Phew, what a year for THATCamp. In 2010, there’ve been seventeen, yes seventeen, THATCamps, and there are eighteen more THATCamps planned so far for 2011, including THATCamp Southern California, which is just around the corner. Much farther out are the ones most recently registered: THATCamp New York (yes! finally!), THATCamp Montréal, THATCamp NCPH at the National Council on Public History meeting in Pensacola, FL, THATCamp University of Western Ontario, THATCamp Switzerland, and THATCamp Saigon — which last will be our first THATCamp in Asia. If you’re interested in helping out with any of those, e-mail email@example.com or contact the organizer directly at the e-mail address listed in the registry.
There are a few things about this spate of THATCamps in 2010 that I find particularly awesome. First, it’s international. Working with THATCamp has put me in touch with an international community that I was simply closed off from before. This year, I helped to translate THATCamp Paris’s Digital Humanities Manifesto, I installed a translation plugin on thatcamp.org, and I am planning to teach a WordPress workshop at THATCamp Florence in the spring. And, of course, I spoke (virtually) at THATCamp Canberra:
Second, scholarly associations are taking notice; there’s an electricity about a THATCamp that’s simply missing from most annual meetings, and I’ve had plenty of correspondence this year with people on program committees who want to know how to bring some unconference energy to their conference. Whether or not that’s possible is another question — in some ways I think that a conference and an unconference might be as mutually exclusive as they sound — but what I do think is entirely possible and indeed necessary is for scholars to open up, in more ways than one. To speak with people in other disciplines and other professions, to publish hastily and informally on the free web, to be smart while wearing shorts and flip-flops, to admit ignorance and ask for help, to crack jokes, to make friends and make things. THATCamp is helping with all of that.
Speaking of admitting ignorance, another terrific thing we’ve seen with THATCamps in 2010 has been the addition of the “BootCamp” workshops, which are helping in a small way to teach humanists and their ilk new digital skills. What’s pretty amazing about that is that all of those workshops have been free to attend, and almost all of them have been organized and taught by people who were paid little or nothing for doing so, for the simple purpose of sharing knowledge.
And that’s the fourth, last, and by far most awesome thing about all these THATCamps: the passionate volunteers who did all the work of putting them together (and it’s no small amount of work, let’s be clear about that). Ave, THATCamp organizers. Hail to you, blithe spirits. We salute you. Here is a LOLpuppy for you.