It’s long been the practice at THATCamp to use Google Docs to take notes on sessions; with Google Docs, everyone who’s in a particular session can contribute to the notes. Some really terrific documents and sets of notes have been produced this way — see for instance “Brainstorming a Digital Humanities Creator Stick” from THATCamp Piedmont or “Intro to Project Management and Planning” from THATCamp CHNM 2011.
Using Google Docs for this purpose, however, has one big drawback: finding the documents afterward. Usually note-takers will put the link to a set of notes on the THATCamp blog, but many people forget to do so. It’s also true that since these documents are owned by one particular person, the persistence and preservation of any one Google Doc depends on that person maintaining a Google account and keeping that document around, well, forever.
Therefore, as part of an ongoing redevelopment of thatcamp.org (look for a new site in late November), we asked Boone Gorges to see what he could do about developing a WordPress plugin that would enable the same kind of collaborative real-time editing as Google Docs and Piratepad while keeping the content within the THATCamp site. We also knew that this kind of functionality would be really useful for other people with other purposes.
Boone, as we knew he would (after all, he’s the creator of horse_thatbooks), has built a terrific tool for THATCamp: Participad. Try it out and download it at participad.org, or mess around with it on GitHub at github.com/boonebgorges/participad. You can read more about Participad on Boone’s blog, and I append the official CHNM announcement below.
Participad will be available on all THATCamp sites within one month. Can’t wait.
The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media is proud to announce the release of Participad, a WordPress plugin for real-time collaborative editing. Participad was developed for THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp) to help participants take notes on unconference sessions, but we anticipate that it will be broadly useful for anyone who wants to co-author a blog post. If one historian in Canada and another in Australia are watching a U.S. presidential debate, for example, they can use Participad to live-blog their reactions.
Participad runs on Etherpad Lite and is open source software released under the GNU General Public License. Participad was built by Boone Gorges, the lead developer for CUNY Academic Commons and Anthologize. You can try the demo and download Participad at participad.org.