Talk session – Scholarly Societies and DH

What should scholarly societies be doing to help embed digital scholarship in our disciplines? MLA and AHA, along with other societies, have been active in creating guidelines for digital scholarship related to tenure and promotion for some time now. Additional work—such as organizing THATCamps, providing digital scholarship training at association meetings and elsewhere, organizing panels, etc—has also helped to promote and engage with digital scholarship. Is this the correct way for scholarly societies to connect with and advance the use of digital tools and methods with the humanities? What else should we or could we be doing?

Talk Session Proposal: Choosing a DH Platform in 2019

Most DH projects have always included a public website of some kind, whether as the final outcome of the project itself, a companion process blog, a simple download page for a project deliverable, or a creator’s personal portfolio page. The early days of hand-coded HTML pages or personal sites on university servers long ago gave way to dynamic Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal and Omeka, which made it relatively easy for non-coders to publish sophisticated web sites and interactive projects. While these major platforms continue to be big players in DH, the past several years have seen a proliferation of new options that have begun gaining traction: media-rich project tools like Scalar, new CMSes like Mukurtu and Backdrop, commercial web builders like Wix and Squarespace, and the return of static site publishing through options like the Getty’s Quire or using Jekyll with GitHub Pages.

Inspired by Quinn Dombrowski’s recent thoughts on “Enterprise Tools and DH,” I propose a talk session in which participants from all backgrounds and skill levels discuss the pros and cons of the current range of web platforms and static site generators, and when and where they are appropriate for the Digital Humanities.

  • Which tools are good for which purposes?
  • Which types of projects?
  • Which creators or collaborative teams?
  • Which intended audiences? 

Ideally people will share their experiences with various options and discuss the challenges and benefits or creating, hosting, customizing and maintaining DH projects amid the changing landscape of platforms.

Google Doc for session:

THATCamp AHA-MLA is tomorrow!

Happy new year everyone. We’re looking forward to seeing you all at the Institute for the Humanities bright and early tomorrow.

As always, the program is up to you, so it’s time to start proposing sessions. We’ve had a few already posted to the site, and it’s easy to propose your own. If you haven’t been to an unconference before, you can read about proposing a session at If you don’t get around to proposing something before January 3rd, or if you’re unsure about the process, no worries: you can always suggest an idea on the morning of the unconference or even after it’s underway.

Most THATCamp sessions in my experience tend to be discussions (Talk sessions), which are plenty valuable in themselves, but we *strongly* encourage you to propose hands-on collaborative writing or coding sessions (Make sessions) or digital skills workshops (Teach sessions) that will let everyone learn and work together productively. You’d be surprised at how useful even a spontaneously organized workshop can be: I’ve been at THATCamps where someone mentions a tool in one session and then by popular demand agrees to teach it in the next: unconferences are great at determining what the people in the room really want to learn and do.

To propose a session, click the “Log in” link on the site’s home page, then choose Posts –> Add New, write notes in the text box, and hit “Publish” when you’re done. See for more help, or just play around in the THATCamp AHA-MLA website itself.

And one more important detail: coffee and lunch will be provided.

See you tomorrow.

Talk Session Proposal: Navigating the Maze of GIS Options

Digital mapping is a mainstay of the Digital Humanities. It is used in the classroom and in research, by beginners and advanced scholars alike. The ever-expanding range of GIS options has made all this more possible than ever—but the sheer number of existing and new applications can be overwhelming at times. With access to software and services varied by institution, and with the ever-present threat of new pay walls, it seems more important than ever to attempt to understand the broader landscape of GIS solutions.

I propose a session in which individuals with a variety of skill levels and experience with GIS can discuss what options have worked, what challenges have come up, etc., and ask questions of each other about new GIS technologies and approaches.

Talk Session Proposal: Digital Fluency in an “Information Age”

The past few years has brought us many examples of the need for students (and the public), to be able to evaluate sources, to identify how and why knowledge is produced in all of its many media and forms, and to suggest the ways in which verifiable, authoritative sources can be produced using the tools of scholars.

The focus of Digital Humanities on consumption, analysis, and production of knowledge in many digital forms allows practitioners and novices to address and help demonstrate to students and the public how digital production works and why we should be skeptical of it.

That’s not a simple process however.  As Mike Caulfield of Washington State University, Vancouver, has written (such as in “Yes, Digital Literacy. But Which One?“), curriculum for information literacy is not new, but such programs are not sufficiently grounded in either specific content areas or the structures of the Web to keep up with the blizzard of problematic content.  And as my former UMW colleague, Kris Shaffer, has noted (in multiple places, but most directly in “Truthy Lies and Surreal Truths: A Plea for Critical Digital Literacies“) the issue isn’t just misinformed content, but intentional misleading content.  As he notes,  “The future of digital culture ― yours, mine, and ours ― depends on how well we learn to use the media that have infiltrated, amplified, distracted, enriched, and complicated our lives.”

So, I propose a session in which we talk about strategies to address issues of Digital Fluency (or Fluencies) at our schools and in our departments, to share existing resources on Digital and Information Fluency, and to describe what an idealized curriculum would address.

UPDATE: A couple more links to others who have written about related questions of curriculum and Digital Fluency: Megan Smeznik and Brandon Locke


THATCamp AHA-MLA Time and Place

I can’t believe it’s on us already, but I hope everyone is getting excited for THATCamp in a few days.

We will be hosted by the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Registration will be from 8:30 to 9:00, and we’ll start the opening session at 9:00AM. The final session will finish at 4:00PM. Here’s a map with directions to help you find your way to the Institute on Wednesday.

Map with parking 1-2018

In the meantime it’s time to start proposing sessions. As you can see we’ve had a couple of good suggestions to get us started already. So if you have something you would like to see on the program please submit a brief description.

See you all on Wednesday.

Teach Proposal: IIIF

IIIF–the International Image Interoperability Framework–is a rapidly growing standard for presenting digitized media in a reusable format.  After early implementation efforts by R1 universities and national libraries, the last two years have seen more widespread adoption by platforms like the Portal to Texas History and the Internet Archive and implementations in widely-available systems like CONTENTdm, CollectionSpace and eMuseum.  Nevertheless, use of IIIF by researchers in the humanities has been spotty, with few disciplines outside of medieval studies exploring the standard.

I’ve been teaching IIIF workshops, implementing the standard in software, and participating in the IIIF community for three years, and I’d be happy to teach an Introduction to IIIF to any interested campers.

Talk Proposal: Crowdsourcing

Seven years ago, at the first THATCamp AHA, we had a rollicking session on crowdsourcing led by two experts in the field.  This year we’re fortunate to be joined once again by Jen Wolfe, who spearheaded the DIYHistory project at University of Iowa Libraries and is now with the Newberry Library’s Transcribing Modern Manuscripts crowdsourcing platform.  We again have a representative from the Zooniverse crowdsourcing platform in Samantha Blickman, the  Digital Humanities Lead and PI on a new NEH-ODH Digital Advancement Grant.

I propose a discussion session on crowdsourcing, in which we can ask Jen and Samantha about their experiences and bring our own ideas for discussion.

Registration is now open!

Over the years, THATCamps have been a place where humanities scholars learn about and exchange ideas for how to use technology for research and in the classroom. Projects have been conceived, connections made between scholars, and hundreds introduced to digital humanities in a relaxed, fun, and informal environment.

With the AHA and the MLA meetings happening in the same city at the same time for the first time in 50 years, we are excited about the opportunity to create further connections and share ideas across disciplines.

What makes THATCamp great is you, so register now, and plan to join us in Chicago on January 2nd, 2019. You do not need to be attending AHA or MLA to participate. All are welcome!

Participation is on a first-come, first-served basis, but please register before December 17th. When you submit your registration you should receive an email confirming that it’s been received, and another one once your registration has been approved. Please contact me if you have any problems.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Announcing the first ever joint AHA/MLA THATCamp

We are very excited to announce the first THATCamp that will be jointly held by MLA and AHA to coincide with annual meetings occurring simultaneously in Chicago. Generously hosted by the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Illinois Chicago, THATCamp AHA-MLA will take place on January 2, 2019.

This will be a great opportunity to talk to digital humanists across the disciplinary divide and share perspectives on digital methods and approaches with a broader range of scholars.

We’ll be opening registration on a first-come first-served basis very soon so watch for further announcements.

If you are new to the idea of an un-conference or THATCamp you can read more about the THATCamp movement and browse other THATCamps at

Hope to see you in Chicago in the new year!