• THATCamp

    THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp) is an open meeting where humanists and technologists of all skill levels learn and build together in sessions proposed on the spot. It is an unconference, which means that there are no presentations, and all participants work together to form the program. On Saturday, November 19 in downtown Atlanta, GA, the Museum Computer Network is sponsoring THATCamp MCN, a free, day-long unconference for anyone interested in how new technologies and platforms are changing the landscape of museums.

    Graduate students in museum studies or related disciplines, museum professionals, and developers are all encouraged to register. Topics for discussion might include everything from managing software projects to uses of social media for museums, and participants are also encouraged to propose coding sessions and co-writing sessions where the emphasis is on doing, not talking. We plan to have a draft program up by November 1, but participants can continue to submit session ideas even as the unconference is taking place. There will also be free workshops at THATCamp MCN on technologies such as the Omeka web exhibit builder, and $500 fellowships are available courtesy of the Kress Foundation to make it possible for early-career museum professionals and students to travel to THATCamp MCN. The fellowship application deadline is August 1.

    This unconference is offered in conjunction with the Museum Computer Network conference, but if you are attending the MCN meeting, you must still register separately for THATCamp MCN. You do not need to register for the MCN meeting in order to attend THATCamp MCN.

    Contact Amanda French at gro.p1524286578macta1524286578ht@nc1524286578m1524286578 with any and all questions, and follow @THATCampMCN on Twitter for updates.

    What is a THATCamp?

    Here are the key characteristics of a THATCamp:

    • It’s collaborative: there are no spectators at a THATCamp. Everyone participates, including in the task of setting an agenda or program.
    • It’s informal: there are no lengthy proposals, papers, or presentations. The emphasis is on productive, collegial work or free-form discussion.
    • It’s spontaneous and timely, with the agenda / schedule / program being mostly or entirely created by all the participants during the first session of the first day, rather than weeks or months beforehand by a program committee.
    • It’s productive: participants are encouraged to use session time to create, build, write, hack, and solve problems.
    • It’s lightweight and inexpensive to organize: we generally estimate that a THATCamp takes about 100 hours over the course of six months and about $3000 to organize.
    • It’s not-for-profit and either free or inexpensive (under $30) to attend: it’s funded by small sponsorships, donations of space and labor, and by passing the hat around to the participants.
    • It’s small, having anywhere from 25 or 50 to about 150 participants: most THATCamps aim for about 75 participants.
    • It’s non-hierarchical and non-disciplinary and inter-professional: THATCamps welcome graduate students, scholars, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, developers and programmers, administrators, managers, and funders as well as people from the non-profit sector, people from the for-profit sector, and interested amateurs. The topic “the humanities and technology” contains multitudes.
    • It’s open and online: participants make sure to share their notes, documents, pictures, and other materials from THATCamp discussions before and after the event on the web and via social media.
    • It’s fun, intellectually engaging, and a little exhausting.

    What is an “unconference”?

    The shortest answer is this: an unconference is a highly informal conference. Two differences are particularly notable. First, at an unconference, the program isn’t set beforehand: it’s created on the first day with the help of all the participants rather than beforehand by a program committee. Second, at an unconference, there are no presentations — all participants in an unconference are expected to talk and work with fellow participants in every session. An unconference is to a conference what a seminar is to a lecture; going to an unconference is like being a member of an improv troupe where going to a conference is (mostly) like being a member of an audience. Unconferences are also free or cheap and open to all. For more information, see Wikipedia’s entry on the unconference.

    Some say that the first unconference was BarCamp, which is the model for THATCamp. Read more about BarCamp at barcamp.org, radar.oreilly.com/2005/08/bar-camp.html, and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BarCamp.

    Who should come?

    Anyone with energy and an interest in museum studies, social sciences, humanities and/or technology.

    What is “technology”?

    We suggest you read this brilliant article by Professor Leo Marx, American cultural historian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept.” (Side note: those who love technology should be those who are most aware of its hazards.)

    What should I propose?

    That’s up to you. Sessions at MCN THATCamp will range from software demos to training sessions to discussions of research findings to half-baked rants (but please no full-blown papers or presentations; we’re not here to read or be read to). You should come to THATCamp with something in mind, and on the first day find a time, a place, and people to share it with. Once you’re at THATCamp, you may also find people with similar topics and interests to team up with for a joint session. See our page on proposing a session for more ideas.

    Is a THATCamp MCN only for scholars / curators / grad students / librarians / archivists / programmers / instructional technologists / software engineers? Can scholars / curators / grad students / librarians / archivists / programmers / instructional technologists / software engineers apply?

    No to the first, yes to the second. THATCamp aims for diversity of backgrounds, professions, and skill levels. Anyone who is interested in the museums, social sciences, humanities and technology should come.

    Write the THATCamp Coordinator at gro.p1524286578macta1524286578ht@of1524286578ni1524286578 with further general questions about THATCamp or THATCamp MCN.

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