English grad student organizes digital “unconference” at Fordham


From digital pedagogy to text mining to library support for digital scholarship, THATCampNY 2012, which took place at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus on October 5-6, included almost thirty sessions related to the digital humanities. At least 95 students, faculty, librarians, and staff came from CUNY, Columbia University, the New York Public Library, Rutgers University, Cornell University, as well as from Michigan and beyond. THATCampNY 2012 was organized by Elizabeth Cornell, Pre-doctoral Fellow in Fordham’s English Department, along with Jonathan Cain, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Hunter College, and Tatiana Bryant, Reference Associate, NYU Libraries.

Several workshops were offered. Kristen Garlock, Associate Director of Education and Outreach at JSTOR, the online library database, introduced participants to a set of web-based tools for selecting and interacting with content using JSTOR’s “Data for Research” tool. Alex Gil, Digital Scholarship Coordinator at Columbia University, led a workshop on Omeka, a tool for the management of collections of digital assets. Chris Sula Assistant Professor of Information and Library Science from the Pratt Institute, led a workshop on Gephi, an open source program for network visualization and analysis.

Discussion sessions had a more informal structure than workshops, but were no less dynamic. Roger Panetta, Visiting Professor of History at Fordham, directed an information-gathering session on ways to take online student work beyond sophisticated blog posts. Kimon Kermidas, from the Bard Graduate Center, led a discussion on platforms and best practices for online scholarly publishing. Lucy Bruell, who oversees NYU’s Literature, Arts, and Medicine database, had a working session on how to overhaul this vast resource. Jared Simard offered an introduction on platforms available for mapping and timelines, and he explored questions of how the DH community can facilitate acquisition of programming tools.

THATCamp is a series of free "unconferences" devoted to hands-on work and discussion of the intersection of technology and the humanities. It is hosted by research and cultural institutions multiple times a year. THATCamp participants include researchers, students, librarians, archivists, curators, educators, technologists, and others interested in using technology to produce humanities scholarship. Popular with both scholars and practitioners, there were over forty-five THATCamps worldwide between 2008 and 2011, and over twenty are planned for 2012.