• Preparing for THATCamp AHA

    Hi all — Amanda French here, THATCamp Coordinator and co-organizer (which is rare) of THATCamp American Historical Association, even though I won’t be there. (I’ll be at the Modern Language Association meeting instead, since I’m a *literary* historian.) As we get closer to THATCamp AHA on Thursday, January 5th, I wanted to give you a few important logistical details, especially about proposing sessions.

    Proposing sessions

    Now is the time to start thinking about what you’d like to do or talk about at THATCamp AHA. If you’re not familiar with the unconference model, you might want to read our About page, but also and especially our page on Proposing a Session. If you’re stuck, you might think about it this way: describe whatever professional problem is currently bothering you most, and pose your session proposal in such a way that you’ll get help with that problem. You don’t *have* to propose a session, but since unconferences are participant-driven, if no one proposes anything, then there won’t be an unconference. (That never happens.)

    To propose a session, log in at aha2012.thatcamp.org/wp-login.php and write a blog post outlining your session idea. To write and publish your blog post, go to Posts –> Add New, write your post, and then click Publish. Your blog post will be published to the main page of the THATCamp AHA site, which will allow us all to read and comment on it. Do please plan to visit the THATCamp AHA site fairly often in the coming days to see what people are proposing and to comment on the proposals.

    In the first 90-minute session on Thursday at 12pm, everyone will discuss and vote on the session proposals in a process run by Dan Cohen, and you’ll have a chance then to propose last-minute session ideas or to ask for a particular time slot. Some sessions might not make it on to the schedule, and some might be combined with other sessions. If your session proposal makes it to the program, you will be expected to facilitate it, but very often that just consists of making the first and the last remarks. You can engage in more structured activities aimed at producing a document or other result if you like: it’s your session, so as long as it doesn’t consist of you giving a presentation, you can run it as you choose. The one exception to the “no presentations” rule is if you’d like to teach people a particular skill, and you can certainly offer to do that, though even then we encourage workshops to involve hands-on exercises.

    We have pre-scheduled several workshops, and you can see their times and rooms on the schedule. (Note that there’s been a room change: workshops that were in “Parlor B” are now one floor up in “Michigan B.”) By 1:30 on Thursday, the rest of the time slots on the schedule will be filled, and you’ll refer to that web page to see where to go.

    The most important thing to remember is that unconferences are casual, spontaneous, fun, collegial, open, non-hierarchical, inquiry-driven, and (ideally) productive. (Well, that’s several things.) Apart from that, there’s not much else to know. If you’re curious about other THATCamps, try doing a Twitter search on THATCamp, or check out some of the websites for one of the fifty-plus other THATCamps.


    On Thursday, 1/5, we’ll be checking in THATCamp AHA participants at a table outside Parlor C in the Sheraton. See our Travel page for a map to the hotel. You can pick up your THATCamp AHA badge starting at about 11:15am, and we’ll begin the crucial first all-hands scheduling session promptly at noon. You’re welcome to bring lunch and eat it during that session; unfortunately, our budget didn’t run to either food or coffee. We made sure, however, that the budget would run to wi-fi, which will be available in all the rooms. We recommend that you bring a laptop, especially if you plan to attend one or more of the workshops. Unconferences are deliberately informal, so dress is casual. Wear whatever you like (that’s warm).

    Instead of running a wait list, we overbooked our capacity a bit, anticipating a few cancellations. Therefore, there are currently 111 people registered for THATCamp AHA: see our list of Participants to check out who’s coming, and consider updating your own profile when you log in. To add a picture, upload one at gravatar.com — it will automatically appear on all Gravatar-enabled sites.

    I think that’s about it. Questions? Write me at . Hope you have a fun and productive and enlightening THATCamp.

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