THATCamp Melbourne (review)

I am pretty happy that THATCamp Melbourne is over and done with and that we can now turn our attention to some other projects that will keep the humanities + technology momentum going over the short to longer term.  There were about 60-70 attendees at the event, which is fine and fairly much the average for these types of events.

And I thought that there was a good balance of participants; about 1/3 were from interstate; about half the attendees were from universities and the other half were from the cultural sector such as museums, libraries, and the Victorian Public Record Office (the digital humanities is the sound of many hands clapping!)

I was particularly impressed by the session proposals that ranged from the theoretical, speculative and critical to the focussed technical discussions.  The session on HTML 5 and Javascript were particularly strong in terms of the technologies, methods and critical technical discussions. The sessions on collections and online reputation management were well-attended and I often didn’t like having to end lively discussions so as to keep people on time and remind them of the next session.  The boot-camp sessions were  also well-received and I can’t wait to start using Omeka after Tim Sherratt’s excellent demonstration of its capabilities and plug-in features (it looks a lot like WordPress….yeaaah!).

Creating the sessions at the beginning of the day could have perhaps been imagined more creatively (my fault here).  But in the end we only needed about 15 sessions and we had 17 so everyone was easily accommodated (there are other ways to do scheduling and perhaps it is worth exploring alternatives in future THATCamp events. Plus I am not sure that everyone knew what the sessions were about given that we could only write simple one line descriptions on the white board). And, as we are in the centre of the city, many people were coming and going and had individual requests for scheduling sessions which they were leading that was fairly challenging to accomodate. But, we managed to schedule some good themes around collections, tools, and theoretical discussions which appeared to work-out ok.

And one attendee mentioned that they liked ‘the vibe’ of the event which I took as a great complement as this is important if we are to build bridges between people with different degrees of investment in technology and/or the humanities. This is a ‘hard-interdisciplinary’ relationship and there still aren’t too many productive places where the ‘two cultures’ come together in an innovative and collegial way.

Opening Session of THATCamp Melbourne



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