Archive for category Proceedings of THATCamp

Resources from Introduction to Programming with Python

I wanted to thank everyone for their participating in the Introduction to Programming with Python and the follow-up session on Django during THATCamps’s BootCamp!

As mentioned during the session I am linking a few resources that can be helpful for aspiring Python Programmers as well as a few other resources referenced.  I hope everyone finds them useful.

Great Python Resources

Other Resources

  • Cool URI’s Don’t Change – Stable and persistent URIs are a vital part of creating durable scholarly works and the foundation of linked data.  Every digital scholar can benefit from reading this article.
  • O’Reilly on The Importance of Unit Testing – Always important to create a sustainable and extensible application, unit tests can be particularly vital in scholarly projects because of their long lifecycle.

Code From Sessions

Here are the hacky pages of code I was displaying during our session discussion.  I don’t see an ability to upload files here so I’m linking them as Google docs.



Post-Camp Blogging

I’ll collect the series of posts I’ll be making this week about my THATCamp SE experiences here.  Expect updates.

I’d like to add a special thank you to our hosts, expression of admiration verging on jealousy for the beauty and functionality of the Emory Library space and its awesome guest wireless connection, and thanks to all who participated in conversations with me (or near me so I could eavesdrop.)  I learned a lot.  Best wishes to all – Phoebe Acheson, @classicslib


Why I Love THATCamp

Check out my post on “Why I Love THATCamp”! I don’t allow comments on my homepage, but I’d love to hear what you think here!

Digital humanities to the rescue on reductive assessment?

The DH & Assessment session Saturday afternoon started with the usual mini-rants about our regional accreditor and reductionist assessment and turned into an “oh, wow, here’s a tool for this” discussion. The core of the discussion revolved around the open-source <emma> assessment tool built for the University of Georgia’s first-year composition class. (Links: <emma> front-end, which will be frustrating because it’s just the sign-in for UGA students, and the website of the Calliope Initiative, the non-profit continuing development and the business end for other institutions.)

At the lunchtime Dork Shorts, Robin Wharton had demonstrated the gist of <emma>: students submit papers in Open Document Format. Then instructors and peers can comment on specific passages and code their comments by area of the comment (e.g., thesis development might be coded as green, something else as yellow, etc.). Students’ revisions are linked to their original documents, they declare when a revision is the final document, etc. So far, this looks like a useful, user-friendly way to comment on student work.

In the afternoon session, it became clear that <emma> was also being used for institutional assessment–it has the ability to look at the comments and the comment categories, a sample can be drawn for assessment by a set of readers, with disagreement on basic judgments by two readers kicked to a third reader or other moderation process, etc. And the system has the capacity to allow conclusions such as shifts in comment categories (i.e., student skill development) across a course or a longer span of time. In other words, institution-level judgments based on the day-to-day evaluative culture within composition instruction.

Those at the session had the obvious questions about the system (expensive? it was developed by one person in the English department who taught himself programming, along with two graduate students) and then we started talking about what would be necessary to develop parallel systems for performances (e.g., faculty-juried music performances at the end of the semester). So we gabbed a bit about Pear Note, Transana, and some other options. And then we discovered that as ODF documents, the base documents students submit can include media. Hmmn…

Bottom line for me: Huge thanks to Rob Balthazor and his team at UGA for showing how digital humanities can put assessment on a much less shaky footing.

Group edited notes from Messy DH session

Here ya go, folks!

Also, breakout session for generating blog post topics relating to these messes at 2:30 in RM756.

The document from the breakout session.

Envisioning librarian-scholar collaborations in the semantic age

As a metadata librarian, I’m always interested in learning new ways to not only attract new digital repository content but to increase efficiency in adding descriptive metadata to that content.  Collaborations between digital repository librarians and digital humanities scholars can support both of these aims as well as provide benefits for scholars.  By storing the products of digital humanities projects (ex., digitized primary sources, born-digital media) in the repository, librarians can make this content accessible to broader audiences and can tap into scholars’ subject domain expertise to provide valuable descriptive metadata at little cost to cash-strapped libraries.  In return, scholars get free, permanent storage for the digital assets that support their projects and guidance from librarians on digital project planning and using standards and best practices to manage their metadata.

Often, the metadata that scholars care about extends beyond the bibliographic metadata traditionally collected in library catalogs and digital library collections.  To attract scholars to digital humanities collaborations, libraries need to be able to store and make accessible this domain-specific metadata.  As we move towards storing and publishing metadata in RDF, we will soon have the flexibility to accomodate these new metadata demands.

Preparing librarians to work with this new data structure is one major obstacle we’ll have to overcome, but I’m interested in having a conversation about what skills will be valuable to librarian-scholar collaborations as we enter the semantic age?  How do we start incorporating ontology into our project designs? (Is ontology even on humanities scholars’ radar? It certainly isn’t much more that a blip yet in the library world)  How do humanities scholars currently map their knowledge domains?  Are there any shared data models or standards in the digital humanities that would help guide development of new best practices?  What roles should librarians play in helping scholars apply ontology to digital projects?  (And should librarians even play a role in this?  Do we even have the chops to become knowledge management consultants?) What tools would be helpful in facilitating these collaborations?  Are there existing tools we could build on?

I share cartera’s “big digital pile” view in that I have little sense of how scholars use our digital resources and what more they want out of them beyond simple search and discovery.  I don’t have any strong opinions or answers yet to this big pile of questions–I’m hoping to gauge interest and experience within both library and humanities communities so I can learn how to better frame the issue.

Big digital piles and the classroom

There are several proposals hovering around the issue of how to better leverage digital collections within the humanities, and I want to give a thumbs-up to them all. I work with a gigantic pile of stuff at the Digital Library of Georgia (as a Digital Projects Archivist), but have little sense of how (if at all) it is used beyond the independent researcher or curious citizen.

Some questions as gestures towards a proposal(s):

1. What do humanities scholars want/need from digital collections to be of use in the classroom? Here I am thinking about navigating live through the DLG, or any online collection, for real time feedback (would be great to team up with other librarians). Which formats are most compelling…and for which disciplines? What would you like to be able to do with the stuff in our collections that you currently can’t (thinking about types of reuse, linking out, integrating into social media sites, editing, etc…). Is there anything we (any digital collection) could be doing to make our sites and our stuff more compelling to you?

2. Open Access publishing: gigantic sea creature of the deep wrapping its tentacles around the tenure process. We could kick around impacts of the Open Access movement on the ‘impact factor’ in tenure, but…does that really sound like fun? Bringing it back to the classroom, is there any interest in, or experience with, using publishing platforms for student work? At the Univ. of Georgia, we’ve recently launched our first online, open access, peer reviewed journal using Open Journal Systems from the Public Knowledge Project: the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement. I’d be interested in discussing this platform (or others) with the curious, how it might be used by scholars looking for publishing options in this era of tight budgets, and/or how it might be deployed in a classroom.

3. Worst Digital metaphors/analogies lighting round. 5 minutes to compile examples of the most heinous, ideologically confused, confounding metaphors deployed to understand our relationship to the digital. “Series of tubes,” anyone? Maybe even a prize?

Exploring the Combination of Techniques of Instructional Design, the Humanities, and Digital Media in an Archival Format

Ann Cunningham (Education), David Phillips (Humanities), and Lauren Pressley (Library Science and Instructional Design)

At Wake Forest, we’re getting ready to launch an experiment in creating an online digital library and archive that captures the essence of what’s happening out in the community. What are politicians saying? What are community groups doing? What are our local artists and performers into? What is happening in our broader creative community? What’s going on in different segments of our community, and how can our students access the events, meet the people, and document what they find in a digital format that is readily accessible through a web-based archive? What would such an archive look like, and how would it organize knowledge in ways that encourage creative thinking about knowledge and culture, while helping us to reshape our conceptions of how to order this knowledge? What if the actual recording in innovative formats and new ways of ordering helped us to envision knowledge and culture in new ways?

Secondly, what are the emerging technologies in library science and digital media studies that are useful in refining this vision. In providing our students with the tools to appropriately and creatively organize their material, students will need to think critically about relevant metadata and how to approach findability in this web-based format for storing video and audio multimedia archives? Just as importantly, how can the content be kept robust, but skillfully edited and packaged in ways that make it easily accessible to viewers, and what skills from documentary film making and editing can be incorporated into the process of creating content?

Stepping back a step from the production of material for this  library and its use as a resource, we are finding as we explore these questions that one of the keys to getting good results is to think about designing instructional sequences that scaffold inquiry, reflection, and expression. These instructional sequences could be courses or as large in scope as a full program of study. Sequenced and intentional integration of learning experiences with digital tools and many opportunities to express knowledge in digital formats can generate products for assessing student growth over time and provide a vehicle for them to develop their questions and support a reflective approach to web-based expression. These engaging and inspiring student products will be published and disseminated through the online digital library. This approach to instructional design facilitates inter disciplinary collaboration but not without challenges. Where are models of interdisciplinary collaborations on courses? On programs?

Finally, what role does the humanities play in shaping the nature of our investigations? What are the pressing questions to be asked, and how can humanistic pursuits be best depicted? What are the most effective ways to record and preserve our personal narratives, human interest stories, oral histories, and examples of our cultural, socio-economic, and regional diversity? How can the humanities inform the process of collecting information that keeps it personalized and that resists the tendency to generalize?

All of these questions are at the heart of our initiative to create a digital humanities library and archive of Winston-Salem, Piedmont-Triad, and North Carolina culture, the arts, and social issues. We think, based on our initial discussions, that a better understanding of process is key to the pursuit of answers to these questions, and to clarifying our goals in creating a digital library.

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Dialogue for producers and users of Digital Collections

I would like to propose a combination of general discussion and helpathon to address the needs and concerns of the providers and users of digital library collections; I think this could be combined with Andy Keck’s and Katie McCormack’s Session proposals and probably others.  I am on the advisory board of an open –access digital library, the Digital Library of the Caribbean (, which is a grant-funded partnership of libraries in Florida and the Caribbean(for brief description see below).* I am participating in this Unconference  in part to learn ways to improve and otherwise help dLOC, but I am hoping that some of the issues that challenge this digital library are pertinent to other digital projects and would  therefore be of interest to other people in the humanities who use or work on digital collections. Below I have listed some questions concerning digital collections (as examples) and would like to hear what other questions and experiences people have in regard to digital library collections.

Examples of Technical Questions:

  • What type of tools and technologies do you find necessary and/or helpful when using a digital library? (e.g. particular search functions, bookshelves, the ability to make and save comments on materials as well as to share materials through Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • What types of pedagogical guides or editorial information would you find helpful?

(dLOC, for instance, has workshops and posts teaching guides for various materials in addition to hosting a contest for teaching guides to specific material in the collection)

  • How do you organize content from multiple digital collections?

Examples of Digital Scholarship Questions:

  • How do we encourage/invite scholars to conduct their scholarly work with and through digital collections like dLOC? Instead of simply using materials in dLOC, what new forms of scholarship can we foster and how do we do so?


  •  Whereas projects like the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture are working primarily with newer media forms (, how do we support and encourage more traditional scholarly research to take full advantage of digital collections as source and operational resources?

Examples of Questions concerning publicizing collections and building relationships with users:

  • How can a library advertise its collection so that scholars know that it exists?
  • How might a library develop relationships with users of the collection to ensure that it is identifying useful texts for the field?
  • Could the library foster relationships among users to develop further editorial and pedagogical materials?

Examples of Questions involving Open Access and National Patrimony Collections:

dLOC sees itself as a partnership working to preserve and make available (free of cost) content from Caribbean libraries, archives, and NGOs.  However, some scholars and some librarians consider  making digital copies of Caribbean content available through open access venues a loss—especially if those venues have their servers in the U.S.

Are there good answers for such questions as:

Why should a Caribbean National Library make rare novels and magazines available to people all over the world for free? Aren’t they (and their nation) losing income from researchers who would otherwise have to travel to the country and pay for copying, etc.?

Aren’t they also losing revenue they might gain through for-profit databases, such as Ebsco and Alexander Street Press? (dLOC’s agreements over content are all non-exclusive, so everything digitized for dLOC can also be sold to databases.)

Is it important that digital collections from the Caribbean and other regions in the Postcolony host their own servers and control their own software for digital projects?

*Each dLOC partner determines which materials it will digitize, retaining an electronic copy for itself and giving one to be housed on the dLOC server, where it will be maintained by  the University of Florida Digital Library Collections’ (, which functions as a technical hub for the project.  dLOC has two objectives: to preserve fragile materials, often housed in only one or two national libraries or archives in the Caribbean, and to make them available as widely as possible to citizens and scholars. Founded in 2004, with five partners, the project now has over  15  including the Archives Nationale d’Haïti and three other libraries in Haiti; the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM); the National Library of Jamaica; La Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE); Universidad de Oriente, Venezuela; the University of the Virgin Islands; Florida International University; University of Central Florida; the University of Florida, the University of the Netherlands Antilles, the Biblioteca National Aruba, and the Belize National Library Service and information System, and the Caribbean Region, International Resource Network.

My Favorite Application: “Show and Tell”

Last summer I was fortunate enough to attend the NEH-funded Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship at the University of Virginia’s Scholars Lab. Throughout the proceedings, I found myself watching my friend Jo Guldi madly switching between a number of different applications on her MacBook Pro. I wasn’t familiar with most of the tools she was using, and her work pattern for taking notes was so different from my own that I asked her abouit. Consequently, Jo, Moacir P. de Sá Pereira, and myself sat down over lunch one day and started showing each other our personal favorite tools. (Note the absence of rimshot here, please.)

I found this exchange incredibly exciting and useful, not to mention very much in the spirit of ProfHacker, which I’ve had the great pleasure to write for since 2009. As much as you think you know about the tools of the trade, there’s always more out there. And maybe, just maybe, the things that your friends are using could help you get your writing / reading / compiling / programming done all that much more quickly.

What I’d like to propose for a session, then, is a show and tell. You get 3 minutes—at most—to show us your favorite application. You tell us what’s so great about it, how you use it in your work, and why you couldn’t live without it. We all get exposed to something new and get the chance to imagine how our own work could shift if we were to shake things up and try a new approach. If we have enough time (but how could we? people will be all over this session like butter on grits), you could get a shot to share a second favorite application with us. But seriously: don’t count on it.

It will work best if you can show us your application through the projector (we’ll have connections), but all platforms and applications are allowed. That means you can wax poetic about your favorite Android app. The best Chrome MAME. Or the best media player that you’ve found for Debian. Whatever you’d like. Heck, I suppose it could even be something analog! But you only get 3 minutes to share the love. Afterward, we’ll have a handful of new applications to try out (provided your pitch was good enough) and we’ll know who to talk to to find out more.

Does this sound appealing to anyone else?

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