Propose a session

Session proposal

In brief

Everyone who goes to a THATCamp proposes a session. Do not prepare a paper or presentation. Plan instead to have a conversation, to get some work done, or to have fun.

How do I propose a session?

Once you register for your THATCamp and are approved, you will receive a user account on the THATCamp website. You should receive your login information by email. Before the THATCamp, you should log in to the THATCamp site, click on Posts –> Add New, then write and publish your session proposal. Your session proposal will appear on the front page of this site, and we’ll all be able to read and comment on it beforehand. (If you haven’t worked with WordPress before, see codex.wordpress.org/Writing_Posts for help.) The morning of the event, all THATCamp participants will vote on those proposals (and probably come up with several new ones), and then all together will work out how best to put those sessions into a schedule.

Remember that you will be expected to facilitate the sessions you propose, so that if you propose a hacking session, you should have the germ of a project to work on; if you propose a workshop, you should be prepared to teach it or find a teacher; if you propose a discussion of the Digital Public Library of America, you should be prepared to summarize what that is, begin the discussion, keep the discussion going, and end the discussion.

When do I propose a session?

You can propose a session as early as you like, but most people publish their session proposals to the THATCamp site during the week before the THATCamp begins. It’s a good idea to check the THATCamp site frequently in the week beforehand to see and comment on everyone’s session proposals. You can also come up with a last-minute idea and propose it to the THATCamp participants during the scheduling session, which is the first session of the THATCamp.

Why are sessions proposed this way?

Proposing sessions just before a THATCamp and building a schedule during the first session of a THATCamp ensures that sessions are honest and informal, that session topics are current, and that unconference participants will collaborate on a shared task. An unconference, in Tom Scheinfeldt’s words, is fun, productive, and collegial, and at THATCamp, therefore, “[W]e’re not here to listen and be listened to. We’re here to work, to participate actively.[...] We’re here to get stuff done.” Listen further:

Everyone should feel equally free to participate and everyone should let everyone else feel equally free to participate. You are not students and professors, management and staff here at THATCamp. At most conferences, the game we play is one in which I, the speaker, try desperately to prove to you how smart I am, and you, the audience member, tries desperately in the question and answer period to show how stupid I am by comparison. Not here. At THATCamp we’re here to be supportive of one another as we all struggle with the challenges and opportunities of incorporating technology in our work, departments, disciplines, and humanist missions.

See the About page for more information on the philosophy of unconferences.

What do I propose?

There are roughly four things people do in THATCamp sessions: Talk, Make, Teach, and Play. Sometimes one session contains elements of all these, but it’s also a fair taxonomy for THATCamp sessions.

  • In a Talk session proposal, you offer to lead a group discussion on a topic or question of interest to you.
  • In a Make session proposal, you offer to lead a small group in a hands-on collaborative working session with the aim of producing a draft document or piece of software.
  • In a Teach session, you offer to teach a skill, either a “hard” skill or a “soft” skill.
  • In a Play session, anything goes — you suggest literally playing a game, or you suggest some quality group playtime with one or more technologies, or what you will.

Talk session examples

Make session examples

Teach session examples

Play session examples

RCHN Mellon Mellon