THATCamp Chicago is a user-generated “unconference" where humanists and technologists work together for the common good. As a famous Chicagoan might have said, "THAT is more." Join us November 20, 2010 at Northwestern University for THATCamp, then stay for the 2010 Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science.

Latest Posts

Thank you!

Monday, November 29th, 2010 |

Many thanks to all the great THATCamp Chicago organizers, volunteers, and bootcamp instructors! We couldn’t have put on the first THATCamp Chicago without them:

Adam Strohm
Amanda Rybin
Anastasia Salter
Claire Stewart
Douglas Knox
Freddrick Logan
James Coltrain
Jessica Thomson
Jillana Enteen
Jim Brown
JJ Pionke
Karl Stolley
Lindsay King
Michael Moore
Nicole Finzer
Quinn Dombrowski
Peter Thorsen
Ryan Cordell
Sarah McVicar

And thanks especially to all the great participants, THATCamp Coordinator Amanda French, and our sponsors! It was fun! Let’s try it again sometime :)

THATCamp Chicago debriefing at UIUC Library

Saturday, November 27th, 2010 |

The University of Illinois Library’s Scholarly Commons ( will be sponsoring a THATCamp Chicago debriefing/forum in the coming week at the University of Illinois Library. At the forum, we’ll discuss the ideas, skills, and experiences that campers gained from THATCamp Chicago.  Everyone is welcome to attend, but all University of Illinois campers and others in the Champaign-Urbana area (or those willing to make the trek down here) are particularly encouraged to come.

If you’re interested getting more details (the date and time are still TBD) or have questions, please contact Harriett Green at

Games in Academia/Collaboration

Saturday, November 20th, 2010 |

Three game folks, joined by 4 collaboration folks.
  • First idea: Jane McGonigal, collab tool for game designers focused on creating “meaningful” games. Gameification structure: point, rewards, level up. New challenges proposed by community to inspire collaboration. November 2010 launch.
  • Stanford (and Indiana) courses built on leveling up/guild MMO structures.
  • Anastasia Salter (@MsAnastasia) modeling course in Spring 2011 on WoW.


Adding meaning to physical tasks: something that games are very good at. [Though, we might trouble Jesse Schell’s GDC talk on pointsification…]

What tools do these games teach?

  • visual literacy
  • multimodal literacy
  • rhetoric of persuasive games (Bogost)
  • Gameful focuses on production: making games as collaboration
  • procedural literacy (Bogost, Gee, Matheas). [Game of Oswald shooting JFK, Darfur is Drying, Oil Tycoon]
  • compositional literacy and collaborative writing  (ARGs such as The Beast/Cloudmakers as example, Pierre Levy’s CI)

Practical Applications:

  • Tools for building games:
  • Students are able to create and share and play their work with their classmates. Highly available result.

Recommended Texts:

  • The Game Maker’s Apprentice by James Hobgood

Ivanhoe as role play game for lit/comp classroom focused on literary analysis and arguments.

Using BuddyPress as online space for achievement based points for writing/blogging:

  • CubePoints
  • Achievements (set particularly goals and rewards–a type of leveling system) [@MsAnastasia plans to reward/level-up for achieving requirements, earning students different requirements for future assignments.]

Points might be an alternate (non(less?)-punitive) way to encourage students to collaborate, comment. Also, Jim Brown mentions portfolio system, The Learning Record [] and having students write a midterm and end of term argument for their grade. [Jim built his own with Drupal, as a simple one module install.]

Evaluate THATCamp Chicago

Saturday, November 20th, 2010 |

What did you think? Please complete the survey below and/or comment below:


Notes: Databases, preservation, and cultural media

Saturday, November 20th, 2010 |

Database and Narrative, Cultural Memory, Archiving social networking databases, Archiving historical data, Presenting a digitized facsimile—limited, Music

“Knowledge work and cognitive tools”

Underlying framework for databases, systematized semantic and non-semantic data, musical database

“generative tools”—taking snips of data, combining them in unforeseen ways

How do you decide what’s expendable? What do we archive? What do we include and leave out?

Example: Subway maps

Old subway maps were “true to the line” and now they’re lines and dots. The latter makes more sense to people, can this be mimicked in other databases and interface?

Does this approach “dumb down” the archive?

Perhaps not, if we consider that the database remains the same but the interface changes.  Those interfaces can be built with different kinds of needs in mind—different interfaces to the same database.

Representation Systems vs. Interaction Systems

How can it be represented? How can I interact with it?

Epistemic activities: Knowledge-based activities

  • Example: For music, three epistemic activities: creation, audiation (contextualization of sound data), interpretation

Dumb networks and dumb archives

Building dumb archives with intelligent interfaces, try to make the archive as dumb as possible. Then, build multiple interfaces and recognize that each is singular.

Problems with siloed data

How do we build archives that balance funding, resources, contemporary research goals, possible future research goals.

Experts and hobbyists—tapping both resources

Using gaming and captcha to help with archives.

TED Talk: “The Game Layer on top of the world”

Is it sensible to work on the archive prior to the structure of the experience for the user?

Laying bare that which was kept scarce before.

“Owners” of data can return to claim things, and then what happens to the tools and interfaces that we’ve built.

The inability of drawing a distinction between the “wired” and the “unwired” worlds

Big Take Away:  Creating dumb databases (archive as much as possible without thinking that we’ve archived everything)

Conversation shifted to:

Hacking Social networks, games, using games to make political arguments, using games to incentivize certain activity: Cow Clicker


Alexander Galloway—Protocol

Lessig—The Future of Ideas (Creative Commons)

Richard Lanham—The Economics of Attention

Tim Berners-Lee—Long Live the Web (

Searching Facebook’s public timeline:

Notes: Geo Tools, Geo Parsing & GIS (+ Collaboration)

Saturday, November 20th, 2010 |

I took these notes on the GeoTools/GIS session, which was later joined by a group from the Collaboration session.  Feel free to edit.  These are not exhaustive at all and are unedited.  Feel free to modify/correct/add.


10 am – First Session: Geo Tools, Geo Parsing & GIS – RM 2370 – B


Samip Mallick –  U of C
-Applied for a grant for interface for census data. Like social explorer.

Tobias Boes – Notre Dame German instructor
-New things spatial mapping can tell us (literature) how does it change the intuitive lessons of the novel.
-Interested in Hyper Cities – Historical layers of maps, add annotations.
-How does this apply to language courses.

Kirk Hess
-Text encoding. Chemical writings of Issac Newton, transferred into TEI. Multimedia cataloging/archiving.
-Prob: locations are often named by the person who made the annotations/materials.  Place names change over time. Cities grow and shrink.
-Mapping videos of Vietnam War. City of Memory
-City Stories – NYC – Uses map to show where stories are from.
-Issues with things like GoogleMaps – not open source.  There are alternatives. Postal service sold zip codes to private companies.  Geography becomes proprietary. Open Source: Geo Server – akin to Google Maps.
-Sometimes Google is the easiest thought, – struggle

Ron Zacharski
-Lesser know languages
Interested in adding visualization component.

Gemma Petrie
-New to DH.
-Worked as nonprofit development director.  Worked with data that was hard to use. Implications of GIS and visualization are huge for both research and policy and fundraising.

Christopher Dickman
-Working on digital multimedia compendium at St. Louis University with a government grant to redo how they do their first year composition classes. Cognitive writing theory.
-How can we teach with this.
-Data and map visualization of authors lives.

Marjorie McLellen
-Personal narratives, place and landscape, people’s memories of their childhood and mapping that.
-Dayton flood – mapping

Historian at U of C
-19th century intellectual history
-Interested in geo parsing – methodological histories of landscapes.
-Novels- both real and imaginary places.  Map fictional places automatically by mapping real places in text.
-Giving a talk tomorrow

Jo’s work
-Sounds like a named entity task (Ron). If you have already marked up some text, you can run a dining mining algorithm to teach the computer to learn to extract these names.
-Kirk – will need to employ someone to clean up data. Is there an algorithm for this already?
-Ron – if you have a term, analyze words around the text to determine if the term refers to two different entities.
-Ron and Jo might collaborate.
-Ron- uses Python
-Christopher – DocuScope. – Will parse text for words about reason – jokes, – arguments, positive and negative feelings. (Recently in Shakespeare Quarterly).  Did a great job determine which plays were comedies and tragedies, etc. Examples, they found a tradgedy with lots of comedic language.
Ron- Do you have to train DocuScope?
Christopher- Created by Carnegie Mellon. One person, so somewhat personal.  Subjective in terms of what means positive, negative, etc.  Could be good for searching for things like place prepositions.
-Jo – once you have pulled the terms referring to Bohemia, you can analyze text around to see if it is a happy place, etc and if that changes over time.
-Kirk – Benefits of GeoServer – you can make up maps, not constrained by the Earth like GoogleMaps.
-Jo – Geo Rectifying – NYPL does a lot of these projects (taking maps and putting it on top of data). Crowdsourcing information
-Samip – MapWarper: – you can use this application and upload your own data. Once you have the geo rectified map, you can place it on to Google Maps or Geo Server

Samip: Stanford – Mapping the Republic of Letters.
Gemma: I think this is the project that lead scholars to question if the Enlightenment originated in England
Gemma: Also Spatial History at Stanford:
Jo- Stanford setting high bar. But, they aren’t really tools – they are visualizations for their own research. Jo has tried to contact them to use their tools, with no response.  Makes her frustrated that this information isn’t shared. They use GIS and highly advance visualization talents.  Nothing new, simply the best geographers in the world right now. This is not collaborative.

Samip- There is still a huge learning curve to open source tools.

Kirk and Majorie: NYC
People can upload their own content
People nominating sites would guide the work of the developers.  They would go out and research sites.  Guided by users.
Tobias: More collaborative than Stanford
Marjorie: Also a neat Run Lola Run map.

(We were joined by a bunch of other Campers from the Collaboration group)

Samip: What would make something useful to scholars? Problem with Stanford, we are only able to see what they want us to see.
Jo: She sees an issue in her teaching.  She assigns tools that are almost always proprietary – come from the private sector and not meant to help the community as a whole, just to support a few dissertations.

Karl Stadely: Issues of developing talent. What are we doing to cultivate talent? Why does programmer always have to be some outside person? Pulling out one element shouldn’t change the nature of the whole.
Marjorie – must be mindful of the potential of our students.  Must attract students into the humanities that have these talents – not just to exploit them – but because they will find exciting work to be done.
Karl: Tech is such a talent everyone outside of the academy (teaches info arch at IIT)
Peter Organiscak: a central hub to foster collaboration. No place for the community to go search for tools before you create yourself. (Or, to find something to join in on). Often, we retread the same tracks in DH. We need a place of record.
Ryan: Collaborating on building a tool to scrape newspapers for spatial history. Alternatively, it would be interesting to build something that would grow.
Peter: grad thesis: motivators of users, crowds and crowdsourcing: passion. People need to be able to find out about projects. If people could find it, students could collaborate too.
Christopher: might be issues of motivations/tenure/publications
Ryan: a central hub for DH knowledge. (DH Answers):

Jo- How do you keep people interested?
Ryan/Peter: need central management, invested parties
Karl: Maintain excitement by maintaining progress.
Jean Bauer: Need to be transparent about you got there (when building things) in open source projects.
Christopher: DH projects rather than DH answers. It would be good to be able to see what else is happening as you plan projects.
(attempt to find a URL to buy)
Peter: it would be helpful to know about project overlap before conference presentations, etc.
Ryan: Issues of credit in this kind of collaboration.
Jean Bauer: Clear acknowledgement
Kirk: Teaching Git – /git/blame Share intellectual work and credit.
Christopher: So, should we create something
Kyle R: What about? Center Net: Directory of DH labs:

Peter: Primary motivators (based on his thesis) of users: Passion/topic interest, ease of entry and participation, altruism/meaningful contribution (impact on the tool), sincerity (ownership/collaboration), money.
Ryan: No place to post your own project and find collaborators.
Kirk: We could just create a Git Hub account right now. Can be as permissive or restrictive as you want to be.
Sherman: Dork Shorts: 30 sec shorts.
Ryan: a way to say, Here’s an idea I have, anyone want to jump in?
Marjorie: Drupal Commons (like Buddy Press)
Issue: Git Hub vs. a nicer presentation with video shorts, etc.
Christopher/Marjorie: something like TED?
Christopher: A list of projects, tagged, easy to browse and search. Anyone can come to post their project. Maybe completed project and a active project sections. Project could be the tool or the result of the tool.
Ryan: A place to go when you have an idea to see if anyone else is doing something similar and if you should start something knew or try to get involved with something that is already happening.
Jo: Tibetan Himalayan Library: A collaboration/agreement of scholars working in this area to encode their notes/work in a particular way that allows this information to be available to others.
-Harvard GIS Project- You can see who else is interested in work on a certain area.  Perhaps the biggest thing out there for GIS collaboration in the humanites.
Jean: Stanford projects, looking for more data. Have worked with Electronic Enlightenment, now working with smaller projects. They use a simple MySQL Entities to Links database structure.

Lunch: Some members are going to continue planning a collaborative web-environment for projects.

An even more last minute hello

Saturday, November 20th, 2010 |

I’m Erin Prentiss, and I’m a first-year graduate student at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (whew, a lot of words to get out of the way!). I’m interested in learning about how to use technology in applied humanities–specifically in community informatics and librarianship (overlapping but different concepts there).  I tend to gravitate towards more of the doing than the studying of technology, but I am interested in both. Very recently, I administered a questionnaire to my community informatics class, and I’d like to share some thoughts about that tomorrow as well as attend some BootCamp sessions. Looking forward to seeing you all in a few hours!


ThatCampChi is almost here!

Friday, November 19th, 2010 |

Greetings Scholars, Humanists, Technologists, Creatives, Writers, Computational Scientists and more:

My name is Freddrick Logan. I’m a PhD candidate at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). My current research activities explore open video in technical and scientific communication. I study and observe learning activities that use free open source software (FOSS) to create participatory content for the web, more specifically digital video. Other research interests include the use of FOSS to create professional content, distance learning and workflow/ processes in digital-information design. I hold and apply Master of Science degrees in both Business Information Technology and Digital Cinema. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.

I also teach courses as an adjunct in Computer and Information Systems for the City Colleges of Chicago. Just to name a few—some “technologies” that interest me right now include the iPad, iPhone/ iPad app development, Piviti, VLC, Gstreamer framework, all ebook formats, HTML5, “Video on Wikipedia”, Mozilla Firefox 4 dev, Omeka, Processing.js, webM and ogg formats/ conversion tools. I love where the web is going with video right now.

Looking to learn all I can @ ThatCampChi and also looking to meet a few folks who love both Computer Science and the Humanities. Thanks to ThatCamp for this opportunity to participate!

Another Introduction

Friday, November 19th, 2010 |

I’m Michael Moore — I teach at DePaul University here in Chicago — and am looking forward to meeting everyone tomorrow.

My agenda for attending is entirely self-serving: I’m newish to Chicago, and I want to meet people in the area who are working in the areas of pedagogy, the humanities, and digital technology. Based on previous introductions, I’m going to the right place.

I coordinate my department’s — Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse — pedagogy and technology support and workshops; we’ve been focusing lately on digital portfolios, a long-term interest of mine, learning management systems (LMS) and multimodal composing. I want to explore possibilities in digital access to visual arts, and — as someone else has already mentioned — revising WordPress themes and templates.

See you in the a.m.!




Friday, November 19th, 2010 |

A little late, but I also wanted to introduce myself as well.  I recently came back to graduate English studies at Wayne State University this Fall after close to two decades of other pursuits, both academic and professional.   I am a non-traditional student taking courses at night and running a small metal fabricating business by day.  I hope that experience adds a different perspective on the topics tomorrow.   My interests for tomorrow are a couple boot camps and discussing mind mapping software and digital communications to assist those with ADHD.