The History of Science Society sponsored its third THATCamp this year at the Society’s annual meeting. About eighteen people showed up on Sunday morning, the last day of the conference, to explore how to better use and develop digital scholarship. We covered everything from how to use Zotero, to organizing mountains of digital files in your laptop (on Windows, try xplorer²), to understanding the code “under the hood” in WordPress that can supercharge your blog. At one point, a breakout session drew several participants to the other side of the room where they discussed the use of gaming software for teaching and maybe even presenting research. (If you are interested you can peruse the Google document that was created during the camp: Notes from THATCampHSS 2016.)
THATCamp stands for The Humanities and Technology Camp. The main THATCamp.org website explains that it is “an open, inexpensive meeting where humanists and technologists of all skill levels learn and build together in sessions proposed on the spot.”
In the Atlanta meeting, participants ranged from graduate students to seasoned faculty, and all ranges of technical expertise were represented. As an unconference, our first order of business was to create the program. A few participants had suggested sessions on the THATCampHSS blog site but most were proposed in the room as we learned what each other was working on. The final program that we adopted gave us about six distinct sessions
The Sunday camp lasted from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, a change from previous years, when it was held on Thursday. The new schedule this year made it easier for some people to participate, because they could simply extend their stay in Atlanta a few hours. The catered coffee, morning snacks, and lunch was sponsored by HSS, so campers did not leave the conference hungry. Indeed, the food was top notch. Thanks go out to Greg Macklem and Amy Hokkanen and the amazing catering staff at the Westin for providing such great service.
THATCamp meetings at the HSS conferences are being organized and promoted by the Technology and Communication Commission, whose mandate is to ensure that HSS meets it strategic plan goals regarding digital scholarship. THATCamps help foster new work in digital history of science because they allow people to come together with questions about how to get started, exciting ideas about ongoing projects, and tools to show off. Participants can interact in a more dynamic atmosphere than in normal paper-driven sessions; and the sessions foster the spirit of the open, creative web. People interested in THATCamp should watch for announcements from HSS as we draw near to next year’s meeting in Toronto. You should also check out THATCamp.org or follow @thatcamp; there are often camps taking place in your area at different times during the year.