Finally back for good in my hotel after day 1 of THAT Camp. I am exhausted and energized at the same time. The organizers have brought together an absolutely amazing group of people, and I am humbled by the sheer brilliance present. I’m going to do a quick overview, but many of the topics discussed will show up in my blog for weeks to come.
First, though- the DC area is becoming a favorite destination of mine, even though I have only been here twice now. I spent 5 hours yesterday int he National Gallery of Art, and was, of course, awed the entire time. (The only annoying part was listening to people say ‘why is that art? I could do that!’ over and over. ) Fairfax is lovely, despite the occasional disappearing sidewalks (seems people don’t walk long distances here very often?)
THAT Camp began with a great breakfast and a whole group meeting where we planned out the schedule for the day. Participants posted their presenting ideas to the blog for a couple of weeks leading up to the unconference, so the task was a bit easier.
Session 1 – Art
The first session was a session on art- specifically digital art. There were only two others including me, David Rieder and Susan Harum. We had a great discussion of what digital art might look like and how it might be supported. David and Susan had many, many great links to share, and it was great to hear how other campuses are dealing with the emergence of digital art. I’d love to see more about this topic.
A fantastic lunch was accompanied by Dork Shorts- brief talks on technology topic. Presenters had 5 minutes to show off their site or idea. More good link goodness, although some of the sites were in production and not yet available to the public.
Session 2 – Alternative search
I started the session with a brief slide show that addressed some of the points I’ve made in my recent alternative search postings.
After that, I left it up to the group to talk about what we could do to make search better. I was thrilled that the group contained a number of people with much more experience with search than me, and we talked about technologies, what the users want, and how to make search better. Josh Greenburg brought up the excellent point that some of what we think of as search problems are really user interface problems- so I am looking forward to attending the interface design tomorrow.
One of the developers of Blacklight (Bess Sadler), an open source OPAC enhancement, was there and the work that they have done is absolutely amazing. I particularly liked her ideas for allowing departments to customize search for different disciplines through an easy to use GUI interface. There were a lot of other great links mentioned, which, unfortunately I lost because of an errant keystroke.
Session 3 – Making things
Bill Turkle lead two sessions on the Arduino- I attended the second. I managed to make a light blink and alter a few programs, but what I am really excited about is getting an Arduino. I have never done anything with physical computing or electronics before, so it was a steep learning curve for me. I am the proud new owner of an Arduino, though, and I have several ideas of project I can’t wait to get started with.
Session 4 – Creative Commons/Copyright
I sort of led this session, too, through I felt a bit like an impostor because I am by no means an expert on copyright. I started with a discussion on creative commons, talked about why I use it, and what some of the advantages and disadvantages are. The group talked about some of the copyright issues they have had, and we tried to brainstorm some ways to get around them. I wish I had more answers for the frustrating issue of copyright. I believe in intellectual property, but also share the belief of many that the copyright system as it stands is as much of a hindrance as a help.
One of the frustrations the group expressed was the tendency of institutions to hold back higher resolution images from the web, opting instead to only allow very low resolution images to try and make money by selling higher resolution images. One solid idea we came up with is to try and collect studies that analyze the cost vs benefits of doing this and compile a list of advantages of making higher resolution images available and free to use. I’m going to work on this – I’m wondering if I can make it into an independent study project for school.
Andrea Ferguson talked a little bit about her experiences getting her MFA at the University at the University of South Florida, and I came away much more optimistic about Fine Art in Academia. I have been afraid that digital art was stifled many places, but many conversations have now led me to believe that that just isn’t so. Makes me want to go for an MFA even more.
Recap and dinner
At the end, the group met again and Josh Greenburg made a few final remarks. Then many of us went to dinner at Minerva, a fantastic Indian restaurant here in Fairfax. The dinner and the conversation were excellent.
I look forward to another great day tomorrow, though my brain feels about full already. I have a beautiful walk to CHNM tomorrow in the morning to look forward to, during which I can clear my thoughts.