THATcamp Piedmont 2014

This Saturday I attended my first THATcamp and it was amazing! The inaugural 2012 THATcamp Piedmont was hosted at Davidson College, in Davidson, North Carolina, and the 2013 event as held at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This year THATcamp headed back to Davidson.

Before the actual morning, there were several known workshops, a Hackathon that would go throughout the day, and one suggested session. As promised, on Saturday morning a diverse group of impromptu sessions filled out the schedule further.

One way THATcamps remain similar to traditional conferences is the inevitably difficult decision of which session/workshop/event to attend. THATcamps overcome this difficulty in a way that traditional conferences have not. A page has been created for a large portion of the day’s sessions and linked to the primary schedule on GoogleDocs. (Schedule can be found at tinyurl.com/thatcamppmt) Through this connection of files I can see not only notes, sites, and cites for the sessions I attended, but also notes for those I wasn’t able to hear.

The sessions/workshops I attended in the flesh were informative, inspiring, and fun. In the first session I learned about using Neatline in Omeka to create multi-layered maps. Anelise H Shrout shared Neatline examples with us, then got us going on Omeka.

Next I attended a session guided by Mark Sample and Kristen Eshleman on the “Domain of One’s Own” project. While the session definitely provoked some feelings of jealousy directed at the students who are given a domain name of their own through their universities, it also inspired me to look into Reclaim Hosting and sign up for my own domain! (You can expect this blog to eventually make the move to a new address once I figure out how everything works)

After a delicious lunch I got to play around with Snap!, the programming language/tool from UC Berkeley that allows you to build code using blocks that snap together. Raghu Ramanujan was a great instructor through our experiments with Snap! and we managed to get our “sprites” to draw shapes and play tag by the time the workshop was over.

The final session I attended was led by Fuji Lozada and focused on social networking. Fuji asked us all to put our name on a piece of paper and list the three people in the room we talk to the most, he then entered that data into an Excel sheet that was plugged into the UCINET program. Voila! A simple and small social network emerged from our answers. We also looked at several different sites like WolframAlpha, Immersion, and TagsExplorer which offer different types of networking analysis.

In this short recounting I’m leaving out lots of other info that was shared, discussed, and pondered over. The long and short of it for me is that I was exposed to many different tools, resources, and methods that I was not familiar with. The day especially made me rethink the potential for my own thesis. Tools like the DH Press WordPress plug-in made me see the potential for creating a visually inspired narrative about some of the Antebellum Charlotte women I study. (DH Press was also another reason I decided to go ahead and sign up with Reclaim, as I want to play around with this very cool tool to better understand the possibilities.) I left the beautiful Davidson campus feeling inspired and energized and for that, I think the organizers of this years THATcamp Piedmont!

Check out the day’s tweets at #THATCamp #pmt