Archive for the ‘Digital Literacy’ Category

  • Exploring Hooks and Filters in Omeka and WordPress


    Omeka and WordPress (and plenty of other applications) have ways of adding or modifying existing data using things called hooks and filters. I’ve been developing projects with both of these applications for a while, and in my experience it’s often easier to write a simple function that uses one of these hooks or filters—instead of finding a plugin—to make some kind of modification to a project. These hooks and filters exist so you can make these kinds of changes without significantly altering the core of an application. Learning what each is about, and how you might use them to make some changes, can go a long way toward taking a project in a direction you want it to go, instead of accepting what the application gives you by default.

    I’d like to propose a session where we explore ways of using hooks and filters in each of these platforms. In the process, we could talk about ways of actually finding these hooks and filters, read the code to better understand how they work, and learn a bit of programming to make some changes to a site using each of these platforms. If you’d want to play along, you’d need access to change files in an Omeka and/or WordPress installation. (I won’t be able to provide this.) Otherwise, you could collaborate with someone in the room, or just watch, take notes, and ask questions to get information to take back to your project.


    Omeka Developer Documentation
    WordPress Plugin API 

  • Play / Make session: Listen to Wikipedia Guided Meditation


    Recently a student in the “Digital Past” class I’m teaching posted a link to our Diigo Group which she described as “not very informative” but “interesting.” Listen to Wikipedia be edited: There’s a map, too:

    I thought we could do a session where we take 10-15 minutes to just watch the site together, 10-15 minutes to interact with it (choose a different language, click on some of the links, visit the GitHub repo, whatever), and then use the remainder of the time to do some collaborative reflective writing on what we thought, saw, felt, learned. Participad would be a great tool for doing the collaborative writing part if you don’t mind my using my admin privileges to activate it on this site.

    Having had the site open in a tab for quite a while on a couple of separate days, I think it actually is very informative — about visualizations, about whatever the audio equivalent of visualizations is, about Wikipedia, about knowledge, about the world. I’m also generally interested in similar sorts of interactive art / games / projects built on functional internet tools: GlobeGenie and Twistori come to mind. We could have a discussion, of course, but for some reason I’m keen on the idea of a completely silent session …

  • Teaching Critical Thinking via Digital Projects


    Hello Campers – I’m proposing an informal “Talk” session on the intersection of the digital realm and teaching critical thinking. I’m interested in exploring teaching strategies with this aim in mind. I thought we might exchange stories from the classroom or workshop, brainstorm projects, and consider the complexities.

    In the THATCamp spirit, I’m anticipating the conversation as wide-open, workshop-format, and look forward to a diverse range of perspectives and experiences.

    Among my own lines of thought, I’m intrigued by the ways in which the digital realm may help to complicate the category of “critical thinking” itself, and esp. interested in new kinds of knowledge creation through digital projects (as well as more common invocations of critique itself.)

    A second, and closely related topic, might be that of audiences for this broader project. My immediate interest is in undergraduate pedagogy, but we might explore early graduate training, and also the ways in related projects might be extended beyond the university for collaborative projects with a broader community.

    p.s. One question that I found myself chewing on earlier this fall, inspired by the excellent “RailsGirls” event at GMU in Sept: what’s the relationship between teaching code and teaching critical thinking, especially to an undergrad audience in the humanities?


  • Data Dumping, Data Analyzing, Data Displaying


    Hello fellow ThatCampers, I am in the field of Religious Studies and a big portion of my work involves gathering lots of data from contemporary settings (such as sermons from Christian churches, archival data, interviews, etc.; Drupal seems like one program that is good for this), analyzing the data (looking at patterns of logic and hermeneutics) and then mapping this analysis visually (I’ve used prezi to do this before). I’d like to propose a session that would brainstorm the best program(s) and way(s) to do all of this digitally. I think that such a session should be interesting to anyone that gathers, analyzes and displays data, not just folks from Religious Studies, but perhaps Anthropology, Sociology, Geography, etc.

  • Exploring Altmetrics


    Altmetrics offer a new way to analyze the impact of scholarly research.  I would like to explore what altmetrics are exactly and how are the being used.  What tools can you use to track altmetrics?  We can look into tools like Altmetric, ImpactStory, and PlumAnalytics.  What are the risk and rewards of relying on altmetrics?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of altmetrics, in terms of timeliness, impact of non-publication research outputs, and gaming the system?  Will this change scholarly publishing in the future?  How might individual scholars and their departments use and respond to altmetrics?  I want to take this as an opportunity to learn and share about altmetrics and generate ideas for use and their impact.

    You can read the classic altmetrics manifesto here.

  • Bots



    Err, not those though. What I’d love to talk about is Twitter bots, and if someone’s willing to help out, to maybe hack away at one.

    Which is to say: I’d be thrilled to sit and swap favorite bots, and talk over their concepts and uses—diversion, cultural remix, pedagogical tool, pseudorandom art project (hi @horse_ebooks), anything. But I’d also be thrilled to learn from those who have actually implemented the things how to get started on making one, and possibly make one collectively during the session. (For instance, and to my great surprise, there doesn’t yet seem to be a THATCampBot.)

    My thoughts here are inspired by Mark Sample’s proposal for THATCamp Leadership ( as well as bots of his like @DependsUponBot, @JustToSayBot, and others like Zach Whalen’s @pelafina_lievre, and others beside. But anything we talk through or make doesn’t have to be complicated: some don’t even require hacking, just text, as Tully Hansen explains.

    But anyway: bots. I’m informed, by highly-placed and unimpeachable sources, that UVA’s Scholars Lab is “plagued” with them—let’s set to work spreading that plague.

    (photo credit: Crow T. Robot, This Is Your Life)


  • “Mapping Segregation: Racial patterns of residence, land ownership, and rentals in Rivanna Dist., Albemarle County”


    My current research project is aimed at locating the residence of 6500+ inhabitants listed in the 1940 census of Albemarle County.  This work will be presented at the Virginia Forum in March 2014 and I am hoping that discussions of mapping techniques and relevant historical issues at ThatCamp can guide me in completing a project that will have technical and historical merit.

    There will be a dot on the map for each person that will display their 1940 census record when clicked.  I plan to group residents into four classes: white land owners, black land owners, white renters, and black renters.  I want to represent this information with semi-transparent spatial density layers created from the dots for each grouping, which ought to allow the viewer to intuitively perceive the spatial relationship between each group and a base layer of land ownership by race.

    The geodatabase will contain all significant census data for each individual.  This will allow map users to explore the relationships betweThatCampMapen categories of census data and land ownership by way of Boolean queries.  For example, it might be interesting to look at the relationship between race, level of education, and acres owned.  The query results can be exported to a spreadsheet for analysis and will be displayed as selections on the map (see map image and use Firefox to view interactive map at ).  At this stage the goal of this project is not to answer questions about racial segregation in a rural setting, but to provide data and tools to begin to formulate interesting and relevant questions that may emerge from viewing data in a spatial context.

    From a broader historical perspective, I have been interested in the formation of rural African-American communities after the Civil War from the enslaved communities that existed on farms and plantations.  How did freedmen acquire land and what was the quality of the land they purchased?  When, how and where were black churches and schools established? These are the institutions that formalized the identities of rural African-American communities.  When and how were the names of these communities incorporated into land and tax records? — in essence, recognized as distinct entities by white county administrators.

    My guiding concept in this research is that segregation implies not only social, but physical separation.  Therefore, it seems that spatial mappings of race and residence must be a foundational tool for studying themes like the one proposed for the upcoming Virginia Forum, “the creation, maintenance, or transgression of racial boundaries.”

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