ThatCamp Piedmont (March 22-23, 2013 @ UNC Charlotte)

Center City

Center City Building in Uptown Charlotte

We are excited to announce that THATCamp Piedmont will be hosted by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on March 22-23, 2013.

THATCamp stands for “The Humanities and Technology Camp.” It is an unconference: an open, free meeting where humanists and technologists of all skill levels learn and build together in sessions proposed on the spot.

Registration is FREE and runs through March 10, 2013. Register here! We welcome professors, students, technologists, librarian, and archivists of all levels who work in the humanities!

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Notes from Modeling Session

Following introductions, we used a brief discussion of what participants had done in the way of modeling as an entre to the topic of what models can contribute to various research endeavors in the humanities. It became clear that some research has empirical inputs and outputs and models can play a role in making accurate predictions and retrodictions. Other projects aim at achieving understanding, in which case models can help to identify the types of variables that are relevant. That is, models can aid in determining whether particular (or kinds of) outputs/behavior/events can be produced by particular (or kinds of ) inputs/variables/concepts. Iterative development also serves as a stimulus to revising one’s understanding of the model and the process being modeled.

Participants were interested in seeing some demonstrations, so Mike Gavin put up his model of 18th century book distribution and Jason Rines demonstrated his model of Kuhnian paradigm shift, specifically the change from a Ptolemaic to Copernican world view. Each of these stimulated questions about model construction and verification, particularly the concept of agents/agency and how quantitative values are selected for relevant variables.

These demos were given in NetLogo ( and we also spent time looking over its interface, coding structure, and output displays. Also we got some sense of the growing pool of resources and existing models available. Many of these exploit agent based models as a means of coping with complexity and emergent phenomena.

Overall, the consensus seemed to be that agent based modeling takes time and effort but can play a worthwhile role in one’s research endeavor. Start small and/or with an existing model to tweak and see where it leads.

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Notes from Gamification of Education Session

Gamification in Education – facilitated by Barry Peddycord from NCState

use points/badges, etc. as a gatekeeping mechanism to prevent students from moving on to material they are not ready for it

BLAP a course (Ian Bogost) see “the multiplayer classroom”

  • badges
  • leaderboards
  • achievements
  • points

Experience Points

  • students gain points through engaging in experience
  • there are many ways to earn points
  • various levels of points equate to A, B, C, etc.

Issues of Extrinsic Motivation, learning just about rewards

-but by giving choice, this is about agency in learning

-legal issues about leader board displaying points, possibly just show points or badges, not necessarily grades

  • put leader board online
  • by giving students choices, it lowers the anxiety around testing and forced items
  • create badges for various aspects of achievement (badge for most beautiful, most fun, most interactive, most functional)
  • (Sends students badges via email, which students can store in their digital backpack).
  • facilitates teamwork – award points to students who help teach their peers
  • if a student makes an A on the midterm, student can be excused from the final if they hold a study session once a week for their peers, or help generate videos that teach how to do something.

Paper: “Life is game – game is life” Win Burleson paper.

  • What about having mentors in CCI give badges to students.
  • deep gamification (the bead loom game)
  • Games teach you that failure is okay. but our single high-stakes examination doesn’t promote failing to learn.
  • Option: make each assignment pass/fail, but give students many chances to pass, before the course ends. – system for peer review of assignments

players in MUDs – killers, explorers, achievers,  (see paper: “Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: players who suit MUDS” by Richard Bartle)

  • link to paper:
  • killers like leader boards, like competition
  • achievers like badges/goals
  • explorers like to explore the space test the game to limits (hidden achievements are good)
  • socializers like to work with other people

Katie Salen at Pratt game designer (designs games for education) behind the Quest 2 Learn school in New York

To become a badge issuer:

  • provide an infrastructure to provide proof
  • create badges with pictures and metadata badges 1.0
  • badge could be added to portfolio
  • Duke is considering a university wide badge system
  • MOOCs (Udacity) are considering issuing badges

Barry Peddycord is building a badge issue server for authentication of badges. It will be released open source.  see:

Educational games offer a nice alternative to videos in flipped classes

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“Carpentry” as a Way of Knowing

First of all, I should explain what I mean by “carpentry” in this context. I’m borrowing the idea from Ian Bogost, who describes carpentry as the practice of making philosophical and scholarly inquiries by constructing artifacts rather than writing words. Instead of writing an essay about Thoreau’s Walden, why not make an argument by building a replica of Thoreau’s cabin? Instead of studying primary source documents that describe 19th century stage magic, why not use a 3D printer to fabricate working models of century-old illusions? In Alien Phenomenology, Or, What It’s Like to Be a Thing, Bogost describes carpentry as “making things that explain how things make their world” (93). Bogost goes on to highlight several computer programs he’s built in order to think like things—such as I am TIA, which renders the Atari VCS’s “view” of its own screen. Similarly, there’s Bogost’s Latour Litanizer, which generates lists of random objects.

I’m not entirely enamored of the term “carpentry.” “Crafting” might work. Or simply “making.” In any case, I’m interested in a session that explores how creating small digital objects can be a mode of humanistic inquiry. I’m thinking of, for example, Darius Kazemi’s Metaphor-a-Minute, which is a Twitter bot (a small program that autonomously posts random or algorithmically-generated tweets on Twitter). As Darius relates, at one point this totally randomized bot generated a homophobic metaphor, causing Darius to revamp the algorithm—and to reconsider questions of rhetoric, intention, and audience along the way.

These digital objects are not terribly difficult to build. I have only a little programming experience, but since many developers share their code publicly, I’ve been able to borrow and adapt existing code to make my own “carpentry” projects. WhitmanFML is a good example. This bot—whose code I adopted from Darius’s LatourSwag project—combines sentences from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass with tweets from strangers tagged #FML. This usually creates a humorous juxtaposition (and another). But because of the 19th century language of Whitman, it can also create tweets that border on—or even cross into—racism. So what can this little carpentry project of mine teach us? About ourselves? The 19th century? Social media? Bots? And so on. And how can we use similar digital projects and fabrications in our classrooms and in our research?

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Friday workshops game plan

Workshops will start Friday at 9 am and the full schedule is available here.

There’s no formal kick-off in the morning but workshoppers will be invited to head to lunch together at the break.  Workshoppers will also be invited to head out in the evening for dinner and to one of the two (free) art receptions that are within close proximity of Center City:

For coffee, etc. on Friday morning, the Center City Building has an Einstein’s Bagels on the ground floor.

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Methodological relevance of modeling/simulation in the humanities

Questions to be explored concern the use of simulations (specifically, agent-based models) within the humanities.  To what degree, and to what questions, are agent-based models relevant?  What purposes do the models serve?  Discussions can range over particular modeling environments (e.g, NetLogo), existing or potential applications, how to construct a model in NetLogo, and perhaps include a demonstration of a NetLogo model.  The connection of modeling to complexity theory and emergence is also an obvious topic.  These discussions will be facilitated by representatives of English (Michael Gavin), Computing (Ted Carmichael, Mirsad Hadzikadic) and Philosophy (Jason Rines, Marvin Croy).

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Overview of THATCamp Piedmont 2013 Campers


THATCamp Piedmont 2013 campers come from 13 different colleges/universities.  Many have multiple roles in their institutions.  About 50% are faculty, 35% are librarians/technologists, 15% are graduate students.  About 20% have technology as one of their primarily disciplines. About 30% teach or study English, History or Communication Studies, 20% teach or study Anthropology, Philosophy or Computer Science.  Others are in Social Sciences, Art, Architecture, Literature and Religious Studies.  10 participants have been to another THATCamp.  Continue reading

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Friday workshops: BYOD

BYOD for all Hacking & Pedagogy Sessions

BYOD for all Hacking & Pedagogy Sessions

A quick word that the Hacking sessions (Hacking Omeka, Hacking WordPress, and Concordances) and the Pedagogy sessions (Screencast, Digital Storytelling, and Peer Collaboration) are in old-fashioned smart classrooms without computers (but – with wifi!).

We have some laptops to check out for the workshops.  If you’d like to borrow a workshop for one of the Friday workshops, please complete this little form:

The intro sessions (Intro to Omeka, Intro to WordPress, and Zotero) are in a computer classroom with enough hardware for all registered participants.

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Getting THAT in the classroom!

So, I’m a complete novice to most of this and so the idea of ME leading a teach/talk/play/make session on any of these THAT technologies is more than silly. It’s possibly dangerous, so please wear a helmet.  I don’t even twit and I probably won’t start.

I’m a history professor and I’m interested in many of these technologies — for both my own research, my own scholarly communication, and my teaching.  I think that for now, what I would like to do is to figure out how to create a web-based collaborative or “group assignment” for my history undergraduate courses.  Many undergraduate students are interacting with information on the web, but they don’t analyze it nor do they know how to evaluate it.  Case in point: I have a lot of students who use sources from the web indiscriminately.

I’d like to start with figuring out how to have my class work on a website where we could publish the information that they gather over the course of the semester.  In Fall 2013, I am teaching a “sophomore seminar skills course” on the history of disease and medicine. In HIST 2600 “Great Plagues in History: Epidemics from the Black Death to AIDS” my students will read a variety of historical studies about the social, medical, political and economic impact of epidemic disease. Along with the regular research paper assignments, source analyses, and presentations, I would like to have my students do a group project in which they gather evidence about the 1918 Influenza epidemic in Charlotte. We will then publish our results on the web. This could include information about municipal public health policies, images of the sick, first person accounts, letters to the editor, an epidemiological map of flu in the city, information about local mass graves, the flu in Camp Greene, etc.  I’ve been wondering if the prospect of digitally publishing their work might help my students to take their assignments more seriously and to get more excited about an aspect of history which I already find fascinating. But I also hope it will help them to understand that *anyone* can put information up on the web–including themselves once we do it in class — and that thus it is important to be more thoughtful about how they interact with the web during the rest of their college career.

But who knows, I have no idea what I’m doing and can barely spell Omeka, let alone use it.  If you are someone who is a novice like me who would like to strategize about how to use these tools in the undergraduate classroom, please join my group.  Bring an idea for a class digital project that you might want to develop and we’ll sink or swim together.  Bring beer and we’ll really have fun!

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Collaborating Around Video Artifacts over the Web

Hi! My name is Celine Latulipe and I’m a computer scientist at UNC Charlotte, specializing in Human-Computer Interaction. My PhD student, Vikash Singh, has created a web-based collaboration tool centered around the use of video artifacts, called the Video Collaboratory. You know how you can collaborate and communicate around a text-based document by commenting and using track changes? Have you ever wondered why you can’t do anything at that level of granularity with video? Our tool was designed for  choreographers and dancers to communicate around rehearsal videos, and it is also being used in education as a tool for students to watch lecture videos in small groups and do peer critiquing of video-based assignments. There appear to be many other possible uses. How might you use it?

If your work involves the study, analysis or archiving of video material, and if you constantly think “I wish my collaborator X could see this particular part of this video and give me her interpretation of it”, you may find that our tool could be really useful. At this point, we are interested in understanding the potential uses of the tool, and we are really excited to hear from humanities researchers interested in collaborating around video.

We propose a Video Collaboratory play session, in which we will introduce you to the tool, give you an account, and let you play with videos in the tool and upload your own so that we can explore possibilities for using the tool in humanities research.

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Making Programming Easy with SNAP

Hello, world! My name’s Barry, and I’m a Computer Science Ph.D. student from NC State. One of the many jobs I have is working with the STARS group at my University and helping out with a program called “AP Computer Science Principles” – an initiative to develop a high-school course to better prepare students for Computer Science courses in college. In this course, rather than using a “real language” like Java or Python, we use a visual programming language called “Scratch”.

SNAP” is a web-based version of Scratch that further lowers the barrier for getting students to start playing around with programming. While Scratch and SNAP may look like toys, all of the functionality they provide has one-to-one correspondence with any other programming language.

In this session, I’ll introduce SNAP and teach folks a bit about programming. No programming knowledge is required to participate. Participants will then be encouraged to explore SNAP on their own and report back with whatever they were able to create. Afterwards, we can keep exploring SNAP, or talk about computing in K-12, or whatever you want.

While SNAP does work on mobile devices, it has limited functionality – so it’s preferred that you have access to a laptop for this session.

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