How do I propose a session?
All THATCamp attendees are active participants in setting the agenda.
Once you register for your THATCamp and are approved, you will receive a user account on the THATCamp website. You should receive your login information by email. Before the THATCamp, you should log in to the THATCamp site and propose sessions in the comments below. Please keep proposals brief — preferably no more than 15 words. (Think like it’s Twitter.)
The morning of the event, all THATCamp participants will vote on those proposals (and probably come up with several new ones), and then all together will work out how best to put those sessions into a schedule.
Remember that you will be expected to facilitate the sessions you propose, so that if you propose a hacking session, you should have the germ of a project to work on; if you propose a workshop, you should be prepared to teach it or find a teacher; if you propose a discussion of the Digital Public Library of America, you should be prepared to summarize what that is, begin the discussion, keep the discussion going, and end the discussion.
When do I propose a session?
Anytime – now is great! You can propose a session any time, but get involved in the discussion as early as possible to you can workshop, refine, hone, and have dialogue around your idea with others who will attend so you can gauge interest and get others on board. Collaboration is encouraged.
It’s a good idea to check the THATCamp site frequently in the week beforehand to see and comment on everyone’s session proposals. You can also come up with a last-minute idea and propose it to the THATCamp participants during the scheduling session, which is the first session of the THATCamp.
What do I propose?
There are roughly four things people do in THATCamp sessions: Talk, Make, Teach, and Play. Sometimes one session contains elements of all these, but it’s also a fair taxonomy for THATCamp sessions.
In a Talk session proposal, you offer to lead a group discussion on a topic or question of interest to you.
In a Make session proposal, you offer to lead a small group in a hands-on collaborative working session with the aim of producing a draft document or piece of software.
In a Teach session, you offer to teach a skill, either a “hard” skill or a “soft” skill.
In a Play session, anything goes — you suggest literally playing a game, or playing around as a group with one or more technologies, or just doing something fun or original.
Why are sessions proposed this way?
Proposing sessions just before a THATCamp and building a schedule during the first session of a THATCamp ensures that sessions are honest and informal, that session topics are current, and that unconference participants will collaborate on a shared task. An unconference, in Tom Scheinfeldt’s words, is fun, productive, and collegial, and at THATCamp, therefore, “[W]e’re not here to listen and be listened to. We’re here to work, to participate actively.[…] We’re here to get stuff done.” Listen further:
Everyone should feel equally free to participate and everyone should let everyone else feel equally free to participate. You are not students and professors, management and staff here at THATCamp. At most conferences, the game we play is one in which I, the speaker, try desperately to prove to you how smart I am, and you, the audience member, tries desperately in the question and answer period to show how stupid I am by comparison. Not here. At THATCamp we’re here to be supportive of one another as we all struggle with the challenges and opportunities of incorporating technology in our work, departments, disciplines, and humanist missions.
See the About page for more information on the philosophy of unconferences.