What is a THATCamp?

Along with formal presentations the 2017 Digital Humanities Week features a series of workshops without prior topics. These are known by various names, including hackathons, unconferences, and Open Space conferences. In the digital humanities they are often called THATCamps, for the “Technology And The Humanities” camp.

As Amanda French puts it, a THATCamp is to a conference what a seminar is to a lecture, what a party at your house is to a church wedding, what a pick-up game of Ultimate Frisbee is to an NBA game, what a jam band is to a symphony orchestra: it’s more informal and more participatory. To get the most out of THATCamp, have fun, be productive, and stay collegial. Don’t bring a presentation (unless you’re teaching a workshop). Propose a session and take charge of running it. Talk, make, teach, play. Listen. Help take notes. Sign up for Dork Shorts. If a session isn’t useful for you, go to another one (that’s the Law of Two Feet). Bring a laptop, not a tablet. Dress comfortably. Consider volunteering to teach something. Keep a record of the experience. Don’t forget to fill out an evaluation.

While anyone can suggest a topic just by showing up to a THATCamp, the organizers of the 2017 Digital Humanities Week have asked participants to register in advance so they can account for the interests of everyone who attends. Several of the THATCamps scheduled throughout the week also have a featured theme; this is just a way of attracting people interested in that topic at the same time, and by no means prevents other participants from creating ad hoc groups based on their own interests.

Further resources

THATCamp Ground Rules (4:50)

A video we didn’t make (2:50)

Here’s a great video about unconferencing at Transparency Camp: just about everything in it applies to THATCamp as well.