THATCamp Performing Arts 2013

THATCamp logoI just had my first THATCamp experience at CUNY Graduate Center – Kimon Keramidas and the staff at the Martin E. Segal Theater  Center organized a fantastic two-day event. Campers were mostly archivists/librarians and academics, with some practitioners in attendance(everyone’s hoping for more practitioners next time it’s held). The environment was invigorating – these are the kinds of academic exchanges I look for: informal, fast-paced, tons of ideas/tools being thrown out, projects dressed up (and down), all in a collaborative atmosphere. For those that have never attended a THATCamp, it is truly an “(un)conference.” Participants post ideas for sessions, and during the opening scheduling session folks proposed further ideas, expanded on initial proposals to create broader discussions, haggled for time slots to accommodate overlapping interests, and generally made order out of chaos. The resulting schedule included a wide range of issues: social media and technology tool workshops (the workshops were scheduled in advance), unions, intellectual property, marketing, and archive practices (to name a few), with concluding remarks after a forum on the AAAS report on the humanities.

Since there were multiple authors documenting every session via GoogleDocs, campers could keep track of conversations they missed – especially great, when more than a few people commented on how they might have to clone themselves in order to see/hear everything.

During the first session I attended, Mary Isbell walked us through Sketchup Make – a free and powerful program  for 3-D modeling of theatrical spaces, and Mary’s short but thorough tutorial gave us the basic tools we needed to get started. For those looking for examples, the 3D Warehouse offers a few models of theatre spaces. In sessions on social media in the classroom and predigital information, a range of practices and tools were discussed: Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, GroupTweet, TimelineJS, IFTTT reports, TEI, Oxygen XML Editor, etc. Though I have yet to use Tumblr in the classroom, I found Jules Odendahl-James’ dramaturgy Tumblr on Young Jean Lee’s Lear to be particularly striking, along with Eero Laine’s class-created Tumblr for theatre history. Of equal interest were the #ACTweets project started by Eero Laine, Rayya El Zein, and Barrie Gelles: the trio began an inter-campus Twitter discussion between intro acting classes (Hillary Miller wrote up their process on the CUNY Digital Fellows blog as well). The Lightning Talks at the close of the first day were limited to two minutes, but the quick-and-dirty approach still allowed participants to showcase a range of projects – from the Linked Jazz network to show relationships between jazz musicians, to Lisa Reinke’s Photo Album Workshop at the Story Gym, the Segal Center’s archive for Dan Gerould, Anna Kijas’s work on musician Teresa Carreno, and the projects going on at 3-Legged Dog (to name only a few!). Though I could not attend many of the Friday sessions, I did catch the Make session on the AAAS humanities report. A host of theoretical and practical issues arose: copyright, open access, MOOCs, liveness, using online spaces to document, present, and possibly teach performance digitally, and the many challenges and possibilities that we grapple with as humanists in the digital age.

Along with visiting the THATCamp Performing Arts blog, you can check out the Storify I created for the conference (and please contact me if you were in attendance and I missed anything).

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