can stick around and get some food at Harpers, or go to one of the many nearby fine eating establishments.  We’ll go over the details of the “reception” in the casual wrap-up session at the end of the day on Saturday.

  • Great Lakes THATCamp Teaser Badge Design


    In the spirit of yesterday’s teaser t-shirt design, have a gander at a teaser of the Great Lakes THATCamp badge design

    Couple of cool things to note.  First off, you’ll see a QR code next to the camper’s name.  This will link to the camper’s profile page of the Great Lakes THATCamp website.  We’ll have a post detailing the ins and outs of QR codes in the near future.  Second, you’ll notice “Local” in the bottom right hand corner of the badge.  Anyone who is a local will get this on their badge.  The idea is that they will be able to help out by offering up local information to those who are from out of town – where is the best place to get a drink, how do you get back to the hotel, that kind of thing.

    ADDENDUM: The QR code in this comp was actually just a test.  We’re most likely going to use a QR code with a little more complexity – name, institutional affiliation, email address, website, etc.  This means that in order for all of the relevant info to show up in the QR code, campers should update their profile (which you originally created when you applied for Great Lakes THATCamp).

  • Using Digital Video for Research and Community Archiving – Getting Beyond YouTube: Segmenting, Annotating and Archiving Digital Video Using the Annotator’s Workbench


    The Annotator’s Workbench is an open source application developed at Indiana University for the segmentation and annotation of digital video. This tool was originally developed to support the Ethnographic Video for Instruction and Analysis Digital Archive, a multi-year grant from the Mellon Foundation to Indiana University and the University of Michigan to create online access to hundreds of hours of field work done by ethnographers from around the world. Since the completion of the grant, we have found that the technologies developed to support the EVIADA Project can be applied to many different and diverse projects.

    Annotator's Workbench in Use

    Annotator's Workbench in Use on Ethnographic Field Video

    We have worked successfully with the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and the Central American and Mexican Video Archive (CAMVA) to adapt the Annotator’s Workbench to their projects. We are currently working with Archives of Historical and Ethnographic Yiddish Memories (AHEYM) to preserve and annotate oral histories collected from Yiddish-speaking residents of Eastern Europe and make the material available to scholars, educators and the public. In additon we are working on another Mellon grant on Ethnomusicology Multimedia (EM), a collaborative series of first books in ethnomusicology to be accompanied by a Web-based platform for hosting audio and video materials integral to the authors’ research, published by Indiana University Press, Kent State University Press and Temple University Press. This presentation will discuss the Annotator’s Workbench and surrounding technology and how it has been used and can be used in a variety of digital video based projects.

    But the use of the Annotator’s Workbench or any other tool is just the starting point. Using digital video for research and scholarship is still an open issue and the exact place of this type of scholarship in the academy has yet to be decided.

    How can we take a medium like video and make it more than just accessible but also provide metadata, rich content, insight and academic rigor? What does it mean to peer-review such content? How should it be distrubuted? Who and what kinds of access should be given to this material? What about intellectual property? What about copyright?

    How do we make video part of the classroom? part of research? part of publication? part of the scholarly process?

    Some additional thoughts occurred to me as I responded to a comment. One possible use of this tool, the Annotator’s Workbench, a digital video segmentation and annotation tool, is for what could be called Community Archiving. Basically, I see the process of community archiving as an historical tool, a pedagogical tool and a community building tool. For instance, distribute digital video cameras and recorders to, for instance, a high school class and send them out into their community to record what ever interests them (of course you could have them focus more if you wanted). Segment and annotate the result. Use Omeka or build your own web pages and web site. Allow comments from the community. Perhaps even uploads of video or audio. The process of creating this web site and the web site itself would be good for the students and the community. Depending on the interest of those present, I will probably focus more on the concept of using a tool, such as the Annotator’s Workbench, for community archiving.

  • RSVP’ing and T-Shirts


    Hey folks – many of you have RSVP’ed, which we thank you for! However, there is a good chunk of accepted campers have yet to RSVP. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, if there are campers who were accepted, but aren’t planning on coming, we’d like to know ASAP so we can give your slot to another applicant. Second, we need to put in our t-shirt orders. If you haven’t RSVP’ed (and thereby told us what size of t-shirt you want) by Wednesday (March 3rd), we can’t guarantee you’ll get the t-shirt size you want (we’ll just end up ordering a variety of sizes for those who haven’t RSVP’ed before the deadline).

    And to whet your whistle, here is a comp of the t-shirt design:

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