I’ve attended more THATCamps than I can keep track of now. THATCamp Prime and THATCampBayArea and THATCampSoCal are standard annual events for me, with a few others working out in conjunction with other conferences that I attend along the way. I’m used to the drill of TC and as a result I’ve even begun to wonder whether the familiarity of the unconference experience meant a loss of use-value for me. You see, I easily become weary of the conversations about the abysmal academic market or the lack of funding for graduate student projects or the lack of women in tech-fields. Not to say that these aren’t important conversations, I just don’t enjoy the repetition very much–I want to start the revolution, not just talk about what needs changing.
And while there was some repetition of some of those typical conversations at this THATCamp, I found it to to still be quite useful for me, and this is why:
- in the session about local DH collaboration, most of us who attended had been at the very first THATCampSoCal three years ago and had been involved in various local initiatives since then, including the now mostly-defunct DHSoCal website. We committed to updating the DHSoCal presence that we created so many years ago by migrating our activities to newer platforms like Google Hangouts and Twitter. This session had a very proactive feel to it and revved my enthusiasm for cross-campus collaborations.
- those of us who met to discuss the role of Academic Technology at our campuses share many of the same problems with encouraging technology use. The wide variety of suggestions for doing more (and doing better) made me feel good about what I have tried, as well as hopeful about future possibilities. The take-away message for me personally was the reminder that I need to listen to the various constituents on campus more, and consider their needs before I push the latest shiny-new tech-tools. Though this might not be true at every institution, at mine I believe that helping faculty to use a few tools very successfully is better than offering them with so many possibilities that they feel frustrated.
- And finally, what will probably be the very-most-important thing that emerged from my experience at THATCamp was the faculty-friend who sat me down and asked about the state of my career and then nudged me to do more publishing (knowing that I desperately need this for my cv). Actually, she didn’t just nudge me, she sent me her recent book proposal as a model and helped me to frame some rough ideas for how I could draft my own and then encouraged me to do so.
All of these bullet points have one thing in common, and that’s the value of attending a conference where others are invested in the DH community and are excited about sharing with they know with others. There’s a generosity at THATCamp conferences that is above and beyond what I’ve experienced at other academic venues. Attending this event today reminded me just how much I need the mentoring and examples of other scholars in this field, and also affirmed my hope that I can offer the same to others, too.