Tim Sherratt

Tim Sherratt

Words | Experiments

Digital historian, web tinkerer, cultural data hacker.

Currently: technical analyst at the Australian National Data Service, web developer at the National Museum of Australia, and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Digital Design + Media Arts Research Cluster, University of Canberra.

My Posts

Blog posts and reports

August 30th, 2010 Comments Off

Just trying to collect people’s posts and reports on THATCamp Canberra:

There’s also a THATCamp Twitter archive at Twapper Keeper.


August 27th, 2010 Comments Off

Summaries of all the BootCamp sessions are up on the BootCamp page.

For some sessions you might need to do a bit of preparation, so check out the details now!

Extending Zotero

August 26th, 2010 § 1

If you haven’t tried Zotero, well… you should. It’s a Firefox add-on that’s makes it much easier to manage your research.

But what interests me most about Zotero is not its capabilities as a citation manager, but as a platform for capturing, manipulating and sharing structured data from a wide variety of research sources.

At the heart of Zotero are a series of ‘translators’ that extract data from web pages and save it into a database. Anyone with a little Javascript knowledge can write a translator and contribute it to Zotero. These community-developed translators enable Zotero to capture data not just from library catalogues, but from archival finding aids, document and image collections, museum databases and more.

Once you’ve captured the data you can start to do things with it. Zotero has a built-in timeline display and there’s a plugin that will look for location information and map it. There’s also some really interesting work going on to integrate AXE for xml annotations, and all sorts of future possibilities.

And of course your data can be shared via the Zotero website (and in the future through the Internet Archive), and accessed through a web api. So there are also great opportunities for re-using and integrating this data into other sites and applications.

I’ve written translators for the National Archives of Australia collection database, the Australian Dictionary of Biography and, most recently, the National Library of Australia’s newspapers project. I have plans for a lot more (though of course not the time!). Depending on people’s interests, I thought I might give a brief intro to Zotero and then walk through the process of writing a translator. You can also help me to choose which translator to tackle next!

There are a few frustrations. The Zotero data model is still rather focused on publications and citations. I’ve tried to hack this a bit in my NAA translator by using machine tags to provide semantic relations and custom fields, but I’m hoping that this sort of semantic extensibility will be included in future versions of Zotero.

But in order to help make Zotero do what we want, we have to engage with the developers and the community, we have to contribute ideas, code and comments.

Brain food

August 25th, 2010 Comments Off

What can we not accomplish with ideas to nourish the mind and coffee to make us all jittery and hyperactive?

THATCamp Canberra will have liberal quantities of both.

Your menu:
Saturday breakfast — fruit platters and scones
Saturday lunch — wraps (50% vegetarian)
Sunday breakfast — fruit platters and danishes

There will also be a coffee cart available throughout, dispensing caffeinated and other beverages, along with a variety of snacks. You’ll have to pay for these, but yes — it’s real coffee!

There’s no formal conference dinner but a booking has been made at the Asian Cafe (32 West Row Civic — see map) for 7.30pm. If you’d like to come, add your name to the list. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of transport available for out-of-towners.

Show us your speedos

August 25th, 2010 § 10

During lunch on Saturday will be inviting people to make lightning presentations of no more than 3 minutes. In US THATCamp parlance these are ‘dork shorts’, but the Australian translation — ‘boardies’ — doesn’t seem to quite work. Speed-os perhaps? Stubbies?

Anyway, think of them as showcase opportunities, or elevator pitches — a chance to briefly show off a project you’ve been working on or thinking about.

So start thinking now about what you’d like to present. Leave a comment and link below if you’d like to be added to the line-up.

Order your t-shirts now!

August 17th, 2010 Comments Off

THATCamp Canberra t-shirts are available now from Zazzle.

Sorry, there’s not much time left, but if you order straight away there’s a good chance your shirt will arrive in time. And if it doesn’t, well you’ll still have a valuable piece of memorabilia to show your grandchildren.

At most THATCamps, participants are asked for a $20-30 voluntary contribution towards the cost of things like t-shirts and food. We decided it’d be easier if you just ordered your t-shirts direct (and yes there’s a modest %10 markup to go towards other costs). This way you get the shirt you want, in the size you want, and we don’t have to worry about handling any money. :-)

So support THATCamp Canberra and wear your shirt with pride!

Keep posting your ideas

August 15th, 2010 Comments Off

Thanks to those people who have started posting session ideas. With only two weeks to go, now’s the time to let fly with your thoughts. If you’re unsure what to suggest, have a look at the suggestions from THATCamp headquarters.

Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers. Perhaps you’ve got a problem you need help with, a project that you need feedback on, or an idea you want to test out with a friendly and supportive audience. We’re all at THATCamp to help and to learn.

If your idea connects up with something someone has already posted, then leave a comment and think about joining forces.

In the first THATCamp session we’ll build a schedule from the ideas that people have posted — voting if necessary to determine people’s preferences.

To add your own session proposal simply log in using the username and password you supplied when you registered. From the WordPress Dashboard just go to Posts > Add new. Remember to tick ‘Session proposal’ in the Categories box.

A Flickr/Bio Buildathon

August 8th, 2010 Comments Off

Well, you see I have this data… and I thought you might help me do something with it…

A few months ago I created the Flickr Machine Tag Challenge. This was intended as a concrete example of how we might use machine tags (aka triple tags) to add rich semantic links between resources. In this case, the machine tags identify people in Flickr photos (or the photographers) using identifiers from the National Library of Australia’s People Australia database. There are more details on the site.

Amazingly, since I launched the site, over 1000 machine tags have been added to Flickr.

Foolishly though, when I set it up I promised that I’d build something using all this data, but I haven’t quite got around to it yet. So I thought I’d see if anyone at THATCamp was interested in a mini-buildathon, where we start to sketch out what sort of app we might create and do a bit of hacking to pull a rough demo together. Along the way you’ll learn a bit about Flickr APIs, People Australia, machine tags and the possibilities of linking biographical data.

THATCamp groundrules

June 28th, 2010 § 1

What is THATCamp all about? Here’s some basic groundrules from one of the founders, Tom Scheinfeldt, Managing Director at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University:

  1. THATCamp is FUN – That means no reading papers, no powerpoint presentations, no extended project demos, and especially no grandstanding.
  2. THATCamp is PRODUCTIVE – Following from the no papers rule, we’re not here to listen and be listened to. We’re here to work, to participate actively. It is our sincere hope that you use today to solve a problem, start a new project, reinvigorate an old one, write some code, write a blog post, cure your writer’s block, forge a new collaboration, or whatever else stands for real results by your definition. We here to get stuff done.
  3. Most of all, THATCamp is COLLEGIAL – 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. So no nitpicking, no tweckling, no petty BS.

Read Tom’s post on his Found History blog.

Applications now open

June 9th, 2010 Comments Off

After much tinkering with the WordPress registration form, applications for THATCamp Canberra are now open, just fill in the application form.

Before submitting your details check out our latest information about the camp including the digital methods BootCamp and micro-fellowships.