How do I propose a session?

Once you register for your THATCamp and are approved, you will receive a user account on the THATCamp website. You should receive your login information by email. Before the THATCamp, you should log in to the THATCamp site, click on Propose (this page!) –> Add “Leave a Reply” at the bottom, then write and post your session proposal. Your session proposal will appear on the bottom of this page, and we’ll all be able to read and comment on it beforehand. (If you haven’t worked with WordPress before, see for help.) The morning of the event, all THATCamp participants will vote on these proposals (and come up with several new ones), and then all together we 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 on time.

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 playing around as a group with one or more technologies, or just doing something fun or original.

Talk session examples

Make session examples

Teach session examples

Play session examples

8 Responses to Propose

  1. Diane Cline says:

    I’d like to see a session called something like ” What do we want? XX. When do we want it? Now!”‘ — If we were asked tomorrow by a dean, provost, or the Library what would be most helpful to move our projects along, what would we ask for? what is your XX? I’d like to be ready with a strong answer and hope collectively we can envision what it would take to get to the next level in DH here.

  2. I’d propose a session on “Brainstorming uses for Flickr and Tumblr (and other social media) data in DH”.

    GW Libraries has received an NHPRC grant to (among other things) add support for Flickr and Tumblr to Social Feed Manager, a tool for collecting social media data for research purposes. To make this as useful/successful as possible, it would be helpful to hear the hopes/dreams/aspirations for DH researchers that may potentially use Flickr/Tumblr/other social media data.

  3. Play-talk-? : Institutional MediaWiki, or how I learned to relax and enjoy the Wiki.

    The Folger has recently implemented an outword-facing, publicly readable but gated wiki. I’m happy to talk about wiki development in institutional settings, the challenges of a gated but publically readable wiki, or mediaWiki quirks. I’d also be happy to show folks around Folgerpedia (the wiki of all things Folger), explain our implementation and engagement strategies, and discuss the best way of managing writing/reading institutional history and subject-specific content in public. This could be as hands-on as folks want. If anyone wants to try and make an account, you can go here:

  4. Wikis & Owls: Communicating in Growing DH Communities

    I’d like to hear from others who work/ed in small DH communities how they have communicated with and encouraged others in their community. Listservs? Hashtags? Blogs? Email?

  5. Liz Settoducato says:

    I’d like to see a session on Queering Information, which I will happily co-facilitate with Faith Weis.

    Our hope is to give time and space to a conversation about the intersections of queer identity and the field of information, or how we can queer information by utilizing non-normative ideas and practices. Examples of possible topics include how we can use digital technologies to preserve and archive the stories of queer communities (especially older LGBTQ folk), the differential valuation of various forms of information and knowledge production (“legitimate” versus “illegitimate” etc.), and how we can improve accessibility, visibility, and beyond through digital technologies. All respectful voices and participants are welcome!

  6. Angela Spidalette says:

    I would like to see something about Funding the Humanities: How to find funding in a competitive field. I know one was done last year but I think this is always a great thing to think about!

  7. Joseph Koivisto says:

    Would love a brainstorming session on the future of crowdsourcing. Several recent projects have shown the great potential for crowd engagement on a great number of DH initiatives, producing exciting results and creating a new universe of volun-peers. But how do we envision the future of collaborative engagement on DH initiatives? What will be the next step in the evolution of crowdsourcing? Conversation would focus on both methodological approaches and technological solutions. Could also tie in to the proposed session on social media use.

  8. I’d be glad to help facilitate a session on creating digital archives from different collections, likeRemembering Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre, and all that goes into that. I’d especially like suggestions on outreach!

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