These are just a few of the many possible questions that could get explored as a motley crew of humanists, technologists, librarians, archivists, programmers—and anyone with an interest in humanities and/or technology—gathers in the Danforth University Center (DUC) on Saturday, Nov. 9, for THATCampSTL, St. Louis's first-ever rendition of The Humanities and Technology Camp.
Described as an "unconference," the open event draws its inspiration and general format from previous THATCamps aimed at attracting interested people with differing and overlapping perspectives and skill sets to a flexible, in-depth day of conversation, brainstorming, and networking. In contrast to more traditional academic conference models, THATCamps are comprised of short sessions proposed on the spot and decided on democratically among the participants.
"The idea of an 'unconference' was that sometimes when one goes to a conference, the best part of it turns out to be a serendipitous hallway conversation," says Douglas Knox, assistant director of the Humanities Digital Workshop on campus. "Could we bring people together to try to acknowledge the value of that serendipity? The best THATCamp sessions in my experience have been the ones where people have found a way to share something that they are passionate about, or have stretched themselves beyond their areas of greatest familiarity."
Already, more than 60 registrants have signed up, notes organizer Jaleh Fazelian, Washington University's Islamic Studies and South Asian Studies librarian. That includes many individuals from local universities as well as smaller archives and institutions in the region, plus a handful traveling long distance to attend. It's an affordable, unique opportunity to meet with others exploring the intersection of technology and the humanities.
"There are many things technologists do that I, as a humanist, do not understand," Fazelian says. "Getting together, talking through ideas, and working towards finding solutions only makes all of us stronger and more knowledgeable. We are often in our own little worlds doing our work and unaware of what others are working on locally that might be beneficial."
Knox adds that the day-long gathering may include discussion of personal side projects and exploratory experiments as well as more formal or institutional efforts, helping spark new ideas and possibilities among like-minded people.
"Technology has already long been part of the humanities in one way or another," he says. "If people are to use technology consciously and well, conversations across disciplines, institutions, and professions—and drawing on varied experiences and interests—are essential."
For more information and to register, see http://stl2013.thatcamp.org/.