THATCamp CHNM 2013 (Part II of II)

-Greta Kuriger Suiter

Day 2: Saturday June 8, 2013,

I was able to attend three sessions on Saturday and then went to the maker challenge presentation assembly afterwards. Sessions included: Tips and tricks for 21st century research, the non-textual future of DH, and freeing images from digitized books. The finale assembly was a chance for THATCampers to present projects (maker challenge) they had completed during THATCamp (yes in 2 days). There were some really incredible projects:



a collection,

  • THATCamp Google Docs Archive Ebook. In the past group notes from THATCamp were created using a Google Doc. This year they created a notepad space within the THATCamp website so the reign of the Google Doc is over. A perfect time to archive.

comics related,

  • Comic about THATCamp
  • 5 card Nancy (Book House Nancy) – as part of a PowerPoint unhinged presentation where the speaker and the person creating a PowerPoint are two different people and the one creating the PowerPoint only knows the title of the presentation. It makes for some interesting juxtapositions between image and words.  

There were a bunch more presentations that were full of great ideas. It definitely is an encouraging and supportive atmosphere. A little talent show at the end of summer camp feel.


More about the 3 sessions I attended after the jump…

Session one: Tips and tricks for 21st century research

This session was lead and proposed by Jordan Grant, public historian and Ph.D. candidate at American University

The first session I went to consisted of an open conversation that revolved around tips, tricks, and tools participants used to keep research notes, sources, and papers under control. I’m in the beginning stages of planning to write a MA thesis in the next school year as well as a lengthy paper that is work related, so I was really hoping to get some useful advice from this session. In the past I’ve used the more traditional methods of note taking and paper organization that seemed to be common for the group – mainly Word and Google Docs. A good bit of advice that emerged toward the end of the discussion was that the most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to use what you are most comfortable with and what works for you. So here is a list of some points that I think might work for me (or I at least want to try out) in the future.

One word doc for each source. I usually keep all my sources in a Google Doc and start an outline there moving around block quotes which then will get shortened, or thrown out, when further compiling / organizing happens in Word. I find this works ok with shorter papers but 15-20 page ones start to get a little out of control. Having a separate word doc for each source also sounds a little hectic, but seems like worth trying.

Zotero groups, I want to use this for collaboration projects. We discussed how to get photos into Zotero and one way of doing it was to create a PDF and then it’s possible to OCR it as well. Also mentioned was the mobile version of Zotero and if you can use it to upload phone images and create an item automatically. I think Zotero is an extremely helpful tool for managing resources, unfortunately I never stick to it, so I have a lot of half started folders in it.

Scrivener for outlining – digital note cards. I’ve since signed up for the free one month trial of Scrivener but have yet to use it. I love the way it looks and I love using index cards for research, so the fact that you can make digital index cards and move them around is very appealing. It can be used with Macs and PCs. Here is an article in The Atlantic about it –

Blog posts and then working up from that. Some reasons for blogging – people can give feedback, easy for collaboration, might turn the post into a note card, it establishes your voice on the topic, and if it is just a tangent then that’s fine too. I have created a private blog for my thesis and may or may not continue using it. I was basically trying to use posts as index cards but they don’t move around so nicely. I do like the idea of a collaborative blog for getting research ideas out and into some sort of form.

Processing – after a day of research it is very tempting to tell someone about all of the great research you did, the connections you’ve found, what you want to write about, and what you will research next. Although it’s great and helpful to talk about your research it can be detrimental in that when you are talking through the ideas you are processing the information that you have gleaned from your research and then you might not write it down and any breakthroughs you uncover while talking may be lost. I hadn’t realized that this was a thing, but I know that I do it. A suggestion was made to record conversations, or to talk into a recording device in order to still talk out ideas but then have a record of it.

Tricking yourself while writing in order to focus on the act of writing rather than what you have written – turn font real small or real large so you can’t actually read it easily.

Workflowy – list making free online – outline tool that connects to Dropbox

Session two: The (non-textual) Future of Digital Humanities

This session was lead and proposed by , graduate history student at GMU.

Here are notes / links to tools and sites mentioned…

• How to layer analysis on top of visual, how to limit description time and do more analysis? Close readings are important, almost nothing speaks for itself, you need to say why you interpret object the way you do.

Scalar – platform for juxtaposing images, videos, text. “Born-digital, open-source, media-rich scholarly publishing that’s as easy as blogging.”

The knotted line

The Knotted Line is an interactive, tactile laboratory for exploring the historical relationship between freedom and confinement in the geographic area of the United States. With miniature paintings of over 50 historical moments from 1495-2025, The Knotted Line asks: how is freedom measured?

Edward Tufte, don’t tell me show me. Robert Horn – “visual language, global communication”

• Non textual presentation vs. Non textual research

• “Graphic note taker” Nancy White. “Sketchnotes book” – typography in visual realm

• Sequence of show and tell – facts vs. Interpretation – museum is just giving you facts, historians are interpretting – outlook of some students

• Copyright issues prohibit use of visual materials, but fair use can cover a lot

AU center for social media fair use

• Archives don’t want you to do DH projects with their visual materials. They want you to use them like you would text.

• Art historical approach vs. Historical approach. Text interprets/analyzes pic vs. pic supports text.

Session three: freeing images from digitized books

Proposed and led by Trevor Owens, digital archivist at the Library of Congress. This session revolved around the idea that there are lots of images stuck in books. The books are made freely available through the Internet Archive, OpenLibrary, and HathiTrust, now we can start going through the books and removing the images to use them in new ways. Trevor has been using Pinterest to share many images from books. Following are notes / thoughts / links. I left this session thinking I should be starting more searches at OpenLibrary. The goal of this session ended up being creating a metadata games on the spot. The result of which was Astro Tag, a semi working example. I am currently trying to set up a metadata game instance for work featuring images from our Japanese Invasion of Manchuria lantern slide collection.

Internet archive easy to pin pages from and have pins go back to original page in a book – each page has its own url. Open library – can make own collection in it, and is much easier to navigate than Internet Archive homepage. Hathitrust (pronounced “Hatti Trust”?)

Metadata games is a game allowing players to tag images for institutions, zen tag, Google imager labeler game – using this model with the Marc records to divide by subject so people could tag the subjects they are interested in. Target specific interests groups. Categories: astronomy, etc. We spent the rest of the session brainstorming what the metadata games would look like using images from books.

• Pages with more than one image on it would be multiple images to describe.

• Game website would have game side and gallery side, gallery could be wikimedia. This is thinking beyond the metadata games to what could be done with the images and the data once the game has served its purpose.

That’s it for my take on my THATCamp experience. I had a great time and learned a lot.

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