Archive for the ‘General’ Category

  • avatars


    I felt stupid for not being able to figure out how to get an avatar to show up on this digital humanities blog.  But Mark Harvey just explained to me that it magically pulls it from your account at So I went over there and it turns out I already had an account (via  I added an avatar photo, but it was for an old email address. Then I added the email address I used for this site, and assigned an avatar to that email address.  Voila, my mug showed up on the greatlakesthatcamp blog!

    Just thought I’d share in case anyone else was stumped on that one.

  • The hybrid scholarly archive and responsive digital resources


    My original submission was as follows:

    “The modern scholar conducts research using a three-part “archive” of source materials.  This 3-part archive that consists of: 1) Institutions’ physical collections of books and materials; 2) the digital texts and online materials that are available within the Library and outside of it; and 3) the “invisible college,” which is the ephemeral archive of scholarship and ideas that flows through their scholarly communications networks.  I’d like to explore how librarians, information professionals, and other researchers can support this complex and constantly evolving scholarly archive of sources and expand its power with the development of humanities computing tools.”

    To expand upon this, my session will first discuss the evolution of scholarly research and communications from the physical–research materials in libraries and archives, in-person meetings at conferences and via letters and print journals–into this three-part archive.  This new scholarly archive is particuarly marked by digital methods of research and communication such as digitized texts in digital archives and databases, e-journals and e-books, and the dynamic debates via web forums, blogs, email and chat, etc.  I believe that humanities scholars are among the most prominent types of scholars using a hybrid “archive” of both print and digital resources, and I want to explore how librarians–as well as information scientists, programmers, etc.–can support this new scholarly workflow.

    One way of supporting this workflow is through the development of resources that reflect their needs. As such, I would like to discuss specific digital tools and resources that are being developed at the University of Illinois that can support this hybrid archive of scholars’ research: These tools include MONK, a textual analysis tool recently released as a public research tool; Digital libraries and archives such as the HathiTrust Digital Library and the Farm, Field, and Fireside newspaper collection at UIUC’s History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library; and the Novelarium digitization project of 19th-century American novels that I’m currently working on.  I’d like to also consider other major outside projects, such as the digital resources built by NINES.

  • Active History: From Papers to a Blog


    This continues the previous post by Jim Clifford about the original ideas behind our website, After launching, we began actively soliciting papers from contributors throughout the Canadian history community. Initially, we focused on economic issues as we were in the midst of the recession, although we quickly broadened our eyes for papers on any topic that might conceivably be of interest to Canadians (our target market).

    Papers were not forthcoming. We had some promising prospects, but few materialized. We were able to get the rights to at least link to a wonderful example of ‘active history’ looking at universities in the Great Depression. Only in the last few weeks have we been able to post an original Canadian history submission, a magnificent paper by Larry Glassford on Ontario textbooks.

    Instead, we had to change our directions in two ways. » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Active History: From a Conference to a Website


    Active History began as an idea for a conference at a fellow student’s post comprehensive exams party back in the winter of 2007.  In the year and a half that followed we created a vision statement, circulated a CFP, applied for funding and finally hosted a two-day symposium in September 2008.  We defined active history variously as history that listens and is responsive; history that will make a tangible difference in people’s lives; history that makes an intervention and is transformative to both practitioners and communities.

    From the early stages we recognized that we needed to engage with the internet to help achieve some of these lofty goals.  As none of us had any real experience with websites, I agreed to play around with WordPress.  I managed to create a basic website for the conference that can still be found at (now largely defunct).  We hoped to make this into more than a simple message board for the conference and we asked the conference presenters to contributed blogs in the run up to the event.  Looking back at the site it is clear this request did not resonate with  any of Active Historians attending the conference and even our request for blog posts reflecting on the conference only resulted in two posts. » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Inquiry-based hacking and historical evidence


    The paragraph I initially sent in sounds to me now like I was trying for the title “Unplayful Historical Thinking,” though I don’t mean it that way at all. Here’s what I wrote:

    I’d like to talk about what a language of historical evidence might contribute to thinking about method in digital humanities. A fair amount of what I do digitally amounts to computationally-enhanced editing. It often seems to me that there can be little overt difference between querying a set of data for quality-control purposes, observing patterns and seeking inconsistencies and errors to be edited out, and performing the essentially the same query to explore a possible historical hypotheses about the data. Sometimes “data errors” might themselves amount to historical evidence. I suggest a language of evidence could help clarify issues that get muddied in item-focused battles over originals and digital surrogates, vexations over authority and authenticity, and perceptions of innovation in visualization. Historical inquiry has always looked past single documents toward pattern, with an understanding that there may be a range of hypotheses compatible with it.

    I’ve posted additional thoughts at greater length on a new personal blog. It’s great to see the range of interesting posts here, and I’m looking forward to meeting you all.

  • 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?

  • Room and Ride Sharing


    A good chunk of Great Lakes THATCamp attendees will be coming from outside the greater Lansing area.  Many will be flying in to Detroit Metro Airport or driving in from other exotic locales (like the jewel of southern Ontario –  London).  The result is that there will be lots of people who either need a ride or can provide a ride.  So, if you can provide a ride, drop a comment as to where you are coming from, when you are going to be traveling, how many people you can accommodate, etc.  If you need a ride, drop a comment as to your starting destination, when you are going to be traveling, etc, etc, etc.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

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