I should probably begin by admitting straight-away the persuasions of my bias:  I’m a fully committed THATCamp evangelist after this, my second THATCamp experience.

THATCampSE was held on the campus of Emory University, March 4-6, 2011.

I attended the Pedagogy BootCamp session on Friday.  There was also a Programming track and a Project track.  The Pedagogy session was hosted by representatives of Emory’s ECIT, which is a robust, pedagogically informed, technologically equipped center designed to facilitate faculty implementation of new technologies in the classroom.  I was very, very impressed by ECIT, its mission, and its staffers.  The Pedagogy track was slightly awkward in that we had very disparate level of experience represented in the participants.  What made the session worthwhile though was the conversation that developed over the course of the morning session, which I think reached into the ideas and concerns of most of the participants.  The afternoon session was a little more relaxed, as we considered web presence for academics through a variety of platforms.  I can’t speak to the Project track’s experience at all.  But I did hear from some friends in the Programming track that it was a little over most people’s heads.  In retrospect, it might have been nice to have had a track that fell somewhere in between the Pedagogy and Programming tracks in terms of required technical savvy.  (This might be exactly what the Project track was–as I said, I didn’t hear any feedback on that particular BootCamp session for some reason.)

The Sessions I attended Saturday:

The first session I attended on Saturday had to do with digital images.  A major topic of conversation was permissions and Fair Use.  I personally think that academics (and particularly journal editors) need to get more aggressive about asserting the right to Fair Use of images in our noncommerical works.  It’s clear that Fair use is culturally-legally defined, and not strictly legally defined.  We are ceding too many opportunities for Fair Use.

During the second session I hacked a nap on the sixth floor of the library.  Emory students beware, when you nap on the library couches, Emory faculty take pictures of you with their camera phones and laugh at you later.  I’m just sayin’.

The third session on Saturday that I attended dealt with software that can help make archive visits and file organization in general more efficient.  We learned about some excellent tools, like Hazel, that I hadn’t known about previously.

[DATA MISSING] For the fourth session I hacked another nap at the hotel (Damn you, Georgian Terrace! [not where I stayed, BTW]).

The sessions I attended on Sunday:

The first session I attended dealt with crowdsourcing, broadly conceived, and we simply had a very rich conversation about different crowdsourcing strategies, with an emphasis on the classroom and crowdsourcing teaching in a variety of ways.

The last session I attended, during the last time slot of the unconference, dealt with faculty/librarians relationships.  Working relationships. Miriam Posner has a great post on the session.  Basically, there aren’t good social or institutional forums for faculty and librarians to collaborate, which costs both groups.  This session created some of the liveliest conversation I witnessed over the weekend.  We didn’t come up with any solutions though.  I think we might have over thought it.  If you’re a faculty member, you simply need to walk down to the library, buy your subject librarian a cup of coffee, and have a friendly, collegial chat about each of your projects.  Then repeat.  GRAD STUDENTS: MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR RESEARCH LIBRARIANS.  I never did, and in retrospect, it was probably one of the worst mistakes of my graduate career.  As a faculty member, I’m now going to be going out of my way to make friendly with subject librarians, just as I do with fellow faculty.

All in all, a wonderful conference, and my deepest gratitude goes out to the people who organized it.  They know who they are, and I thank them.

Despite my THATCamp evangelism, I still have concerns about the digital humanities.  I still don’t think it’s a discipline, and that we need to tread more warily in some respects.  Our scholarship, I still contend, must be *better* than scholarship that doesn’t fall under the digital humanities confederacy (“confederacy of disciplines,” instead of “discipline”) if it is to gain credible wide acceptance (more quickly than it might otherwise–wide acceptance is inevitable, for the pixels are on the wall, so to speak).

Important Twitter hashtags from the weekend:

#thatcamp, #tigerblood, #thatcamp_puppy, #slothblood, #digimpact, #winning

The weekend was further enriched by ridiculous and unwarranted Charlie Sheen references, which added an absurd poetry to many of the backchannel #thatcamp tweets.  #thatcamp #winning #owlblood

Ian, the picture is for you:

Baby Sloth, photo from flickr user Phillie Casablanca

THATCampSE ’11: The Pixels are on the Wall #thatcamp #winning

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