Session proposal: Tumblr as Introductory Platform for Digital Scholarship

Scheduled for 3:30-4:20 in Room 601, 66 W 12th Street

In this session, I’m interested in exploring Tumblr as an introductory platform for digital scholarship. This session will provide an overview of the platform, strong examples of use rooted in scholarship and access, and finally select and post sample content to our own test blog using open access materials.

This session will take a closer look at a popular social media powerhouse made for the presentation of multimedia materials, and how the DH community can take full advantage of the platform. Flexible, intuitive, and familiar to many new users, this platform supports clear opportunities for scholarship through design, display, discovery, and description. This session aims to provide an overview of the key features of this platform, as well as outline the opportunities presented by the platform for scholarship and creation within the DH community.


Workshop | Beyond Networking: How to Use Twitter as a Medium for History

THATCamp AHA 2015 will feature many unconference-style sessions, which we’ll schedule on the day of the event. (If you’re registered, we encourage you to propose a session soon.) We’ve also pre-scheduled two hands-on workshop sessions. One, imagining a collaborative history of mass incarceration, is described in a previous post and will be led by the Humanities Action Lab at The New School. The second workshop, led by Caleb McDaniel, Assistant Professor of History at Rice University, is described below. Stay tuned to the THATCamp AHA schedule link for updates.

This workshop will explore the use of Twitter as an experimental platform for historical argument and narrative.

Twitter news

A mashup of Twitter news about #Ferguson protests and @Every3Minutes tweets.

Many academic historians now use Twitter as a valuable tool for social networking, as seen by the explosive growth of the #Twitterstorians community. Some historians are also beginning to embrace the medium as a way to do “public history” and engage wider audiences.

Now that numerous journalists, activists, politicians, and members of the general public also tweet, how should historians bring expertise, questions, stories, and interpretations into the public sphere of social media? What are the best practices we should embrace and the potential mistakes we may want to avoid? How might Twitter be used in the history classroom, or by a historic site or museum? Are there particular kinds of “doing history” that Twitter enables?

In this session, we will first examine a number of kinds of historical Twitter feeds, from “on this day” accounts like @RealTimeWW1 to primary source feeds like @JQAdams_MHS and @MobyDickAtSea. We will also talk about strategies that any historian with a Twitter feed can use, such as chained “Twitter essays” and hashtags. Finally, we will discuss new examples of history “Twitterbots” like @Every3Minutes and @RedScareBot.

Along the way, Caleb will share tips for Twitter users at all levels of experience, including:

  • setting up and managing multiple Twitter accounts
  • modifying Twitter profiles and avatars
  • understanding hashtags
  • scheduling tweets
  • using third-party tools like Storify
  • a gentle introduction to coding a Twitterbot and using the Twitter API

Whether you are a seasoned Twitterstorian or a Twitter novice, come join us for a hands-on exploration of what it looks like to do history 140 characters at a time.

Workshops | A Collaborative Digital History of Mass Incarceration

The following workshop (in 2 parts) is proposed for THATCamp AHA by Liz Sevcenko of The New School.

Join a national collaboration to develop a digital history of incarceration.

The Humanities Action Lab Global Dialogues on Incarceration at The New School is a consortium of 12 universities across the country (and counting) working together to develop a digital and physical exhibit on the past, present, and future of incarceration.  The effort is based on the Guantanamo Public Memory Project, created by about 500 students in 11 universities working with people who lived, worked, served, or were held at the US naval station in Cuba.  The Global Dialogues on Incarceration will open in the Spring of 2016 and travel to each of the participating communities through 2018, with lots of opportunity for participation starting now.

During THATCamp, the current university partners are coming together for the first time, and are seeking to connect with participants in THATCamp to imagine what the digital platform could look like. We propose a conversation to address ideas and questions, during two time slots, as follows:

Session (1) 10:30-11:20

The first session will be brainstorming ways to developing a digital history of incarceration that links to an exhibit in real space, addressing questions such as:

  • How can we build a digital history of incarceration in collaboration with incarcerated people when there is no internet access in prisons?
  • How can we connect digital media to the in-person learning and dialogues happening around the exhibit?
Session (2) 11:30-12:20
The second session will discuss building a platform for collaboration among all the students and stakeholders across the country who are developing the digital history, addressing questions including:
  • How can we create a platform for collaboration and dialogue among all the students and stakeholders working in so many different contexts?
  • What existing platforms would be best to harness here — and are there things we would need to create?
  • How can we connect our students and communities?

Look forward to connecting and learning from everyone!

Your Questions, Answered: A THATCamp AHA Preview


Historians texting.

As one of the co-organizers of this year’s THATCamp AHA, I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately.

  • “What exactly is THATCamp?”
  • “What should I expect at an unconference?”
  • “Is it specific to historians?”

On this site, you can visit the About page for detailed answers to these questions, and the THATCamp 101 page for some basic instructions for the day (most important: bring a laptop!)

Earlier this week the AHA did a nice job of explaining what THATCamps are, so to their description I’ve added some more specifics:

THATCamp, which stands for The Humanities and Technology Camp, is an inexpensive (in our case, free), open gathering where participants set the agenda themselves. Topics are proposed in advance via the website or on the day itself–this is what makes it an “unconference.” During the sessions, you can expect wide ranging conversations with humanists and technologists of all skill levels interested in learning and building together, collaboratively exploring questions on any aspect of the application of technology to the humanities. The sessions you attend might be a general discussion, a project-based conversation, or a workshop focusing on a particular technological skill.

Join us on January 6!

Join us on January 6 at The New School.

In the next week, we’ll open the site to your session proposals, which the group will vote on together at The New School the morning of January 6. We’ve also been working to arrange some pre-scheduled workshops. One, proposed by The New School’s Liz Sevcenko, will discuss a collaborative digital history of mass incarceration; the other, led by Rice University’s Caleb McDaniel, explores Twitter as a medium for history.

THATCamp AHA is open to all, not just to those attending the annual meeting. Sure, you’ll meet fellow historians — #twitterstorians or experienced digital folk — but others will be new to digital research and pedagogies. We expect a wide range of participants and welcome first-time attendees as well as veteran THATCampers: graduate students, college faculty and K-12 teachers, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, independent scholars, developers and programmers, administrators, managers, and funders as well as people from the non-profit sector, the for-profit sector, and anyone interested in the application of technology to the study of the humanities.

You don’t need to come to THATCamp with any special skills, other than an open mind and a willingness to participate, learn, and share — so do spread the word to friends and colleagues. You might even take a peek at some of last year’s THATCamp AHA conversations following the Twitter hashtag, #THATCampAHA. Don’t be shy: register today!

Still have questions? Ask away in the comments.


Welcome to The New School, THATCamp!

I would like to welcome AHA THATCampers to The New School, a university established in Greenwich Village in 1919, on January 6, immediately following the American Historical Association’s annual meeting, January 2-5, in New York City. I want to thank my colleagues Dan Royles, Monica Mercado and Shane Landrum for volunteering to organize. This is a particular gift at a moment when many of us are absorbed in activism against violence toward communities of color that have been highlighted by the grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases.

THATCamp is being co-sponsored by the Humanities Action Lab, a New School initiative of which I am co-director, and one that has put #DH at the center of its practice. Although our web site is still under construction and being edited, you can see more of what we are about here. This leads me to some of the things I am interested in pursuing at THATCamp:

  • How does #DH intervene in moments of national crisis, like the one we are in now? How can we use the humanities, made public by our digital practice, to give voice to communities that are endangered by decades of escalated policing, and address the failure of understanding that white communities often have about conditions they do not experience or see?
  • As we move forward with a progressive #DH scholarly agenda, how do we both compete for resources that support our practice and at the same time not reinforce the structural subordination of poor and marginalized populations who may not have access to our work?
  • Does technology have the power to open universities to communities who are excluded from higher ed because of structural racism and classism?
  • What tools might matter to the above agenda — what tools reinforce structural inequalities?

If these questions seem highly provocative, it’s only because they are! I am sure that many of us will be having these conversations at AHA, but the unconference would allow us to put them front and center.


Book Housing for AHA 2015

Ludovic Hirlimann:

Kazakh yurt

If you are coming to the AHA annual meeting in New York and planning to stay for THATCamp on January 6th you should register for the meeting and make your hotel reservations as soon as possible. The hotel rates at each of the three conference hotels are excellent and available for three days before and after the annual meeting itself. But there are a limited number of rooms available at this rate, and the allocation for the days following the meeting are selling out quickly. So if you’re coming to THATCamp and want to stay on either the 5th or the 6th I recommend registering as soon as possible.

Announcing THATCamp AHA 2015


We are very excited to announce that the AHA Annual Meeting will yet again have an associated THATCamp, and even more excited that it will be hosted by the Humanities Action Lab at The New School for Public Engagement. It will take place on Tuesday, January 6th from 10:00AM to 4:00PM. Information about registration and the event itself will be available soon, so watch this space for more news and details. You can also read more about the THATCamp movement and browse other THATCamps at

We look forward to seeing you in New York in January.