Category Archives: Uncategorized

After THATCamp is the Afterparty

Please join fellow campers for drinks and dinner at 5:15 at Fairweather/Rare Form. Continue the conversation or start new ones. Join us for a drink even if you’ve got dinner plans!

Fairweather is an rooftop bar with a great view and lots of comfortable seating. Rare Form is a delicatessen just below. Sip cocktails at Fairweather or have a craft beer while you order snacks or a sandwich from the deli. Getting there couldn’t be easier. Fairweather/Rare Form is located at 793 J St, San Diego, CA 92101. Simply head down 5th Ave until you get to J Street. Then hang a right and Rare Form is a few block down on the right.
Just in case, here’s a map:
Rare Form Map

See you there!

Play Session: Free and Open Source!

Want to learn more about how to detach your digital life from big companies and do your work with free, community-built software? Come to this session to learn from one another about what free and open-source software is, how it gets made, how you can use it, and why we should bother learning about it. We’ll compare notes on the tools we use, the tricks we’ve learned, and the questions we’re wondering about. We’ll also have fun with the tools we have, and help each other find and install new ones.

The WordPress Basics session is a great companion to this as well.

Talk Session: Religions and the Commons

The notion of the commons, with roots in medieval European law and the practices of religious cultures around the world, is experiencing a revival in the digital age. Open-source software, Creative Commons licenses, community-generated wikis, and social-media networks are all serving to reacquaint people with commoning in new ways. And many of the most pressing debates about technology today—such as those relating to surveillance, pollution, and the future of publishing—are, fundamentally, debates about the commons. And this is no mere metaphor; as a growing body of historical and sociological scholarship shows, commoning is a kind of economic system in its own right—distinct from state and market, and often obscured from view. In particular, there has been little discussion of what the commons has to do with religion, though the commons is implicit in many of our most fundamental questions: Who has access to religious knowledge, and knowledge about religion? How do practitioners govern their own traditions through their practice? How do religious practices manage economic behavior?

This discussion will include a brief introduction to the notion of the commons—both as an economic theory and as a prized concept in contemporary tech culture. We will then have an open discussion about the commons in our digital lives, our research, our teaching, and our culture. Open questions include:

  • What does the concept of the commons add to the study of religion, online and offline?
  • Where do we see practices of commoning on the Internet and in our research subjects?
  • How can we incorporate more commons-based practices into our scholarship?

proposed questions for That camp from a Newbie

For those that are experienced in using technology in the classroom and as the classroom, what do you know now that you wish you had known as you and your institution were embarking on its first online courses?
I am interested in learning about the positive and negative experiences that other teachers and students are having with online and hybrid courses. I am particularly interested in the pedagogical issues that arise, as well as the issues directly related to the technology.

Final Workshop Preview: Introduction to Omeka

Last year’s THATCamp featured a wonderful hands on workshop on how to use Omeka, an open source content management system that also functions as a digital exhibit publisher. Based on the success of this workshop, we’ve decided to run it again. So on Friday, from 1-2:30 in a room TBD, I (Chris Cantwell) will be leading a workshop introducing everyone to the basics of using Omeka both for research and teaching. I’m posting the abstract from last year’s workshop, which was run by Amanda French.

These days, any scholar or organization is almost certain to have a collection of digital material from research and teaching: scanned texts, digital images, original syllabi, even historic songs, oral histories, or digital video. Omeka is a simple, free system built by and for scholars and cultural heritage professionals that will help you publish and interpret such digital material online in a scholarly way so that it’s available for researchers, students, and the public in a searchable online database integrated with attractive online essays and exhibits. In this introduction to Omeka, we’ll look at a few of the many examples of Omeka websites built by archives, libraries, museums, and individual scholars and teachers; define some key terms and concepts related to Omeka; learn about the Dublin Core metadata standard for describing digital objects; and go over the difference between the hosted version of Omeka at and the self-hosted version of Omeka at Participants will also learn to use Omeka themselves through hands-on exercises, so please *bring a laptop* (not an iPad). Learn more about Omeka at and

Proposing Sessions at THATCamp AAR 2014

With THATCampAAR less than a month away, it’s time to start thinking about the conversations you want to have and the problems you want to work on.

If you look at the schedule for the day, you will notice that with the exception of the directed, hands-on workshops, the topics of the rest of the sessions are all “TBA.” This is where you come in! Since technology is subject to rapid change, THATCamps purposefully leave the schedule blank until the weeks before the event when campers who will be attending the event are able to propose and vote on the sessions they would like to attend. In short, you control the schedule by proposing sessions, commenting on the session ideas you find interesting, and, on the morning of THATCamp, voting for the sessions you would like to attend.

A brief note about proposing sessions. THATCamp Headquarters has posted a super helpful guide on proposing sessions that you can find here. For now I will just say that by proposing a session you are not declaring yourself to be an expert on a topic. In fact, it’s just the opposite. One proposes a session at THATCamp not because they have answers, but because they have questions. And the hope is that once you make your own interests and needs known, other people will chime in and say “Yeah, I want to learn about that too!” and next thing you know you have a session devoted to the collaborative discussion of the issue or topic at hand. These sessions can take many and any form. They can be topical–“What kind of digital projects does the study of Islam need?”–pedagogical–“What kind of digital tools do graduate students need to know? What kind of digital sources can undergraduates trust?”–or technical–“What is this tool and how can I use it?” The only requirement you have as the proposer of a session is that you are committing to be a part of the conversation as its convener–perhaps by kicking it off with a reflection on your interest in this question. If you need some inspiration, check out some of the great proposals from last year’s THATCamp AAR here.

Don’t wait until the last minute! Propose topics and questions that you would like to have a conversation about now. And comment on the sessions that you would like to participate in. Conversations that start now are more likely to be part of the schedule on November 21.

What makes a good session proposal?

Good sessions come in many varieties. Often they are organized around questions, projects, or points of concern.

For example, if you are interested in using technology for teaching, you could propose a session to talk about what strategies and tools other have used, what worked (and what didn’t), and what outcomes were seen.

Or if you have concerns about the ways a particular tool models space, language, or time and the implications of those assumptions, you could propose a session to discuss and evaluate that tool and its usefulness to scholars of religion.

Any topic connected to religion, technology, and the intersection thereof is fair game.

One useful way to structure a session is to focus on producing something that would be a resource for others. This could be an annotated list of current strategies, a manifesto or call to action, a collaborative essay, or a digital tool. You can include what you would like the session to produce as part of your proposal or suggest that it be determined by the group during the session.

What should I expect in a session?

You should expect to be an active participant in the sessions you attend. This means asking questions, sharing your ideas and opinions, and contributing to the goals of the session.

If you proposed the session, you should expect to be responsible for starting and facilitating the conversation and, if there is a particular goal, focusing the group on achieving that goal. You are not expected, however, to have the answers or to present the solution.

You are also under no obligation to attend only one session during a time block. If there are multiple sessions you want to be a part of, you can and should split your time between them. And if the conversation in a particular session shifts to a topic you are not interested in, join another.

How will the sessions be chosen?

We will finalize the schedule by voting during the first session on Friday.

All the session proposals will be printed and you will be given stickers to vote for the sessions you would like to participate in. The votes will be tallied and those sessions that have generated the greatest interest will be assigned to particular spaces and times.

You are also welcome to start up ad hoc sessions during the day as new conversations develop.

How do I propose a session?

To propose a session, log in to WordPress with the account information emailed to you when you were approved. On the left hand side of the window, select “Posts.” This will take you to a page that lists all the post currently published on

WordPress "Welcome" screen.

From here, select “Add New Post.” This will open up the post editor.

WordPress Posts Page.

You can either write your session proposal here or copy over the text from Word or another text editor. Give your session a title and assign it a Category. You can assign multiple categories to describe the topic you want to discussion. Also, be sure to also select “Session Proposals” and the type of session as two of your category choices.

Add New Post

Category: Session Proposal

When you are finished, select “Publish.” The post will appear on the home page of!

Don’t hesitate to comment below if you have any questions. Someone from the organization team will get back to you.

Workshop Preview: An Introduction to Voyant Tools

Today’s workshop preview comes from the workshop’s leader, Marcus Bingeheimer of Temple University. He’ll be running a workshop on an open source text mining tool called Voyant, and has provided the following preview.
How many books do read in a week? One? Two? Perhaps two or three thousand, that is, in 30 years. What about the other hundred million? One of the promises of digital text is that it will be possible to use larger corpora for research, by finding patterns or discrete items of information across thousands of texts. Attempt of “Distant Reading” (Moretti) are technologically mediated; besides corpora of digital text one needs software tools to analyze and vizualize them. Voyant Tools ( is a free, online suite of tools that is develped to let Humanities scholars explore digital text in various ways. After a short introductory lecture on the functions of the online interface, participants can try things out. I will prepare some corpora to work on, but encourage participants to bring their own digital texts (preferable as plain text or xml). 

The workshop will run from 2:45-4:15pm in a room TBD.

Workshop Preview: Podcasting Religious Studies

As some of you may know, the program of any THATCamp is comprised to two kinds of meetings: hands on, directed workshops and user-proposed sessions. I’ll be sharing more information about proposing sessions at the end of this week. Today, though, I wanted to start a series of previews of the three workshops we’ll be hosting at THATCamp AAR2014. The first workshop will be on Podcasting and will be run by two stellar scholars, S. Brent Plate, host of That Religious Show, and Kristian Petersen, host of a number of religious studies podcasts. Here’s what Brent and Kristian say they’ll be covering:

Podcasts are poised to be one of the major forms of U.S. media in the coming years. The public is listening to stories on “This American Life” and its spin-off “Serial,” while comedy shows like “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” entertain and Krista Tippet’s “On Being” examines issues of faith and life. Estimates indicate 75 million Americans listen to at least one podcast a month, and Apple recently announced that there are one billion podcast subscriptions via iTunes. Podcasting is a low cost, flexible medium that allows for great experimentation.

So, what does this mean to faculty and their students? How can podcasts and podcasting be used in the classroom? And how can they be used as forms of scholarly production? During this workshop we will explore the why, what, and how of podcasting.

  • Why? Reasons for using podcasts in both teaching and scholarly production.
  • What? Equipment, programs, web-hosts, etc. for creating and dissemination podcasts.
  • How? DIY instructions for podcasting, problems or complications we have encountered, and successes.

So bring a computer, portable device, maybe some earbuds and a mic, so we can get some playtime.

Running from 10:30am-12:00pm. Room TBD.