What is THATCamp CAA 2015?
An unconference for artists and art historians held in association with the College Art Association’s annual conference. See below for more on the notion of an unconference. This year we are highlighting new media art and critical making as a focus.  The event is being convened by Joyce Rudinsky, UNC-Chapel Hill and Victoria Szabo, Duke University.

When is it?
Monday February 9 and Tuesday, February 10, the days immediately preceding the CAA annual conference for 2015.

Where is it?
All THATCamp CAA sessions will be held at the New York Hilton Midtown at 1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY. See the Map page for the location.

How much does it cost?
THATCamp CAA is free to attend.

Who should attend?
Anyone can attend THATCamp CAA; it is open to the public. You do not have to be registered for the CAA annual conference to attend. Registration is capped at 100 participants. This year we especially encourage artists to attend, although art historians and members of other disciplines are also welcome. Our goal is to include artists, designers, scholars, historians, theoreticians, librarians, educators, and students in the discussion.

How is the program determined?
The majority of the unconference program is determined by registered participants on the day of the event. Although a few sessions (such as skills workshops or a single keynote address) may be scheduled beforehand, the program is otherwise left blank until the event begins. Participants are asked to propose sessions beforehand, and in the first session on the first day of the unconference, a facilitator will guide the whole group through creating a program for the rest of the event by hearing about and discussing the proposals, determining when and where to hold the proposed sessions, and if necessary conducting a vote on proposed sessions to determine which ones will be on the program.

What is a THATCamp?
THATCamp stands for “The Humanities and Technology Camp.” It is an unconference: an open, inexpensive meeting where humanists and technologists of all skill levels learn and build together in sessions proposed on the spot. An unconference is to a conference what a seminar is to a lecture, what a party at your house is to a church wedding, what a pick-up game of Ultimate Frisbee is to an NBA game, what a jam band is to a symphony orchestra: it’s more informal and more participatory. Here are the key characteristics of a THATCamp:

  • It’s collaborative: there are no spectators at a THATCamp. Everyone participates, including in the task of setting an agenda or program by proposing sessions.
  • It’s informal: there are no lengthy proposals, papers, presentations, or product demos. The emphasis is on productive, collegial work or free-form discussion.
  • It’s spontaneous and timely, with the agenda / schedule / program being mostly or entirely created by all the participants.
  • It’s productive: participants are encouraged to use session time to create, build, write, hack, and solve problems.
  • It’s lightweight and inexpensive to organize: we generally estimate that a THATCamp takes about 100 hours over the course of six months and about $4000.
  • It’s not-for-profit and either free or inexpensive (under $30) to attend: it’s funded by small sponsorships, donations of space and labor, and by passing the hat around to the participants.
  • It’s small, having anywhere from 25 or 50 to about 150 participants: most THATCamps aim for about 75 participants.
  • It’s non-hierarchical and non-disciplinary and inter-professional: THATCamps welcome graduate students, scholars, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, developers and programmers, K-12 teachers, administrators, managers, and funders as well as people from the non-profit sector, people from the for-profit sector, and interested amateurs. The topic “the humanities and technology” contains multitudes.
  • It’s open and online: participants make sure to share their notes, documents, pictures, and other materials from THATCamp discussions before and after the event on the web and via social media.
  • It’s fun, intellectually engaging, and a little exhausting.

What is an “unconference”?

The shortest answer is this: an unconference is a highly informal conference. Two differences are particularly notable. First, at an unconference, the program isn’t set beforehand: it’s created on the first day with the help of all the participants rather than beforehand by a program committee. Second, at an unconference, there are no presentations — all participants in an unconference are expected to talk and work with fellow participants in every session. An unconference is to a conference what a seminar is to a lecture; going to an unconference is like being a member of an improv troupe where going to a conference is (mostly) like being a member of an audience. Unconferences are also free or cheap and open to all. For more information, see Wikipedia’s entry on the unconference.

Some say that the first unconference was BarCamp, which is the model for THATCamp. Read more about BarCamp at barcamp.orgradar.oreilly.com/2005/08/bar-camp.html, and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BarCamp.

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