Those of you who know me well, know that I enjoy camping. But lately I haven’t done much of the sleeping-in-a-tent-and-sleeping-bag variety of camping. Instead, I’ve been attending a variety of “camp” style conferences. There was THATCamp SoCal, then WhereCampSF, and just this weekend I attended OC WordCamp (oh, and in two weeks I’ll be camping yet again–this time at the mothership THATCamp in Fairfax, Virginia). What I remember nearly every time I attend one of these events, is just how stimulating it is to be an environment with similarly-geeky tech-curious people. The energy and the ideas associated with the camp movement are far more enlivening than traditional-style conferences (although, I love those too!).
Being a tech-minded historian can be lonely business. It’s also hard work to stay abreast of the latest trends in the field and to teach myself new skills. Meeting up with campers a few times a year inspires me to stretch myself in new directions and to keep focused on my digital endeavors. Learning about others’ development projects makes me a better administrator, blogger, podcaster, organizer, and researcher, as I apply their work to my own (WP plugins galore!). I came away from this past weekend with loads of ideas to apply at Chapman University and to the Past Tense lecture series and to my efforts with the Making History Podcast.
There are so many problems with the ossified structures of traditional academic conferences, and it seems to me that planning committees could do well to look to the Camp movement for keeping their events relevant in a post-web 2.0 world (pssst….I even learned of a groovy event-planning WP plugin that they could use).