Here are the key characteristics of a THATCamp:

  • There are no spectators at a THATCamp; everyone participates.
  • It is small and intimate, having anywhere from 25 or 50 to no more than 100 participants. Most THATCamps aim for about 75 participants.
  • It is not-for-profit and free (or very inexpensive) to attend; it’s funded by small sponsorships and by passing the hat around to the participants for voluntary donations.
  • It’s informal: there are no lengthy proposals, papers, or presentations. The emphasis is on discussion or on productive, collegial work.
  • It is also non-hierarchical and non-disciplinary: THATCamp Ivy + welcomes graduate students, scholars, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, developers and programmers, administrators, an managers.
  • Participants make sure to share their notes, slides, and other materials from THATCamp discussions before and after the event on the web and via social media.

What is an “unconference”?

The short answer is that an unconference is an informal conference, one with no presentations or program committees. According to Wikipedia, an unconference is “a conference where the content of the sessions is created and managed by the participants, generally day-by-day during the course of the event, rather than by one or more organizers in advance of the event.” An unconference is not a spectator event. Participants in an unconference are expected to help set the agenda, share their knowledge, solve problems, take notes, blog, tweet, and actively collaborate with fellow participants rather than simply attend or present.

Who should come?

Anyone with energy and an interest in the intersections between technology and pedagogy at small, traditional, and selective colleges and universities in the Northeast.

What is “technology”?

We suggest you read this brilliant article by Professor Leo Marx, American cultural historian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept.” (Side note: those who love technology should be those who are most aware of its hazards.)

What should I propose?

That’s up to you. Sessions at THATCamp will range from software demos to training sessions to discussions of research findings to half-baked rants (but please no full-blown papers or presentations; we’re not here to read or be read to). You should come to THATCamp with something in mind, and on the first day find a time, a place, and people to share it with. Once you’re at THATCamp, you may also find people with similar topics and interests to team up with for a joint session.

How much does it cost to go?

THATCamp is free to all attendees. THATCamp tries on principle to be both “free as in speech” and “free as in beer”.

What are “dork shorts” and why do we want to have them at our THATCamp?

“Dork shorts” are very short (1- to 2-minute) presentations where anyone can get up in front of the group and give a quick introduction for a project. It’s a good opportunity for individuals to get their project or work viewed by all campers, and encourages follow-up conversation afterwards.

Where can I read about the history of the “unconference,” the “lightning talk,” the “Pecha Kucha,” and the original BarCamp?


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