Proposal: One Session | One Solution

CONTEXT: Many (most?) of you will remember the “One Week | One Tool” event hosted in 2010 by CHNM (and funded by the NEH) that resulted in Anthologize. The event was described on their site as “a unique summer institute, one that aim[ed] to teach participants how to build an open source digital tool for humanities scholarship by actually building a tool, from inception to launch, in a week.” The resulting tool, Anthologize–on which development continues–is designed to “[u]se the power of WordPress to transform online content into an electronic book.”

For more information about Anthologize, check out Julie Meloni’s ProfHacker post on the experience as well Tom Scheinfeldt’s “Lessons from One Week | One Tool”:

PROPOSAL: Inspired, in part, by the locally-hosted “Random Hacks of Kindness” 2011 events taking place on the same weekend as THATCampCHNM and THATCampLAC, I am proposing “One Session | One Solution.” Can we learn from the much blogged experience of those who created Anthologize to attempt something similar on a smaller scale: a high-speed hackathon taking place during an unconference? Building a tool from scratch is probably beyond the scope of one THATCamp session (or one THATCamp, for that matter). However, a smaller solution to a well-defined problem has a good chance of being found if a group of talented, motivated campers combine forces and hack something together. Even if the result is a technical plan, rather than a finished product, the days (or weeks, or months) after the face-to-face unconference could be spent collaborating on making that plan a reality.

Interested? Please leave a suggestion as to what problem (related to higher ed or the digital humanities–both broadly defined) might be productively addressed by such a session. You don’t have to have a solution already in mind, though if you do you should feel free to sketch it out here. Since the start of THATCamp is more than a week away, we have a pretty good amount of time to brainstorm possibilities and reach some consensus before we all meet face-to-face.


[Creative Commons-licensed flickr photo by dullhunk]


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  1. George H. Williams

    Here’s a list of possibilities from already proposed sessions.

    I tried to choose proposals that seemed to first identify a need for something that doesn’t yet exist and then propose a session that would either start creating that something or that would facilitate a conversation about creating that something.

    So we could follow up one of these sessions with the “One Session | One Solution” approach to the topic, or we could turn one of these sessions into “One Session | One Solution.” Mostly, I’m just trying to initiate a pre-unconference discussion.

    Match make/ paper prototype nifty visual interfaces for particular kinds of digital objects and collections,,” by Trevor Owens

    A new way of extracting, sharing and re-using collection data: “The future of Zotero,” by Tim Sherratt.

    Building a better backchannel,” by Mark Sample.

    What Omeka-in-the-Classroom could or should look like: “Archives, encoding, and students, oh my!” by Tonya Howe.

    Creating (or locating) a theme and/or a plugin to enhance the accessibility of either the front end or the back end a commonly-used CMS like WordPresss, Omeka, Drupla, Joomla, or the like: “Making the digital humanities accessible,” by George Williams.

    Other ideas also welcome, if you’ve got ’em!

  2. dorn

    Give us about hour to dream about what might be and then leave it hanging? Evil, George. Evil. 😉

    Okay, so we need issues with plausible fast hacks? A few ideas:

    1) A greasemonkey-like script for one or two browsers that would replace text with defined objects from a publicly-readable or local-file table. Example use: Replace displayed names in a Blackboard discussion board with the name and an image/avatar. My problem this solves: students in discussion boards on Blackboard (and probably other LMSs) use the usual socially-inept responses, and there’s no reminder when reading an entry of who wrote it. (I suspect it would have other uses, too — someone would create a “pants”-style meme table I’m sure.)

    2) Inline-frame add-on to Google Docs forms (or another forms tool). Example uses: 1) Rubric scoring of text answers (for assignments) that would display the student response side-by-side with scoring prompts. (Which ProfHacker entry discussed using Google Docs Forms for grading?) 2) Variant of #1, but used for calibrating multiple graders’ responses.

  3. Amanda French

    Y’all can have two sessions if you want. 🙂

    You know what I want? Hate that it’s so CHNM-centered — that’s sheer accident, I swear. But I want an Omeka plugin and/or theme that’ll make page images display like a book. Maybe that’s a terrible idea: should just generate an epub or something. But that’s something I’ve been kinda wanting.

  4. George H. Williams

    Thanks for the suggestions!

    Sherman, I like both of your ideas. Your second one might be connected to Ryan Cordell’s “Using Google Docs Forms to Run a Peer-Review Writing Workshop.” (And it also reminds me of Jason B. Jones’ “Rubrick” project.)

    Amanda, by “like a book” do you mean featuring pages and the ability to flip through them with some kind of fluid, animated interface?

  5. dorn

    George: Thanks! I’d forgotten about Rubrick, but that’s definitely along the same line. Maybe I’m thinking of a quick hack to get at a portion of the idea.

  6. George H. Williams

    Here’s another idea: Creating Omeka plugins/themes to make a site smartphone-friendly and tablet-friendly. With WordPress, for example, you can install WPTouch (among other choices) to make your site smartphone-friendly and OnSwipe to make your site have a Flipboard-like magazine appearance when viewed on an iPad.

  7. Erin

    If you guys end up doing the mobile theme/plugin, you may want to check out this PHP script: detectmobilebrowsers.mobi/

    I’m so jealous.

  8. Steven Lubar

    Here’s a project that might work, more of a brainstorming and organizing effort than a technology one:

    People who work in and teach about museums don’t have good examples of exhibit design and exhibit labels to use as examples. There’s no online database of good exhibit labels, or even of all exhibit labels, or of good images of exhibits. It’s a natural for crowdsourcing, though. We need to set up a site that encourages the uploading of labels, either bits of exhibit scripts or images of labels in use, and of pictures taken in exhibits and floor plans of exhibits. Some could be annotated, some could be offered as is, and tagged by other users.

    Over time, we’d have a source to point students and practitioners to, an archive of examples to teach from, and an ad-hoc record of interesting work in the field.

    We could organize this in an hour, and build it over the next few years…


  9. George H. Williams

    How about mobile apps for digital humanities projects? I don’t mean apps that allow people to browse content but rather apps that allow people to contribute content. With several mobile devices sporting GPS, pretty good cameras, decent microphones (or an AUX input for a good quality microphone), and HD video cameras, why not create apps for iOS and Android that put content creation tools right into people’s hands?

  10. George H. Williams

    What about a syllabus (including suggested readings and assignments) for an undergraduate and/or graduate course covering “Introduction to Digital Humanities”? I’m imagining a kind of template that could be adopted (and adapted) by anyone to suit their own particular needs.

  11. thowe

    I really like the idea of a suggested reading list for an UG/G course on intro to DH–I’ve got an open zotero group library here, as a complement to my session proposal, and we can definitely expand it for more general use!

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