How do I propose a session?

Leave a reply at the end of this page to propose a session. Your session proposal will appear in the comments and we’ll all be able to read and comment on it beforehand. The morning of the event, all THATCamp participants will vote on those proposals (and probably come up with several new ones), and then all together will work out how best to put those sessions into a schedule.

Remember that you will be expected to facilitate the sessions you propose, so that if you propose a hacking session, you should have the germ of a project to work on; if you propose a workshop, you should be prepared to teach it or find a teacher; if you propose a discussion of the Digital Public Library of America, you should be prepared to summarize what that is, begin the discussion, keep the discussion going, and end the discussion.

When do I propose a session?

You can propose a session as early as you like, but most people publish their session proposals to the THATCamp site during the week before the THATCamp begins. It’s a good idea to check the THATCamp site frequently in the week beforehand to see and comment on everyone’s session proposals. You can also come up with a last-minute idea and propose it to the THATCamp participants during the scheduling session, which is the first session of the THATCamp.

Why are sessions proposed this way?

Proposing sessions just before a THATCamp and building a schedule during the first session of a THATCamp ensures that sessions are honest and informal, that session topics are current, and that unconference participants will collaborate on a shared task. An unconference, in Tom Scheinfeldt’s words, is fun, productive, and collegial, and at THATCamp, therefore, “[W]e’re not here to listen and be listened to. We’re here to work, to participate actively.[…] We’re here to get stuff done.” Listen further:

Everyone should feel equally free to participate and everyone should let everyone else feel equally free to participate. You are not students and professors, management and staff here at THATCamp. At most conferences, the game we play is one in which I, the speaker, try desperately to prove to you how smart I am, and you, the audience member, tries desperately in the question and answer period to show how stupid I am by comparison. Not here. At THATCamp we’re here to be supportive of one another as we all struggle with the challenges and opportunities of incorporating technology in our work, departments, disciplines, and humanist missions.

See the About page for more information on the philosophy of unconferences.

What do I propose?

There are roughly four things people do in THATCamp sessions: Talk, Make, Teach, and Play. Sometimes one session contains elements of all these, but it’s also a fair taxonomy for THATCamp sessions. In a Talk session proposal, you offer to lead a group discussion on a topic or question of interest to you. In a Make session proposal, you offer to lead a small group in a hands-on collaborative working session with the aim of producing a draft document or piece of software. In a Teach session, you offer to teach a skill, either a “hard” skill or a “soft” skill. In a Play session, anything goes — you suggest literally playing a game, or you suggest some quality group playtime with one or more technologies, or what you will.

Talk session examples

Make session examples

Teach session examples

Play session examples

11 Responses to Propose

  1. Hey! Very excited about the conference and THATCamp again this year.

    I’d like to participate in a discussion about Linked Data and the Humanities. I’d love to see some examples of projects that use linked open data, or brainstorm some ideas for how linked data can be of use to DH projects.

  2. I’d like to propose a Teach session on minimal processing for digital preservation. On Thursday, I’m co-presenting with Patrice Prud’homme on an IMLS-sponsored preservation project our team (Digital POWRR) just completed. We all know how much the landscape of options changes, though, so maybe this could be a Teach-and-Share? Or a Play session along the lines of Donelle McKinley’s 2012 “Share Your Favourite Tools” session listed above?

  3. I’d like to propose a Talk session about (for lack of a better term) “best practices” for archiving artistic content produced by working artists who are rightly too busy producing their work to worry about how it might be preserved or remembered in the future. My institution (UNT Special Collections) was recently approached by an artistic organization that managed to rescue many cultural assets literally from a dumpster and the donor expressed the concern for the wealth of artistic assets that are lost or thrown away through benign neglect. This is, of course, especially relevant to the digital age when changes to manuscripts, etc. can be easily overwritten in Word. Anyway, I’ve been struggling with this issue (does an archivist intervene early? seek out artists? — this feels very predatory) and would be interested in feedback/other perspectives.

  4. Many academic libraries are removing books, microforms, etc from libraries to remote facilities to make room for more study spaces, computer labs, and power outlets. I propose a session around an idea I had to create interactive (browsable), virtual representations of the book stacks that have been removed. The session could be talk/play and we could brainstorm and expand on this idea. Or, depending on the level of skill present, the session could get hack-y.