a digital art history unconference in association with the College Art Association 2014

Monday February 10 (11.45am – 5.15pm) and Tuesday, February 11 (9.30am – 5pm), the days immediately preceding the CAA annual conference, and a follow up “reflection” session on Thursday February 13th (9.30am – noon). Participants should ideally be able to attend both sessions.

The first sessions (2/10 & 11) will be held at Columbia College Chicago at 1104 South Wabash Ave., within walking distance from the main conference hotel. The second session (2/13) will be held at the conference hotel in the Marquette Room (3rd Floor of the Hilton Chicago). See the Directions page for a map.

Who Should Attend
THATCamp CAA is open to scholars and graduate students with an active interest in digital art history. Approximately sixty participants will be accepted on a first-come-first-served basis. Space is limited. Only those who can commit to attending both days should register.

THATCamp CAA is free to attend. Registration is open!

Why an Art History THATCamp?

  • To increase awareness of existing digital projects in the disciplines of art history, architectural history, and archaeology for both scholarship and education
  • To create a community of scholars interested in exploring the benefits of digital art history and facilitate collaborative opportunities
  • To increase awareness of the valuable digital scholarly and educational work being done in allied disciplines
  • To identify digital tools and strategies that can improve annual CAA conference processes and formats to be utilized by the CAA Taskforce in planning future conferences
  • To provide hands-on training in relevant digital tools in concurrent workshop sessions
  • To raise awareness of non-traditional career paths for art history professionals

What is a THATCamp?

THATCamp stands for “The Humanities and Technology Camp.” It is an unconference: an open, inexpensive meeting where humanists and technologists of all skill levels learn and build together in sessions proposed on the spot. An unconference is to a conference what a seminar is to a lecture, what a party at your house is to a church wedding, what a pick-up game of Ultimate Frisbee is to an NBA game, what a jam band is to a symphony orchestra: it’s more informal and more participatory. Here are the key characteristics of a THATCamp:

  • It’s collaborative: there are no spectators at a THATCamp. Everyone participates, including in the task of setting an agenda or program.
  • It’s informal: there are no lengthy proposals, papers, presentations, or product demos. The emphasis is on productive, collegial work or free-form discussion.
  • It’s spontaneous and timely, with the agenda / schedule / program being mostly or entirely created by all the participants.
  • It’s productive: participants are encouraged to use session time to create, build, write, hack, and solve problems.
  • It’s lightweight and inexpensive to organize: we generally estimate that a THATCamp takes about 100 hours over the course of six months and about $4000.
  • It’s not-for-profit and either free or inexpensive (under $30) to attend: it’s funded by small sponsorships, donations of space and labor, and by passing the hat around to the participants.
  • It’s small, having anywhere from 25 or 50 to about 150 participants: most THATCamps aim for about 75 participants.
  • It’s non-hierarchical and non-disciplinary and inter-professional: THATCamps welcome graduate students, scholars, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, developers and programmers, K-12 teachers, administrators, managers, and funders as well as people from the non-profit sector, people from the for-profit sector, and interested amateurs. The topic “the humanities and technology” contains multitudes.
  • It’s open and online: participants make sure to share their notes, documents, pictures, and other materials from THATCamp discussions before and after the event on the web and via social media.
  • It’s fun, intellectually engaging, and a little exhausting.

What is an “unconference”?

The shortest answer is this: an unconference is a highly informal conference. Two differences are particularly notable. First, at an unconference, the program isn’t set beforehand: it’s created on the first day with the help of all the participants rather than beforehand by a program committee. Second, at an unconference, there are no presentations — all participants in an unconference are expected to talk and work with fellow participants in every session. An unconference is to a conference what a seminar is to a lecture; going to an unconference is like being a member of an improv troupe where going to a conference is (mostly) like being a member of an audience. Unconferences are also free or cheap and open to all. For more information, see Wikipedia’s entry on the unconference.

Some say that the first unconference was BarCamp, which is the model for THATCamp. Read more about BarCamp at barcamp.orgradar.oreilly.com/2005/08/bar-camp.html, and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BarCamp.

What is Digital Art History?
Scholarship and education in the disciplines of art history, architectural history, and archaeology supported by digital technologies



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