April 5, 2011 - 10:12 What Confs Fail, Camps Achieve

Badia Fiesolana Fresco, European University Institute, Florence, Italy

There was this good intuition about attending an unconference. And it did not prove wrong. The world is full of conventional events, discussions and relationships. Especially on the European ground. The term unconference sounded ground breaking enough and what caught me more by surprise was that it came from the humanities side. But, when I digged a bit on the history of the unconference type of events I found out that it came from the geek community. I shouldn’t be surprised here. That is how technology and information science thrive, facilitate our lives and works and thus get funded.

THATCampFlorence continued the short tradition of the American born THATCamp co-organized by the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University. Zotero and Omeka, two of the most known tools in the humanities, were also created there by an amalgam of people constituing the next generation humanists, –cause ‘digital’ is given.

Hence, I will try to justify the enthusiasm. I am indeed glad and twice as much to have taken part to a gathering of the like since Humanities are considered to be one of the most conservative domains in terms of interaction and communication. And yet THATCamp initiative took birth therein. It seems that it is about a group of people working in orthological, practical and cooperative spirit. This spirit that enables interaction and dialogue being magnified and reproduced by each one of the THATCamp unconferences spreading as we speak around the world.

Unlike any other European conference, much more so a Greek one, you’ve got that liberating feeling of not having to adhere to the presentation rules and actually have a human voice, speak out real questions that torture you and highly likely get some answers. On the contrary, if you find yourself as a speaker in any other conference of a humanities domain in Europe (I suppose that still happens in the States too) you should have to prepare your talk many months ahead and get five minutes to answer to questions about it after your presentation is over. The rest of the attendees are left to their own devices. Thus the event ends up an announcement and a watching event especially for the majority of scholars and often enough aridly competitive.

What I know I felt attending THATCampFirenze was part of a group and a self-sustained unit at the same time. The BootCamp sessions -educational and informative as it meant to be- were the introduction to a series of discussions and dare say the inspiration. What I liked most and I believe is in the heart of every THATCamp session/atelier is that anyone can suggest a subject of discussion, everybody votes on preferences and the outcome is a schedule of conversations made up in less than an hour by the coordinators.

The experience of joining a discussion group like that is another unique experience by itself. You may know or may not know what are you going to say, or who are you going to meet. You just focus on the subject and the creative talk flow. Your mind gets alerted and you may even start thinking in a way you hadn’t have thought before. However, its you, with your knowledge and ignorance and the rest of the participants forming the chemistry of the discussion, developing interaction. It is clearly about a “give and take” action in its purest manifestations –not leaving out cases where there are strategies and policies behind the placing of a discussion topic. But these strategies co-exist with sparkles of new ideas and the expressiveness of questions on how digital research can be done or even the statement of requirements on how it could be done.

I am pretty sure that these lively conversations are the only way to reach out to more and more scholars and achieve faster and effective the digital humanities research integration. Especially now that more and more humanists realize the value of communicating knowledge and research and inspire its exploitation from other domains, thus empowering the joint and make them directly useful to the society and economy.

I know there are some very dynamic digital humanists groups in Europe that come and work together on a project basis. I also know there are some greater scale European projects where the most competent bright people participate working to build the researchers’ e-infrastructures. But the gap between these people (academic and technologists) and the scholars is still very big and it will stay for long if ‘discussions’ about digital research remain within the conventional conferences world.

That is why I want to thank the initiators of the THATCamp unconference idea for introducing vitality.

While looking around to see how other THATCamp attendants perceived the same experience I stumbled upon a blog post that became my favorite one and truly pictures the sense of attending. Roger Whitson has a unique way of expressing that.

THATCamp Ateliers I Attended:
To give you an overview of the discussion topics

Text mining
Time and Named Entities
Visualization of large humanities datasets

Let me guess what you’re thinking. “You should have been there!”. Please don’t hesitate to comment or contact me. Some of the places you may find pieces of me are @kouriati and www.astroboa.org

Katerina Kouriati

March 30, 2011 - 13:44 A la recherche d’un business model pour les Digital Humanities ?

“Fait-il laisser les infrastructures des Digital Humanities au compagnies privées ? Comment trouver un modèle économique viable pour l’édition en Open Access ? C’était le thème d’une session de THATCamp Florence proposée par Marin Dacos, […]”. Voir la suite dans le Blog de Enrico Natale sur Infoclio.ch

March 29, 2011 - 15:06 Podcasting as Resource

PDF Slides of Enrica Salvatori’s (CISIAU, University of Pisa) bootcamp lesson: PodcastHistoryTHATCamp

March 29, 2011 - 12:50 THATcamp Florence ended, Vive THATcamp DH Manifesto !

Digital Humanities Manifesto

THATCamp Florence lasted three and a half days and made it possible for more than 160 registered campers, 40 teachers and tutors, and another 30-40 participants to attend single lectures and workshops in the Bootcamp and participate in 21 discussions and ateliers during THATcamp.

The programme was heavy and many Digital Humanities issues were dealt with during these days. Within DH, the sub-discipline of Digital History was investigated from more and different viewpoints than ever before.

What everybody underlined is the fact that THATcamp Florence allowed so many continental European participants to meet each other, to show their skills, to discover projects and to focus on their digital training needs.

The Florentine Camp ended Saturday 26th of March by looking at the Digital Humanities Manifesto created during THATcamp Paris in May 2010 and now translated into many languages (German, Arabic; Italian; Spanish; English; Greek, Portuguese; Serbian). Italian Digital Humanists founded their own National Association (Associazione Informatica Umanistica e Cultura Digitale) the day before, on the 25th of March 2011, and they approved the open content of the Manifesto, which was designed to bring people together and not to reproduce divisions between disciplines and academic lobbies. It was argued that such a manifesto could have been even more strongly worded on this topic.

Florentine Campers have now a case for a “European Manifesto for the Digital Humanities”.  Meeting again in Europe why not at the European University Institute (thanks to the History and Civilisation Department) and maybe once a year, we will decide how to proceed towards the creation of a wider European community of Digital Humanists and, maybe, a European Digital Humanist Association.

So thank you all again for having given to THATCamp Florence your own energy and having shared in the “open access” think-tank way used by the camp your own individual and disciplinary knowledge with each other.

THATCamp Florence est terminé, vive THATCamp DH Manifesto !

Serge Noiret

March 26, 2011 - 08:46 Pictures of THATcamp 24-25th of March

Thatcamp Florence March 2011

Looking at activities during THATcamp Florence, private, public etc..

March 25, 2011 - 18:19 Please evaluate THATCamp Florence

We would appreciate it if you would take a few moments to fill out our survey, to tell us what you thought of THATCamp Florence and whether it was useful to you. This will help us know how to improve. Thank you!

The link is correct now. –AF

Evaluate THATCamp

March 25, 2011 - 16:43 Mapping – what, how, where


  • Geocoding partial addresses or more importantly, non-existing or destroyed buildings/addresses.
  • Choosing a mapping approach: scientifically accurate or obviously vague
  • Choosing a display style: point data or area based (area based emplies manually drawing/plotting the points)
  • Understanding the content you have and the needs of the users


Best tool to plot data and especially other peoples data: www.geocommons.org

Free geocoding service (uni): webgis.usc.edu/

Wikipedia project:
(Work in Progress): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:WikiProject_Geographical_coordinates






(Draw regions and export to XML using scribblemaps)

Factual (t.co/9IQE5XY) offers datasets accessible through an API or can be downloaded. Any data relevant to humanities?

StreetMuseum project (very interesting youtube demo of an iphone app)

March 25, 2011 - 15:51 Notes from Finding Primary Sources

THATCamp Florence 2011 – Finding & filtering primary sources

See the Google doc here, anyone can add comments!

This session discusses the various ways in which humanities scholars can locate primary sources on the internet. The goal of the session will be to collect ideas and search strategies and, ideally, to create a basic HOW TO guide.

We could also discuss differences between using physical and online primary sources and the caveats of using e-sources.


  • search strategies: is there a basic systematic way of finding online sources or does it depend on topics (or both)?
  • types of online resources
  • tools
  • useful information: manuals, articles, etc.
  • differences between using physical and online primary sources

Search strategies

‘Normal’ search engines:

Searching the deep web: OAI-MHP compliant search engines:

(Open Archives Initiative –  Metadata Harvesting Protocol)

Custom search engines:

Create a search engine with websites that are relevant to your own research:

Useful online resources



European portals:

Paid websites/ subscription resources:
(and how to find them?) 


Useful articles/manuals

Using e-sources

  • querying e-sources:
  • metadata determine what you can find
  • keyword versus full-text search (think for example languages that cannot be OCR’ed yet).
  • context; example Historical Jewish Press, see also this advanced search. Physical sources: from general to specific. Many digital sources (especially full text): start with specific. Where does awareness of context go?
  • infinite archives/libraries: awareness of selection!

March 25, 2011 - 13:07 Pictures from THATCamp Florence!

Enrico Natale of infoclio.ch, a portal for historical sciences in Switzerland, has posted some pictures from THATCamp Florence on Picasa. All the pictures from Day 1 can be seen at picasaweb.google.com/infoclio.ch/THATCampFlorenceDay1#, and the pictures from Day 2 can be seen at picasaweb.google.com/infoclio.ch/THATCampFlorenceDay2#. Below is a picture from Day 1 from the session “What are cyber-infrastructures in the Digital Humanities? France and other countries as case-studies,” led by Pierre Mounier of the Centre pour l’édition électronique ouverte (CLEO); and a picture from Day 2 of the organizational meeting, during which participants proposed sessions which were assigned to the programme. Grazie et merci to Enrico for these pictures!

Cyber-Infrastructures in France

THATCamp Florence organizing meeting

March 25, 2011 - 11:43 Notes from Text Mining Session

Three types of text mining

1) Recommendation mining
2) Clustering
3) Classification


List of Data Mining Research Tools




Algorithms of the Intelligent Web

Google Prediction API

Lexico3 (for concordances)

Digging into Data

National Text Mining Centre

Here are the notes from the text mining session as a Google Doc — anyone can edit it:


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