Great Lakes THAT Camp bootcamps took place this Friday at the Michigan State University campus. During the day, I attended two bootcamps: Hacking WordPress and Copyright/Open Access Bootcamp. In this post, I’m going to discuss some of the skills and overall knowledge that I gleaned from my first ever day of THATCamp bootcamps.

Hacking WordPress Bootcamp

Wordpress Logo

Major Lesson: CSS, XAMPP, PhP and all those other acronyms aren’t as scary as they seem.

The requirement for this bootcamp was that we came in with XAMPP, a program that allows your personal computer to act as a server, and, a platform for blogging. Honestly, as I was downloading these onto my computer last night I had already decided that I would consider myself a success if I was able to just get the XAMPP to work at all. While it did take me about three tries to get XAMPP to happily speak with my computers (it seems that Windows doesn’t like XAMPP at all, and its important that your computer doesn’t have the User Account Control turned on) I was able to get my computer to act as a server and get working happily.

But it didn’t stop there! Then our group was able to successfully learn how to create our own template through editing CSS and PhP in Notepad ++. All of these acronyms and programs were completely new to me, and after three hours of plugging away it it with a group I now feel fairly comfortable with the technology. I’m amazing by how easy it actually was. There is a tendency to set up tech based knowledge as elite knowledge, but it isn’t anymore. This bootcamp (as well as this entire year in the CHI program) has been a great reminder that technology is very accessible, you just need to dive right in.

Here are some of the other minor lessons I took away from the wordpress bootcamp: if you aren’t sure how to write something like a template or CSS you can use others CSS as an example, when you don’t know something you should ask- you won’t be judged, and geeking out is fun (especially when twenty people are geeking out together).

Copyright/OA Bootcamp

Creative Commons Logo

Major Lesson: Through creativity, copyrights can be your friend.

This bootcamp had a number of mini talks within it and was more education based than skill based. A quick down and dirty summary of Copyright laws was the first presentation. So what copyright laws should you check out? 102: what subject matter is eligible, 106: what your rights are in controlling your work, 107: fair use limitations, and 108: the library and archive exemptions. Following this was a discussion of how archiving has changed in the digital world. A lot of projects we are doing in CHI are based around archives, and its important to understand the issues with this. For more on this issue see Micalee’s discussion of archives and copyright.Within these first few mini talks, the major takeaway was that we need to get to know the law, clearly display our own copyrights, and learn to use the copyright laws to your advantage. At the moment digital works and copyrights have moved far beyond the law, so there is flexibility if you understand your rights and restrictions.

One of the most important aspects was learning about Creative Commons. I only recently implemented a copyright on my personal blog using Creative Commons, although I can honestly say I didn’t quite understand it. Here are the basics: Attribution (little man) symbol means you can use the work but must cite the creator, restriction money symbol means you can’t use the work for commercial reasons, and equal sign means there can be no derivatives of the work. After discussing the spectrum and the reasons behind each of these symbols, I actually updated my own site to have a different set of Creative Commons copyrights.

Some of the minor lessons from this bootcamp: you should surround your archive/website/database with good facts and good people (i.e. scholars, archivists, and researchers), you can search in google based on licensing, and we need a set of standards or best practices for copyrights but until then look to see what other institutions and people are doing successfully.

Thanks to Jeff Siarto for leading the Hacking WordPress bootcamp, and Greg Grossmeier, Bobby Glushko and Lance Stuchell for the Copyright/OA bootcamp.

Feel free to add what you learned from today’s GLTHATCamp Bootcamps!