THATCamp Alabama 2015 Just another THATCamp site Fri, 04 Sep 2015 20:07:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Glossary of DH Terms Fri, 04 Sep 2015 15:08:25 +0000

Glossary of Digital Humanities Terms, Building a Digital Portfolio (for Art History graduate students), George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, July 2015. Supported by the Getty Foundation & organized by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University. 

a11y: abbreviation for computer accessibility for all people regardless of disability. See

algorithm: “A rigid, logical argument made in regularized terms.” Lisa Rhody

API (Application Program Interface): provides the link between two systems, allowing them to communicate. On the internet, an API allows you to access a web service with another program or software. For instance, a program you write on your computer might ask a museum database for results that match a certain criteria.

API Key: when using an API, you need a unique key for access. Usually provided by the API creator when you sign up for the service.

Backchannel: a secondary conversation, often taking place on Twitter using a hashtag, where people share relevant links and clarify terms.

Backend: administrative side where you can make technical and content changes that is not public-facing, aka “control panel” or “dashboard”

Borked: broken (for the moment)

CamelCase: Writing a word without spaces but with the first letter of each word capitalized. For example: CamelCase, MarySue, PowerPoint, VistaVision, HyperCard.

CMS (Content Management System): a computer program (e.g., Drupal Gardens) that allows publishing, editing and modifying content as well as maintenance from a central interface. Such systems of content management provide procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment. CMSs have been available since the late 1990s. CMSs are often used to run websites containing blogs, news, and shopping. CMSs typically aim to avoid the need for hand coding but may support it for specific elements or entire pages. (from Wikipedia: )

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): a markup language (code) to describe the “look and formatting” of a document or webpage. (from: See also

CSV (Comma Separated Values): aka character separated values. A file with a series of records made up of fields, where each field is separated by a comma or other specific character (; | / ). Easily created via a spreadsheet program like Excel, GoogleDocs, Numbers. A good way to move information between databases/platforms. See:

DAMS (Digital Asset Management Systems): computer software and hardware for “downloading, renaming, backing up, rating, grouping, archiving, optimizing, maintaining, thinning, and exporting files.” (

Distant Reading: from Franco Moretti, looking for trends over large corpora of works

doi (digital object identifier): a managed, persistent, trackable link to an online publication. www.doi.orgDublin Core: an internationally recognized metadata standard for describing any conceivable resource, comprised of 15 elements, including “title,” “description,” “date,” and “format.” (definition adapted from

Field: “Any one of a number of places where a user is expected to enter a single item of a particular type of data; an item of such data; esp. one in a database record.” OED definition 19.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) Client: This is a program that lets a user transfer computer files from one host — such as your local computer,  to a web-based server so that it can be available or viewed on the Web.

SFTP: Secure File Transfer Protocol

GIS (Geographic Information Systems): a computer system (or web-based system) designed to “capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present”1 information about geographic data. Although GIS can be used to create maps, they are also capable of creating different forms of representation.

Github: is a place for sharing opensource code, and any other kinds of files that someone else can grab.

GLAM: acronym for Galleries Libraries Archives Museums.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language): “the standard markup language used to create webpages” ( Markup in this case means formatting things like links, emphasis (bold, italics), and header. See also

KML (Keyhole Markup Language)/KMZ file: XML based file format used to display geographic data. Google KML documentation:

LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Python): linux is the operating system, apache is the webserver, mysql is the database, PHP/Python is the scripting language. Wikipedia 

LMS (Learning Management System): is a program that facilitates course management, content and administration. Example: Blackboard

Metadata: data about data, or descriptive information about a thing. Metadata is what you read in library catalog records or museum collections management systems. Wikipedia has a list of available metadata systems. Getty provides a glossary for metadata.

NLP (Natural Language Processing): enables computers to parse information from “human language” (prose). See

OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative Protocal for Metadata Harvesting): “is a low-barrier mechanism for repository interoperability. Data Providers are repositories that expose structured metadata via OAI-PMH. Service Providers then make OAI-PMH service requests to harvest that metadata. OAI-PMH is a set of six verbs or services that are invoked within HTTP.”

OCR (Optical Character Recognition): conversion of images (photographs, scans) to machine/computer readable text.

Omeka: open source content management system (see above) which uses an item (object/image/document) as the primary piece (as opposed to WordPress, which uses the post.

programming languages: used to write the programs, functions, and algorithms that provide the background functionality of websites and software. For example, Python, R, Ruby, C++, and many, many more.

public history: “public history describes the many and diverse ways in which history is put to work in the world.  In this sense, it is history that is applied to real-world issues. In fact, applied history was a term used synonymously and interchangeably with public history for a number of years.  Although public history has gained ascendance in recent years as the preferred nomenclature especially in the academic world, applied history probably remains the more intuitive and self-defining term.”

RDF (Resource Description Framework): originally built as a metadata model, RDF is machine-readable and often used with web resources

Responsive: “a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors)”

slug: (in omeka) the last part of the url for a page (exhibit page, simple page, blog post). So in the slug is operasinger.

smoothing: from Wikipedia, “attempts to capture important patterns in the data, while leaving out noise or other fine-scale structures/rapid phenomena.”

SQL (Structured Query Language): most widely used programming language for relational databases. For instance, when you create a WordPress post, the content is stored in a database, which is created and accessed using SQL. (from Wikipedia:

Structured Data: Data that follows a system of organization that makes it easier for the computer to manipulate it. example: XML files, databases.

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic): xml based vector image. These can be edited in some image editing programs, like Adobe Illustrator, and then exported for use on the web.

TMS (The Museum System): a collection management system for creating and managing metadata offered by GallerySystems

Unstructured Data: Free-form files with information that needs to be discovered and organized to be usable. example: PDF, webpages, .doc files.

XML (EXtensible Markup Language): A file format to describe, transport, and store data/information. W3schools on the difference between XML and HTML:

Vaporware: hardware or software which is proposed, announced, and never actually exists.

Web hosting service: there are numerous ways to publish content to the internet. Most of the websites you visit or create will use one the following types:

  • Free web hosting service: offered by different companies with limited services, sometimes supported by advertisements, and often limited when compared to paid hosting. For example, offers free blogs with limited capabilities.
  • Managed hosting service: the user gets his or her own Web server but is not allowed full control over it; however, they are allowed to manage their data via FTP or other remote management tools. For example, bluehost offers server space where users can install their own management systems and publish content.

The difference is important: free WordPress blogs are limited, but easy to use. Access to your own server space is flexible and capable, but requires payment and more skill to manage.

WYSIWYG: “What You See Is What You Get” editors provide a toolbar at the top of the text box that allows you to change the formatting of the content. They provide an alternative to tag- and code-based formatting.

Welcome to THATCamp Alabama! Fri, 04 Sep 2015 08:00:44 +0000

Safe travels to everyone as you make your way to THATCamp Alabama!

Here are a few reminders:

You can view the schedule on Google Docs. If you take notes during sessions, upload them to the Google Drive folder to share with others.

– Stay tuned to our website and @THATCampAL on Twitter for updates throughout today and tomorrow.

– If you’re tweeting, add #thatcampal as a hashtag. We’ll Storify tweets and post them online.

– Registration opens at 10:00 a.m. today, and the opening session begins at 11:00 a.m. in the Caroline Marshall Draughon Presentation Room, Ground Floor, Ralph Brown Draughon Library. We’ll also have registration and breakfast there tomorrow.

– Visitor parking is on the fourth floor of the Stadium Parking Deck.

See you soon!

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Fieldwork and the Digital Archive Fri, 04 Sep 2015 02:09:49 +0000

Archives and Special Collections are becoming increasingly available to researchers everywhere as university libraries, museums, and enthusiasts digitize their holdings. As a result, a good amount of archival research now takes place on laptops rather than at the source of the material. For many undergraduates, research only takes place online, as in, it often doesn’t even occur to them to search their library’s catalog for actual books, let alone consider non-traditional sources such as images, oral tradition, and cultural artifacts as texts. Being out of touch with the tangible does lessen somewhat the thrill that hands-on research can bring, just as a good book just isn’t as enjoyable if you’re reading it from a pdf you found online so as to avoid buying the book for class. Looking forward to the next generation of students–who will be even more connected–how can we most effectively teach and use the vastness that is the digital archive while also stressing/remembering the value of immersive learning?

– Lydia Ferguson


Tech in Tajikistan Thu, 03 Sep 2015 21:06:49 +0000

The challenges and opportunities when working with a group of students in an international library via email, live Skype sessions, and WordPress blogging.

The State Department encourages partnerships with developing nations via their Virtual Student Foreign Service internship program. This past year I had the opportunity to work with the American Corner Library in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. In Tajikistan, the infrastructure is poor – even in a US State Department-funded library – what other tools could help facilitate more robust discussions of issues of interest such as culture, education, and religion?

– Jennifer Pate


Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools for the DH Practitioner Thu, 03 Sep 2015 19:55:56 +0000

Scholarship is becoming increasingly digital and online, but inaccessible websites and digital content limit access for users with disabilities. While automated evaluation is not an adequate substitute for usability testing, we can employ web accessibility evaluation tools to help determine if content is accessible to users with accessibility needs.

This teach session would provide an overview of several free, web-based tools researchers, teachers, librarians, curators, archivists, and other content creators can use to evaluate website accessibility against recognized guidelines and create more accessible user experiences. To give you an idea of what to expect, Kim Smalley and I presented a similar session at HighEdWeb Alabama in June:

– Melissa Green

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Reining in the Rogue Archives Thu, 03 Sep 2015 19:46:29 +0000

A local government archives established before local government archives were a “thing,” and long before “Describing Archives: A Content Standard” was conceived. Long-serving archivists with dedication to and knowledge of the community and its history… but no formal archival training. One-of-a-kind propriety software used to describe and catalog holdings. Collections housed in a century-old wooden train depot with no fire protection. If ever an archives has “gone rogue,” the Limestone County Archives, established 1980 in Athens, Alabama, is it.

So how do you rein in a rogue archives? And why should you bother? I propose a roundtable discussion session in which we tackle the ways in which all archives tend go a little bit rogue, and we compare the tools and resources available to us to help us align with ever-evolving professional standards and practices. Specifically, I’d like to discuss:

– Content management systems: ArchivesSpace, Archon, Archivists Toolkit, ContentDM, PastPerfect, Access database… check around and you’ll find that nearly every archives and special collections repository is using something different, or the same thing in a different way. At the Limestone County Archives, we’ve gone from an Access database to software created for us to limited use of PastPerfect to, just in the past week, installation of ArchivesSpace and the steep learning curve involved in getting started with that. What works? Why or why not? How can we help each other through this process?

– Archival training: Many small repositories are staffed by the local history buff and a group of volunteers, not necessarily graduates from the nearest archival studies program. Let’s talk about practical ways to provide basic archival standards and practices training to people who know and love their collections, but need to know how best to care for and provide access to those documents.

– Climate control and protection: A purpose-built repository is not always feasible, particularly in smaller communities where archives may be housed in whatever space is available. Let’s find ways to protect those physical documents, no matter where they are housed.

This whole discussion needs to be in the context of why it matters: It’s ultimately not about the numbers on the box, but about preserving and providing access to our past for future generations.

– Rebekah Davis

Building an Accessible Future for the Humanities Thu, 03 Sep 2015 19:34:25 +0000

The NEH-funded Building an Accessible Future for the Humanities Project engages humanists, librarians, information scientists, and cultural heritage professionals with technologies, design standards, and accessibility issues associated with the use of digital environments. Participants in the 2-day Accessible Future workshops, repeated 5 times in different geographical regions, learn about digital environments and accessibility through readings, lectures, discussions, group activities, and presentations. Those interested in Accessible Future may learn more on the project website:

I attended an Accessible Future workshop at Emory University in April and am happy to facilitate a session in which I share lessons learned and lead participants in an online resource evaluation and discussion activity similar to one held during the workshop.

– Melissa Green

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RBD Library Maps Thu, 03 Sep 2015 18:36:10 +0000

To help guide your way!

Querying Access, Power and Taxonomy in the Digital Humanities Thu, 03 Sep 2015 18:19:07 +0000

I propose a talk session to explore some of the points that Miriam Posner presented in the keynote address to the Keystone Digital Humanities Conference, University of Pennsylvania, July 22, 2015. She is the coordinator of Digital Humanities at UCLA and a frequent author and speaker about the Digital Humanities. Point 1: Mapping platforms, including Google Maps, use a Cartesian model of space that embodies a colonialist project of empire building. While mathematicians may argue with this, the practice of visualizing space as flat with longitudes and latitudes grids the earth for identification and control. Point 2: Visualizing data tends to illustrate what is known when in fact scholars often realize that questions or parts thereof can be unanswered by lack of data or because they do not fit into predetermined categories. New programs and platforms, such as Topotime (visualizes time in nuanced ways with shapes, not chronological markers), are curatives that allow for uncertainty and approximations. Point 3: How accessible are the Digital Humanities? Are emphases on open source technology and freely available information on the Internet—and their formats—accessible in theory and in practice? We in Alabama probably know individuals and families with accessibility issues.

– Cynthia Kristan-Graham

Workshops! Thu, 03 Sep 2015 18:10:42 +0000

Omeka Hackathon – Friday at 1:00 p.m.

Introduction to Digital Project Management – Friday at 2:30 p.m.

In this workshop we will be investigating Digital Humanities project management. In keeping with the empowering ethos of THATCamp AL we will be working hands-on with fictional project scenario to explore critical stages of managing a Digital Humanities project, from its inception to its initial launch, and either its onward development or its legacy.

Introduction to the Digital Public Library of America – Friday at 3:45 p.m.

The ABCs of Omeka: Building a Platform for Collections and Exhibitions in a Few Steps – Saturday at 9:30 a.m.