CHNM to host inaugural THATCamp, May 31 – June 1, 2008

CHNM is pleased to announce its latest initiative, THATCamp.

Short for “The Humanities and Technology Camp”, THATCamp is a BarCamp-style, user-generated “unconference” on digital humanities. THATCamp is organized and hosted by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, Digital Campus, and THATPodcast.

What is an “unconference”?

According to Wikipedia, an unconference is “a conference where the content of the sessions is created and managed by the participants, generally day-by-day during the course of the event, rather than by one or more organizers in advance of the event.” An unconference is not a spectator event. Participants in an unconference are expected to present their work, share their knowledge, and actively collaborate with fellow participants rather than simply attend. There are many styles of unconferences. The most famous is probably BarCamp, an international network of unconference events focused largely on open source web development.

What should I present?

That’s up to you. Sessions at THATCamp will range from full-blown papers (not many of those, we hope) to software demos to training sessions to debates to discussions of research findings to half-baked rants. You should come to THATCamp with something in mind, and on the first day find a time, a place, and people to (more…)

New ECHO Gateway for the History of Science, Technology, and Industry

The Center for History and New Media is pleased to announce the relaunch of the ECHO (Exploring and Collecting History Online) website. ECHO is a portal to over 5,000 websites concerning the history of science, technology, and industry. In addition to better helping researchers find the exact information they need and granting curious browsers a forum for exploration, the new site also provides access to the latest in blogging on the topics of digital history and histories of science, technology and industry.

The project is based at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. ECHO has been funded by two generous grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

CHNM and American Historical Association Announce New Prize

Roy Rosenzweig Prize in History and New Media Established in Professor’s Memory

The Center for History and New Media (CHNM) and the American Historical Association (AHA) have agreed to institute a joint “Roy Rosenzweig Prize in History and New Media.” The Rosenzweig Prize will be awarded annually for an innovative and freely available new media project that reflects thoughtful, critical, and rigorous engagement with technology and the practice of history.

Roy Rosenzweig died from cancer on 11 October 2007. He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and lectured as a Fulbright professor. As the AHA’s Vice President for Research, he urged the Association to open all book prizes to publications in new media form. The Rosenzweig Prize will be the first to specifically recognize contributions developed in digital form to the profession at large.

In 2005, Rosenzweig’s Web-based project, History Matters earned him and CHNM the James Harvey Robinson Prize of the American Historical Association. In 2003, he was awarded the second Richard W. Lyman Award for his work with CHNM, particularly History Matters and the September 11 Digital Archive.

The AHA and the CHNM together will select members of the prize selection committee and develop prize guidelines. The award winners will be announced (more…)

Cohen, Zotero appear in Washington Post

CHNM’s Zotero project and CHNM’s Director, Dan Cohen both appeared on Page A1 in Sunday’s Washington Post over the weekend. Entitled “Internet Access Is Only Prerequisite For More and More College Classes,” the front page article examined new trends in online education at institutions of higher learning across the country. Commenting on Zotero in particular and new campus technology initiatives in general, Cohen was quoted as saying “It’s part of this movement in higher education to open up … to share the products of our research, to be here for the public good.”

Zotero joins forces with Internet Archive, wins major grant

Although libraries have dedicated much of their time to scanning and cataloguing their materials for online access, both the expense and time of such projects have prevented many documents from being readily available.

Yet, in many cases, these documents have been scanned, copied or photographed by someone, somewhere. Virtually every professor, graduate student and author maintains major private caches of these materials from their own research. Biographers have scores of letters, pictures and ephemera. Architects and architectural historians have photographs of buildings from around the world. Scholars of literature have scanned diaries and manuscripts for insights into the writing process of those they study.

“This ‘hidden archive’ likely rivals existing online collections,” says Dan Cohen, director of the Center for History and New Media (CHNM). “We asked: What if there was a way to expose and share this tremendous hidden archive with scholars from around the globe?”

And now there is. CHNM has joined forces with the Internet Archive on a project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to provide what could potentially be the world’s largest structured archival and access environment for scholarly material.

Introduced last year as open-source software that works within the popular Firefox web browser, the CHNM’s Zotero stores (more…)

Omeka Hits Milestone

Omeka, CHNM’s new free and open source platform for publishing collections and exhibitions online, hit a major milestone with the launch of Release Candidate 4 (RC4). Designed for cultural institutions, enthusiasts, and educators, Omeka is easy to install and modify and facilitates community-building around collections and exhibits. It is designed with non-IT specialists in mind, allowing users to focus on content rather than programming.

Three months from its initial beta release, Omeka is already in use by institutions around the country, including the Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film and Virginia Tech’s April 16 Archive.

Omeka features:

  • Dublin Core metadata structure and standards-based design that is fully accessible and interoperable
  • Professional-looking exhibit templates that showcase collections without hiring outside designers
  • Theme-switching for changing the look and feel of an exhibit in a few clicks
  • Plug-ins for user contributions, batch upload, and a host of other possibilities
  • Web 2.0 Technologies, including tagging and syndication through RSS feeds.

Omeka is currently in private beta. If you are interested in getting on the invitation list to download and test Omeka, please email the Omeka team, which will notify you when there are additional spaces for this testing period. Omeka will be available for general public download in early-2008.

ScholarPress Launched

CHNM Creative Lead, Jeremy Boggs and CHNM Web Developer, Dave Lester have announced the launch of ScholarPress, a hub for educational WordPress plugins. ScholarPress currently features two plugins, Courseware and WPBook.

Courseware enables users to manage a class with a WordPress blog, including a schedule, bibliography, assignments, and other course information. Initially developed during the summer of 2006 with help from Josh Greenberg, former Associate Director of Research Projects, now the Director of Digital Strategy and Scholarship at the New York Public Library, Courseware has since been tested and used by several professors at George Mason University.

WPBook works with the Facebook Development platform to enable Facebook users to embed a WordPress Blog onto their Facebook page. WPBook works with Courseware to create a custom application allowing students to view syllabus information directly from Facebook.

A third plugin, Gradebook, will allow users to manage and display class grades securely to students. Gradebook is currently under development.

Moving Forward

Roy Rosenzweig co-founded the Center for History and New Media in 1994 and directed the Center until he passed away last month. In the early years, the Center was just Roy and a few others, but in the last seven years the number of projects, size of the staff, and overall ambition of the Center has grown exponentially. Presently there are over forty people working full or part time at CHNM on over two dozen active projects, from landmark history education projects like History Matters and the new National History Education Clearinghouse, important collections like the September 11 Digital Archive, and innovative software such as Zotero and Omeka.

Although we always joked that Roy could do the work of many people, among his many legacies was his realization that CHNM was built not on servers and software but on people and their passion for history and digital technology, and that despite his boundless energy he could not do it all. Over the past five years Roy assembled a senior staff with decades of combined experience in the construction of new media, and hired what we like to think is one of the most talented groups of web designers, programmers, and researchers in (more…)

Roy Rosenzweig: Memorial Events

Several memorial events are being planned to celebrate the life and work of CHNM’s beloved late director, Roy Rosenzweig, who passed away earlier this month after a valiant struggle with cancer. Details will be posted at, where friends, colleagues, and admirers may also post memories, stories, tributes, photos and other materials in celebration of Roy.