Saturday, October 24, 2009

Five Take Aways from THATCamp Pacific Northwest

THATCamp Pacific Northwest was a great success, thanks to the hard-work of Julie Meloni and others at Washington State University. Unconferences such as THATCamp are said to be "user generated" but that is only true of the sessions--someone has to reserve the space and pay for the coffee and make sure everyone can get online and a hundred other things to make a successful meeting. Anyway, I learned so much and have a lot to think about. Here are a few random insights/resources/ideas that I am mulling over:
  1. There are a LOT of us doing interesting work in digital humanities in the Pacific Northwest and we never meet one another. More than 40 people gave up a Saturday to travel from Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and the Puget Sound to Pullman (Pullman!) for the chance just to talk about digital humanities.
  2. We should not waste effort recreating resources that are already out there. As Dave Lester of the CHNM said create scholarship, not destinations.
  3. Apparently some digital projects that were created with public funds have since vanished behind pay walls! This is both obscene and easy to understand--as public money ran out and institutional support eroded, digital projects were adopted by commercial entities that could at least keep them alive. (I am eager to learn of specific examples of this phenomena, so email or tweet me or whatever if you know of any.)
  4. Humanities scholars working on digital projects should reach beyond their disciplines to their natural allies in libraries, museums, the genealogical community,  teachers, the open-source movement, and elsewhere.
  5. Michael Paulus of Whitman College made an important point: The Northwest needs a digital humanities center. Such a center could help prepare grant proposals, host meetings, form collaborative networks, sponsor digital projects, etc. We can start small--perhaps the center begins as an email list. Michael, I'm looking at you!

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