announced in April that it was donating its archives to the Library of Congress, the first reaction of many scholars and archivists was excitement at the recognition - by both a federal institution and by a major technology company - that our digital streams are worthy of archiving. This was followed quickly with questions about the exact processes by which the Twitter archives would be created, organized, and funded.When Twitter
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Many of the scholars and archivists leading the charge to address these and other questions are involved in THATCamp. THATCamp, short for The Humanities and Technology Camp, is a user-generated "unconference" on the digital humanities. The main THATCamp is organized and hosted by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. This year's THATCamp was just held last month.
As an academic discipline, the humanities typically includes history, art, literature, philosophy, and music. The digital humanities, the purview of THATCamp, operates at the intersection of the humanities and digital technologies. The scholars involved in the digital humanities analyze the ways in which new media and new technologies impact the humanities, but also study the ways in which these academic disciplines can, in turn, impact how we use and develop new technologies, particularly those associated with visualization and archiving.
According to Amanda French, Regional THATCamp Coordinator, THATCamp is precisely the kind of place where those involved in the digital humanities can start to figure out the problems related to social media archiving and curation.
According to French, " Social media archiving is the kind of thing that makes traditionally trained archivists (who are better at dealing with paper) tear their hair out: people are not at all sure how it's going to work or how it should work, and so we're going to need to do a lot of brainstorming. Historians want to make sure that the social media data is useful for them, for instance, so they need to have input into what archivists and electronic records managers and programmers are going to build together."
French contends that THATCamp is one of the few places where all those people come together specifically in order to work out some of the complicated and wide-ranging problems associated with the archival and academic analysis of our digital lives.
In addition to the main THATCamp, regional camps are organized around the world, and the conversations that these scholars have occur not just face-to-face at these events, but are ongoing via various social networking sites, most notably via Twitter.