Friday, December 29, 2006

Between Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I was rather tied up these past few days, not unusual for this time of the year, but more so because I was following up on some last minute job leads. It is strange, but sometimes even the day before the holidays, some activity on the job front starts stirring. As usual, I have no idea where this new round of job leads will take me - a job offer or back to the drawing board.

Since being out of action, that is, out of the archives field and work environment, I have had to decrease the number of archives-related postings to just a very, very few. I'm sure this is understandable. But on the flip side I am certainly grateful to the numerous bloggers out there posting about their experiences in archives, digitization, and the web. It really is an exciting period, and I suspect 2007 will be more so as more people come on broad and more innovation is introduced and more collaboration is born.

Whether unemployment has gotten to my brain or my creative survival instincts have kicked in, I am busy Photoshopping - yes, the act of using Adobe's fabulous image-editing program, Photoshop, to create surreal images. I am making some images available on Flickr.


Good Luck, Dear Readers. I hope 2007 will be a happy, healthy, and prosperous year!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Google + NASA = A Match Made in the Heavens?

I wonder what will be the outcome between this Google and NASA partnership?

There are some rumours.

But, officially, the world will find out on Monday, December 17, 2006.

Keep you browsers glued here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Photoshop CS3 beta available

Adobe Labs has released a beta version of Photoshop CS3.

I know you are salivating already so go ahead and satisfy that urge:

http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/photoshopcs3/

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Question...

Why has the Iraq Study Group, a ten-person panel appointed by the United States Congress to analyze and propose concrete steps to calm the current sectarian chaos in war-torn Iraq, made its final report and recommendations available on Amazon?

Why is this report being sold alongside John Grisham's latest bestseller and weight loss books? Isn't this report a matter of national security meant specifically for US President George W. Bush?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Welcome to December

With all the warmer than usual temperatures we in southwestern Quebec are experiencing at the moment, the freezing rain was inevitable. Welcome to December.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Job Search: Update of an Update

Okay, I went on a little rant yesterday, complaining about how I found some institutions were very poor in responding to or updating candidates about their status in a given job competition.

The old biblical advice came in handy: Ask and ye shall receive.

I emailed the university and, a day later, a HR representative informed that the search committee was still reviewing all candidates.

With relief (for I had figured I had been eliminated), I told the person thanks for updating me.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Warning!













Created at Warning Label Generator.

Job Search: Whatever Happened to Common Courtesy and Professionalism

A few weeks ago, I had a library job interview with a university. As I reported back then, the telephone interview was a series of questions (6 in all) asked in quick succession.

After the interview, I was told that I would receive some kind of update before the end of the week. Well, you guessed it: I haven't heard any updates in two weeks - which leads me to today's short rant:

Why don't some of these institutions of higher education practice common courtesy and conduct themselves in a professional manner? I was courteous in responding to their job postings and professional in making myself available for their telephone interview. Why not show some reciprocity by contacting me or informing me that there was a delay? At least--at the very least--let me know and do not keep me in the dark.

Monday, November 20, 2006

More RSS Goodness

I noticed this evening that Google's BlogSearch website has introduced a a feature whereby a RSS feed is generated based on a search one performs. So if someone wants to know what the blogosphere has been saying about Topic ABC and enters Topic ABC into the search field, the keywords one enters becomes a RSS feed that can be used in a feed reader.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Get a Life! A Second Life!

After reading about it, after seeing people interviewed on television about it, I decided to take the plunge. I opened up an account on Second Life, the online virtual world that has a million+ subscribers abuzz with excitement. Make that a million and one, myself included.

Second Life is a fun, engaging, social game / experience. In a nutshell, you open a free account (paid accounts are available), download the client software, create your online persona (avatar) and then begin exploring the 3-D detailed landscapes, sonically-rich environments that fellow Second Life members have created. There are plenty of opportunities to interact with others and even buy and sell goods using the game's currency called Linden dollars (which can be purchased with US dollars. Not sure if Canadian currency is accepted yet). And that's just your first five minutes in world. There is more, much more.

A broadband connection is a must, and so is a well-equipped computer (PC or Mac). The Second Life download web page offers more information on specifications.

A word of caution: The world of Second Life, like reality, has its share of mature and questionable material. Proceed carefully and use good judgement.

Another word of caution: Second Life is highly addictive. Be sure to take breaks. And be sure to make time for real life (like job searching, ahem).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Job Interview: Update

The phone interview I had this afternoon went okay. It lasted 20 minutes, during which time I was asked 6 questions. The questions came fast and so did my answers. I answered them as best as I could, though with such rapid fire questions I wonder how much more new details the search committee could extract from me.

By the end of this week, I will hear of the search committee's decision, that is, whether I continue with the process with a campus visit or, well, if it's the end of the line.

Not one to hold one's breath, I am preparing the next round of my job board scanning.

I still have an open invitation to those blog readers out there; those who read this blog on a daily basis or have found this blog through the power of syndication, I welcome any or all queries regarding employment opportunities. My resume is posted; just click the link.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Job Interview

Tomorrow afternoon, I have a job interview with a university located in the United States. I haven't had many--perhaps only one, if I recall correctly--interviews with universities south of the border, so this is sort of an extra added bonus of nerves for me. I suppose the interview process should be similar to Canadian procedures.

Anyway, the position sounds interesting enough, and seems to fit within my background and area of experience. We'll see, and I'll keep you, DA Reader, fully updated.

It's no surprise that, with the imminent conclusion of my current web project, the pressure is on to land another job. But this time around I want to feel enthusiastic and energized about any new position I apply to. Not just applying for a job, but a real step forward to securing a career, a vertical move rather than a horizontal one. I believe after all these years of casual, contract, and part-time contract work, it's time to let this MLIS degree take flight.

Speaking of librarian folk looking for work, I came across Young Librarian, a blog written by Katie, an under-30 recent MLIS grad looking for work. Good insights for those who are unemployed or employed but actively seeking a better job in this field.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Squirl: My Little (online) Archive

Do you collect stuff? I collect stuff, and I have one rather bizarre collection of items that I bet you wouldn't guess what they are in a million years. Okay, I'll give you a few minutes...Give up?

I collect old transit passes. Yes, transit passes. You know, those flimsy plastic cards that one uses to board the bus, the metro (subway for non-Montrealer readers), and commuter trains.

Since 1995 I've been collecting these things. So what should I do with them in light of the Social Web 2.0? Let them be known on a website called Squirl.

I was contacted by John McGrath, creator of Squirl, who described his website project as "a personal archiving tool." Essentially, Squirl is doing for collectors what Flickr is doing for amateur and professional photographers. It's giving people a chance to share the stuff they collect with others and thus creating a community of like-minded collectors. Sounds fun.

Perhaps there is life for my old transit passes after all.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Cablecos, Web editions, x-mas e-retail, Internet study

Cablecos

My Internet Service Provider (ISP), Montreal-based cable giant Videotron, is expressing its concern over bandwidth costs and who should pay.

From the Hamilton Spectator: "With video and music downloads gobbling up Internet bandwidth at an ever-expanding pace, cable company Videotron is pushing for content providers such as movie studios to share some of the cost to expand broadband pipelines.
Videotron boss Robert Depatie said yesterday his Quebecor-owned telecom company will invest $300 million in 2006 because the average Videotron customer uses four times more bandwidth than just a year ago. He wants the federal government to impose a transmission tariff on content providers. He called it unfair for studios and companies such as Apple and Amazon.com to use that extra service without cost -- which he compared to free shipping."

Web Editions

According to a Washington Post article, the newspaper industry frets about its future but finds revenue growth in online web editions. The consumer web is splitting: content creators and content distribution. Soon it won't really matter how--that is, which media you will use--to read your news. That will change. But content creation will remain a constant. There will always be a need to create comprehensive, in-depth, analytical content.

X-Mass e-retail

With the Christmas / holiday season upon us, retailers, particular e-retailers, are preparing their wares to respond to customer needs, some better than others, it appears. From the Montreal Gazette, there are still some bricks and mortar retailers who still don't get e-commerce. Nevermind the technology part. It's the customer experience that needs re-working. Amazon.com (as usual) was cited as an ideal model for other retailers to follows.

Internet Study

Sir Tim Berners-Lee (aka Sir Tim), inventor of the WWW, made some comments that reflect comments I made in a recent Letter to the Editor. Berners-Lee argues that the impact that the web is having on technology, communication, society should be critically studied in order to insure the safe survival of the medium he invented.

I agree. Compared to television, the Web is a relatively new form of media whose impact on society has yet to be examined. I brought up this matter in a Letter to the Editor I wrote in the aftermath of the tragic shootings at Montreal's Dawson College, where a gun-totting maniac, obsessed with his own online ranting and ravings, shot several students, killing one. We don't know how the web is changing us as society, as individuals when access to almost anything is available one or two keystrokes away.

The DIGITAL Archive, version 3.0

I have not posted anything in a long, long time, and I can explain the reasons why in one brief word: busy. Yes, busy with this and that, most of which pulled me away from the blogosphere and pinned me into the area of, well, using one's computer for business purposes only.

After I left McGill back in March of this year, I took on a web re-design project at the Montreal General Hospital, where I have been busy re-building the Medical and Nurses' libraries' websites from the ground up. It's been a challenging and exhilarating project, filled with ups and downs, triumphs and numerous "head-scratching-in-puzzlement" moments. Anyway, the web project is nearing completion, and I am pleased to bring closure to it. And I hope to bring you the URLs as soon as the websites are launched.

Another issue that has consumed much of my time is my often mentioned job search. I had a reasonably positive summer. I had three very good interviews with institutions that were not universities (kind of a change for me since I believe the university is my environment of choice). The interviews went very well--I felt I expressed my skills, knowledge and experience in a clear and confident manner. I believe I am really improving in this area.

While the interviews went well, they did not move on to the next level, which was hard at first to accept but in time I slowly became aware of the silver lining to all of them. Like I said, I believe I am getting better and better at communicating my skills, experience and knowledge and the value I can bring to a potential employer. It's really a matter of time before I land a job. Patience and persistence...and a little bit of luck and that proverbial "big break."

As I write this (Fall sunlight beaming through my windows, a cup of tea on my desk, Dreamweaver 8 humming along with final website edits in place, a portal radio I received as a gift from TIME magazine tuned to CJAD), I am becoming aware that The DIGITAL Archive, originally conceived as a blog chronicling the progress and findings of a project, is evolving all the time. Even as it lay dormant, it is evolving, changing, its focus sharpening on other areas, much in the same weird way as its author.

I, too, am changing; professionally, I don't know if "Archives / Records Management" is the most appropriate receptacle to hold the depth of interests I have in other areas, specifically the web, information, content development, content dissemination, etc. I feel as though I am in some sort of professional transition.

To this end, I believe The DIGITAL Archive will continue to evolve. It may or may not focus on digitization or digital projects (although these areas are still very close to my interests). It may tackle work (once I land a better, more stable position, of course). I would like to report on my current work, but so much of it nowadays is HTML this and that, nothing I believe worth blogging about. I will write about those web-related items that resonate with me.

So to all my readers (yes, all two of you, plus those subscribed to my feed) hang in there. I am still writing, still blogging. The content may be different, more eclectic, but I still hope you will continue to click my link whenever you get the chance.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2006

RSS Headphones


RSS-headphone
Originally uploaded by Poldo™.
Here's reason #475 to love Flickr: Graphic artists creating their works of digital art and publishing them on Flickr.

This user's name is Poldo.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Google Toolbar 4.0: Surprise!!



I fired up the old Internet Explorer 6 this evening when I was almost startled by a Google pop-up. Google Toolbar 4.0 now installed. Pretty fancy. New functionality that takes advantage of users with Google Account: Bookmarks, search histories, search-specific button downloads (this seemingly insignificant new feature, which can search specific sites, may prove to be the most ingenious of all), and more. Still haven't checked it out completely.

If you have the Google Toolbar already installed, then the new version should be appearing on a browser near you.

YouTube: A Digital Archive of Retro Music Videos

2 words: Def Leppard.

Song title: Photograph.

Music video via YouTube: Click here.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Microsoft prepares "Expression Web" software

So long MS FrontPage.

Hello Expression Web, er, Expression Web...?

From Steve Bryant's InterMedia comes the hard news: Microsoft's FrontPage file format bows out and makes room for Expression Web web design software, now in beta.

Bryant writes, "It's [Expression Web] much smoother and intuitive than Dreamweaver, which suffers from years of legacy code."

Should Adobe Dreamweaver be worried?

News: Google launches news archive search

Today I read that Google launched something called Google News Archive Search.

According to the BBC News website, Google News Archive Search "allows users to explore existing digitised newspaper articles spanning the last 200 years and more recent online content."

News archive, eh.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

When will Web browsing get interesting again?

I asked myself this question last night after reading a BBC article that discussed a new web browser. While the web browser in question, called Browzar, which claims to provide increased anonymity to users while on the Web, has received at least one review disputing its anonymity claim, the thought of a new web browser nonetheless filled me with some excitement.

Since I was in the download and test mood, I visited the Browzar site and downloaded the free web browser. It requires no installation. I downloaded the software right onto my Iomega Mini USB drive and double-clicked the Browzar icon.

This is the home page screen shot:



As you can see, Browzar is very bare-bones: no bells, no whistles, no fancy widgets, either. Just the basics: "Back" and "Forward" navigation buttons, "Home" and "Print" buttons, as well as a URL address and search fields. I suppose this is the price one pays for anonymity.

I am not an overly technical guy, but I suspect this browser is really a sort of Internet Explorer prophylactic - it protects one's identity while still using Internet Explorer's page rendering engine.

Before making any recommendations, I would rather and wait what the larger community of users has to say about Browzar's anonymity claims.

Coming back to my original question: When will web browsing get interesting again?

Back when Firefox was released, I was ecstatic . What a breath of fresh air. This browser demonstrated what integrating new tools and extensibility could do for web browsers. Despite a lag in innovative changes in recent releases, Firefox still remains a powerful browser.

Now we wait for Microsoft Internet Explorer 7. I do not know its release date, but I do know that it will be available to Windows users "as as a high-priority update via Automatic Updates." [Source: Microsoft]. According to the IE 7 official blog, IE 7 will include many new tools and functionality (some of which I am sure we have seen in Firefox).

As we wait and see, I wonder:
  1. When will we see a web browser that becomes a unique expression of the user?
  2. When will we see a browser that gives users a solid and secure framework in which we can create, design, and interact with the web in ways that we define and tailor to our needs?

With several companies competing, perhaps the bigger question is who? Who will deliver the next-gen web browser?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Welcome to September

As I flipped my wall calendar from August to September, I was struck by how fast the summer months had passed. It seems like only a few weeks ago we were starting the balmy month of July. And now look: September 1st. Labour Day Weekend. Time flies, folks. Tempus fugit.

------

Yesterday, August 31, was Blog Day. I wasn't aware of this celebration, but the idea of celebrating blogging by recommending 5 new blogs to readers sounds like fun. So here goes:

  1. SpellboundBlog.com - Is an archives-oriented blog by Jeanne Kramer-Smyth, an archives student at the University of Maryland. I found SpellboundBlog via Mike A. Matienzo's super-cool ArchivesBlogs aggregator blog.



  2. Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth - I just starting reading this blog, which talks about the Digital Divide, and I find it quite interesting. The author, Andy, has recently accepted a new job at the Public Broadcast Service [Correction: I goofed. He currently writes a blog at PBS. His new job is with National Public Radio (NPR). Thanks, Andy!], working on some Web 2.0 technologies. His writing style is what got me hooked.



  3. Publish.com - "News and opinion on Web 2.0, online media and graphics tools." Not a blog per se, but a website with tons of web-related goodies, current and emerging technologies and trends. The website does offer a RSS feed.



  4. Intermedia - A blog written by Publish.com associate editor Steve Bryant, who writes about multimedia and web. A lot of what Bryant discusses on his blog will in some way impact the Web. Always good to stay ahead of the curve.



  5. Finally, for those interested in good web design and web technology blogs (with tips and techniques), here are a few: Adam Kalsey, Cameron Moll, and TechCrunch (mostly web news).

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

OT: Weekend Ottawa Trip

This past weekend I visited a friend who is studying in our nation’s capital. When I arrived in Ottawa on a bright, blue-sky sunny Saturday morning, I was immediately struck by how much the city had changed since the last time I visited the place.

Back then, perhaps 3-4 years ago, as a wet-behind the ears archivist headed to an interview at one of our nation’s finer institutions, Ottawa was typical Ottawa: Parliament Hill with its tourists and large, dull government buildings with its thousands of anonymous civil servants with their government employee ID cards hanging from their necks. There were only a few subtle hints—and I mean subtle—that there was something, some new construction, coming on the horizon.

(BTW, the cataloguing position for which I interviewed didn't work out.)

Those faint hints of new construction are now loud and clear…as clear as the number of construction cranes and the numerous new apartments and condominium complexes I spotted while walking around Byward Market, Ottawa’s trendy market and dining area. Even the University of Ottawa appears to have had a face lift: new buildings, new grounds.

This is by no means a Fodor or Lonely Planet evaluation of the city. But I can assure you Ottawa is changing.

I spent a good portion of the day visiting the National Gallery of Canada, whose outside plaza is dominated by a huge sculpture of a spider. It’s a piece called Maman, by artist Louise Bourgeois. Very alien-looking, very bizarre. Like something out of a first-person shooter computer game (think Half-Life). The Gallery has a live webcam overlooking the plaza.

Inside the Gallery, however, was a formidable collection of fine and contemporary art. I’m no art connoisseur, but I certainly enjoyed walking the quiet halls and taking pictures of a few items that caught my eye.

One digitization-related item: As I wandered from room to room, looking at the paintings and sculptures, I thought about how one would go about digitizing such a huge collection. The National Gallery created an art education and research site called CyberMuse, which includes a large collection of digitized images, with comprehensive information highlighting particular works of art. Good stuff.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Yaaay! The DIGITAL Archive is no longer a spam blog!

For several months, The DIGITAL Archive was considered by Blogger's spam sniffers a spam blog. As a result, I had to deal with a CAPTCHA security feature whenever I would post to this blog.

This week I decided to extricate myself from this predicament by requesting that Blogger review my blog and have it removed from its spam blog list.

The Blogger Team emailed me this morning, notifying me of what I had already suspected: that The DIGITAL Archive was not in fact a spam blog.

Good riddance to CAPTCHA rubbish!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Interesting People, Interesting Blogs (Part 5)

While doing the usual ego-surfing, er, I mean web browsing, I came across the following blog that cited my active archives-related blogs (the one you are reading now and another called arch.i.vi.us).

I hereby present the "interesting people, interesting blog" to ArchivesBlogs, "a collection of blogs by and for archivists." It was developed and is maintained by Mark A. Matienzo.

I like the concept and I like the blog, for it reflects an "Archives 2.0" attitude that is desperately needed in the archival field. Essentially, ArchivesBlogs syndicates content from blogs that discuss archives and archival issues of importance and relevance to archivists.

Also, kudos to Mark for tinkering around with a web application called Plagger, which powers ArchivesBlogs. Perhaps he should write and make available documentation so that non-technical archivists can start something similar.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Before & After: MGH Medical Library redesign

For the benefit of those not completely in the loop, I began a web redesign project at the Montreal General Hospital in late March, early April 2006.

I was responsible for redesigning the Medical and Nurses' Libraries websites, both of which were very information-rich but in need of a architectural and page layout makeover.

Fast forward to late July 2006, the newly redesigned websites were moved to a test server, where they remain as we review and revise content.

I took a screen shot of the current and new Medical Library websites and combined the images to compare and contrast their before and after states.

No firm launch date yet.

But stay tuned to The DIGITAL Archive for any and all updates.

Sunday Thought

Sometimes a rainy day is just as good as a sunny one.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Google News, In Living Colour

It's been a while since I have seen a new Web 2.0-ish technology worthy of a posting.

Introducing Newsmap, a website that displays Google News in a treemap information space.

Rather than attempt to explain the website (especially at this late hour), I will let the concept person behind Newsmap, Marco Weskamp, explain in his own words:

"Newsmap is an application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator. A treemap visualization algorithm helps display the enormous amount of information gathered by the aggregator. Treemaps are traditionally space-constrained visualizations of information. Newsmap's objective takes that goal a step further and provides a tool to divide information into quickly recognizable bands which, when presented together, reveal underlying patterns in news reporting across cultures and within news segments in constant change around the globe."

Visit Newsmap.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Lightning Strikes Back!

Montreal has been under high heat and high humidity levels for the past several days. Last night, those hot conditions slammed into a cold front, producing a violent thunderstorm the likes of which I have not seen (or heard) in a long time.

Like something alien in the distance, the ominous and sickly-looking black clouds moved across the sky, flashing lightning and sometimes shooting a few jagged bolts down to Earth.

Once the storm reached us, the rain and wind picked until the rain itself began to blow diagonally, sometimes horizontally, and the trees were whipped into a twisting and swaying dance.

The storm eventually past. Nature had run its course, perpetually moving ahead in its slow, detached but knowing way. There was quiet once again. More so for those who had lost power...and the hum of fans and air-conditioners.

I heard this morning that several hundred thousand people had no power. To be without power--without a fan or air-conditioner--on this hot and humid day....God help us.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Coming and Going

It appears that my Alma mater at the McGill Graduate School of Library and Information Studies are looking for a Professional Associate to teach a graduate-level course ("Web Design and Management") and to maintain the School's IT lab.

I know the person who has held on to this position for the past couple of years, and I am pleased to hear that he is moving on. On a personal note, this person also helped me land my first LIS-related job at the McGill University Archives.

In other news--good news, thankfully--I almost fell out of my computer chair when I read that Ed Bilodeau will be moving to Ottawa, Ontario, with his wife-to-be Nathalie, to work as a Web Administrator at Carleton University. Congratulations, Ed! That's great news!

I know a few faithful readers out there may be wondering: "That is great news - but what about you, O Great DIGITAL Archive blogger? How are things on the job search front?"

Nothing much new to report.

But I will tell you the honest truth: The more positive news I read from fellow bloggers, the more clearer the path ahead looks to me in terms of career direction, relocation plans, and so on. The good news makes it no less easy in solving problems, of course, but somehow it gives a new perspective to resolving them.

In the meantime, I am almost finished with the hospital libraries' website re-design project. In a few weeks time, I hope to post a URL to them once they are placed on a production server.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Did you know: Adobe Acrobat a RSS reader

If you have Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.0, follow these steps:

1. From the menu bar select Comments --> Tracker...

2. A Tracker window opens up. From the menu bar on the Tracker window select Services --> Subscribe

3. A new pop-window opens asking you to insert a RSS feed URL

4. Voila! RSS news feed in Adobe Acrobat. You can even convert a news items to PDF. Select Services --> Convert to PDF

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

GIS Junkies!

GIS (Geographical Information System) junkies listen up! (And all you Google Maps addicts out there lend an ear as well.)

Natural Resources Canada's Canadian Forest Service (CFS) has launched (in typical quiet low-brow Canadian fashion) an online service called Forest Fire in Canada.

It is a powerful information system that combines the power of geographical information-gathering and remote-sensing of ground activities to create a comprehensive picture of forest fires occurring across North America.

It's no longer just about fighting fires - it's about fire management. Knowing and understanding how forest fires will affect the socio-economical landscape of the country.

Check it out: Forest Fire in Canada.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Job Search: Preliminary Results

A few weeks ago (or perhaps a few months ago - I'm not so sure now), I wrote a post about my intentions of using this blog to establish a network of colleagues in order to find a job in the library / information management field. It was an experiment, of sorts, to test the power of the blog.

I gave a brief description of my background, and I also uploaded my resume to give people a chance to view my skills, knowledge and work experience.

While the experiment is still on-going, I have decided to examine some of the preliminary results:

One person, so far, has responded directly to my resume. This particular person, it should be noted, shares an interest in digitization and digital projects. I thank her for taking the time to respond and for providing me with further information.

This is worth reflecting on for a minute, for it demonstrates how a blog should be used in order to effectively network. Here are my thoughts:

1. Don't give up; keep blogging; have a topic in mind

Like our solar system, populated with its nine distinct planets, a blog can be filled with several different topics. But it is always a good idea to have one topic--one sun, if you will--around which everything else revolves.

Topic-specific or project-specific blogs (as this one, The DIGITAL Archive, used to be and still yearns to be) garner a fair share of attention because they focus on topics that are, professionally-speaking, of interest to people in the same field, in the same area of research. If one can use one's blog to contribute to the larger blogosphere discourse on a particular topic, chances are that blog networking opportunities will arise.

2. Building a blog network takes time.

Rome was not built in a day, nor will a blog's audience. It requires time and effort as well as patience.

3. Mention and cite blogosphere colleagues.

Frequently we come across a blog post that resonates with us. We consider and even savour the post's contents. Why not simply mention the post and the blogger's name the next time we make our own post? Let them know we read their post, and in turn they will know we are out there.

I think we all, from time to time, do a bit of "egosearching" (the act of searching for references to one's blog, as Gary McGath aptly put it), and in doing so we do indeed find more people with similar interests who have cited us in their blog. Our blog network grows.

4. Blogs are for sharing and communicating information.

This is worth repeating: Blogs are for sharing and communicating information. We are social creatures always seeking new ways to express ourselves. Blogs are a new and highly interconnected way of doing so.

Stick with the basics - blog about what stirs your enthusiasm - and amazing things will happen!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Slow news day?

Apologies for not posting too much new material lately.

The web re-design project that I am currently working on is in full swing and taking up most of my time.

"No, it's much better to face these kinds of things with a sense of poise and rationality"

The NHL Stanley Cup finals ended last night Monday, with the Carolina Hurricanes seizing Lord Stanley's famed trophy after beating the Edmonton Oilers in 7 hard-fought games.

Coming from a huge hockey town as Montreal, I want to send my congratulations to the people of Raleigh and all fans of the Hurricanes - it was definitely a series filled with skill, talent, and lots of heart.

So rather than rant and rave over the fact that a Canadian team was unable to take home the Cup, I will, as that Panic! At the Disco song goes, "face these these kinds of things with a sense of poise and rationality."

Monday, June 05, 2006

Job Search: Technical Snafu Solved

A special thank you goes out to Jill Hurst-Wahl (blog: Digitization 101) who pointed out to me that the link I posted directing users to my resume was in reality sending folks to an error message web page rather than to my illustrious (read: humble) resume.

Seems like the hosting company I used changed its policies.

No fear. The experiment continues, now with help from Google Pages. Yes, Google. We cannot escape them.

For those interested, my resume is (for the time being) here.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Web: CBC.ca redesign!

Browsing along the information highway in attempts to find more news on the 17 terror suspects arrested in Toronto early Saturday morning, I came across the new and improved CBC.ca website.

After 6 years, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation along with its French counterpart, Radio-Canada, have undergone a website face lift. Looks good. Fancier than before. But a little crowded.

See for yourself: CBC.ca or Radio-Canada.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Remembering our Veterans

One of the last (and perhaps most gratifying) projects I worked on before I resigned from McGill was a physical and virtual exhibit on McGill students and staff who served during the Second World War, a project that coincided nicely with 2005's "Year of the Veteran" in Canada.

The project culminated on November 11, 2005, Remembrance Day, when a moment of silence was observed and the exhibit revealed, both online and inside McGill's famous Arts Building.

I wrote a brief announcement (a few weeks later, it seems) about that day's events. The virtual exhibit, meanwhile, is still available online.

All that to say, today, I heard on the news (courtesy of CJAD radio) that the Quebec Government will rename a major Montreal highway to "Remembrance Highway" in honour of our veterans' service and sacrifice. Awesome!

Quebec Government is renaming Highway 20 to Rememberance Highway

If you're heading home to the West island right now there's a good chance you're taking "Autoroute du Souvenir."

What the heck is "Remembrance Highway" you ask?

It's what Highway 20 used to be called.

The Quebec Government is renaming Highway 20 between the Turcot yards and the Ontario border in honour of our veterans.

The Quebec Provincial Command of the Royal Canadian Legion says they've been fighting for the change.

The name change is immediate but no word on when the new signs will go up.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Interesting People, Interesting Blogs (Part 4)

I found yet another noteworthy blog. File Formats Blog is a blog by Gary McGath, a Digital Library Software Engineer at Harvard University Libraries. His blog focuses on "news and comments about technical issues relating to file formats, file validation, and archival software."

If you are interested in the digital preservation of file formats and examining solutions that will (hopefully) stand the test of time, then this is a blog for you.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Interesting People, Interesting Blogs (Part 3)

I came across yet another interesting blog; it is called "Annoyed Librarian." According to its author, the Annoyed Librarian blog "satirizes librarians, librarianship, and the ALA [American Library Association]."

This blog is by far one of the most witty, sharp, acidic, satirical--and essentially politically-incorrect--blogs about librarianship that I have ever come across.

The writer is clearly articulate and systematic in her (the writer is female) critique of the field of librarianship. Everything from library school and MLS degrees to job postings and salaries are examined in a tongue-in-cheek but ultimately brutal manner.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

What's up with Blogger?

I know this may sound as though I am biting the hand that feeds me (or, rather, make that, the provider that allows me to blog), but I find that Blogger has been plagued by problems lately.

Last night I was unable to save some changes I made to my blog's settings. That problem, thankfully, was resolved this morning. Meanwhile, I cannot use the BlogThis! feature when I come across an interesting article, new items, or whatever that coincides with my research for this blog or for archivius. And there have been other issues as well, mainly dealing with blog publishing problems.

One valuable website to keep in mind is Blogger Status - it keeps bloggers up to date on problems, fixes, and other maintenance issue occurring in Blogger land.

Another valuable resource is Blogger Forum - a forum for bloggers, specifically Blogger users.

I don't know if Blogger intends on buying new servers or what, but I certainly think a thorough review of the system is in order.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Blog Power: My Job Search

Since March of this year, right after my departure from McGill, I have been trying to secure a sense of direction--a sense of mission--for both my career as well as for The DIGITAL Archive. I have been thinking about both of them, and came to the conclusion that perhaps both could benefit from each other.

Therefore, I will endeavor to test the power of the blog.

I hereby make my intentions known to my readers: I am looking for employment. Yes, a full time library/archives/information center job. Sounds nuts, this approach. But, why not.

Here are my 3 main assets (a more detailed list can be read on my resume):
  1. I have a professional master's degree (MLIS)
  2. IT skills, with a focus on web design
  3. 5 years work experience in a large university library and archive
Furthermore, I worked on several cutting-edge projects in the realm of digitization and digital preservation (please see my resume).

I covered several important and emerging areas during my tenure such digital asset management, records management and digital content policies (please see my resume).

I increased the visibility of my department by creating an aesthetically-pleasing, engaging, and comprehensive web presence (please visit the website I designed and managed at McGill to gain a clearer picture).

In each case, I brought to my role and my areas of responsibility dedication and, in all honesty, I real sense of innovation, of thinking differently in the face of old problems and new challenges (please see my resume).

Bottom line is: I'm looking for an opportunity to contribute meaningfully and learn.

So is everyone else, right? Well, that's why I'm testing the power of the blog. I don't know how many readers I have. Maybe I only have one constant reader. According to my little ClustrMap widget down on the left column, I have visitors--potentially readers--from North America and across the globe. Maybe someone knows someone who knows someone who is, say, working in a college or university, and is looking to hire a qualified person with the skills I have.

Maybe...

This is an experiment. So let's give it a go.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Thinkfree: Freedom to Office anywhere?

On a wet rainy day like this (at least in this part of the Canadian woods), I am glad I came across a new Web gem (via Will Richardson's Weblogg-ed): it's called Thinkfree.

According to the company's website, "ThinkFree is the leader in next-generation productivity solutions for platform independent, anytime, anywhere-computing. ThinkFree usability extends beyond PCs and is perfect for Internet-connected devices, including thin client and mobile computing platforms."

The company also explains that its online software can create 100% compatible Microsoft Office documents.

Besides that, it appears that you can add documents to your blogs and append your Flickr images to your documents as well. Cool.

I haven't registered yet. I'll will give it a try soon. But, in the meantime, if you do register, let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Blog editor tool for Firefox

I am always interested in testing and using new software. Case in point: Performancing, a Firefox extension that allows bloggers to post directly to their blog from their Firefox browser.

Well, let's give it a try.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday Fun: Korean Scientists Develop Female Android


From the Korea Times (yes, I read 'em all), this perfect Friday afternoon story (at least for a sf/futurist guy like me):

Korean Scientists Develop Female Android

Friday, April 28, 2006

Interesting People, Interesting Blogs (Part 2)

I came across a few more bloggers that I believe are worth reading.

What I Learned Today... is a blog by Nicole C. Engard. She explains that her blog is about "Web 2.0 and programming tips from a library web manager." It covers "blogs, rss, wikis, php programming and more as they relate to libraries." A lot of good techie stuff.

For readers out there who speak and read French, I came across Figoblog, a blog about the Internet, librarianship, and "la confiture de figues." (Rough translation: fig jam.)

Figoblog appears to be based in France, but he/she is fully immersed in what's going on around the world regarding digitization and digital preservation (hey, Figoblog even linked to my post on the preservation of blogs.)

Aaahh, the power of blogs.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Interesting People, Interesting Blogs

In between scanning job sites and updating my resume this morning (ho-hum), I came across a blog by Eric Lease Morgan, Head of the Digital Access and Information Architecture Department at the University Libraries of Notre Dame (bio here).

Morgan's Infomotions, Inc. blog/consulting website offers some interesting insights--or musings, as he calls them--on library technology and its impact on delivering information.

More writings:

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Career Reinvention

I read an interesting article in the Montreal Gazette's "Working" section the other day ( Saturday, April 22, 2006) called "Dive right in."

The article focuses on and discusses the points mentioned in a career planning book titled Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career by Herminia Ibarra, a former teacher at Harvard University, now a teacher at INSEAD, an international business school in Fountainbleau, France.

Ibarra's argument runs contrary to traditional career advice; she recommends that people wanting a career change or wishing to reinvent their career paths should go out there and do it rather than plan every little detail before acting (lest paralysis by analysis settles in, that's my additional opinion).

Considering the career roller-coaster ride that I am currently on (I resigned from my job in March, am now working as an independent web consultant and web designer at a downtown hospital, but still looking for better), I think the article, the book, and the thoughts the author puts forward are well worth mentioning in The DIGITAL Archive.

I suspect this blog may have a few library or archival studies students, as well as a number of established librarians, archivists, and information professionals, who may be seeking a (new) career direction or who are in the midst of reinventing their careers.

I think this post will be worth your time.

Before I dive in to the "Dive right in" article (no pun intended), I want thank one blogger by the name of Will Richardson whose educational blog Weblogg-ed: the read/write web in the classroom first shed light (to me at least) on the concept of reinventing one's career. Browse on over to his February 7, 2006 posting in which he announces his decision to leave his current job to pursue "(a)nother path, one that I hope leads to satisfying, engaging, urgent work. Urgent work."

I really like that line!

OK, now on to the Montreal Gazette article...I wish I could add a URL here, but unfortunately the Gazette has locked this article, making it only available to online subscribers.

For those with access to an online newspaper database, try searching for "Dive right in" and "Strategies to reinvent your career" by Donna Nebenzahl, Montreal Gazette, Saturday, April 22, 2006.

Herminia Ibarra, author of Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career, suggests 9 "unconventional" strategies for reinventing one's career.
  1. Act, then reflect - You cannot discover yourself by introspection. (I think French author Albert Camus made this point in his novella The Outsider).
  2. Flirt with yourselves - Stop trying to find your one true self, she recommends. Test out your various selves, your various ideas, in the real world, where concrete behaviour and feedback give you new insights.
  3. Live the contractions - A little unclear this one, but she suggests one allows oneself to oscillate between holding on and letting go of ideas when in the midst of transition.
  4. Make big changes in small steps - Don't make big sudden changes, she argues. Like the construction of a sky-scraper, take one small step at a time in re-building your career.
  5. Experiment with new roles - Try out new roles or styles of working by pursuing them as extracurricular activities. Vary experiments as much as possible to get as much feedback as possible.
  6. Find people who are what you want to be - Look for role models.
  7. Don't wait for a catalyst - Don't wait for some big event to reveal your true calling (dang, no Luke Skywalker moment, folks). Use everyday events to find meaning in your transition period and soon clarity will occur.
  8. Step back, but not for too long - Take a break from the norm and away from that which is familiar. A day's hike or doing something that removes you from the usual surroundings are useful moments to reflect.
  9. Seize windows of opportunities - Take advantage of windows of opportunities as they open.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Time for some R and R

I noticed that I have not been posting much lately.

Perhaps there's not a lot to say at the moment. Perhaps the DIGITAL Archive is undergoing some growing pains (the DIGITAL Archive was a project-based blog, detailing a specific project I once worked on while employed in the McGill University Archives).

Maybe that could be the reason.

Or perhaps it's just a slow news day, as they say in the journalism business.

Well, rather than filling this space with, well, filler, I think I will take some time to off - a break from the blogosphere.

Actually, make that a break from blogging - I will still find time to read other people's blogs since I find those I subscribe to interesting and informative.

Also, there is still work to be done: the medical library website re-design project continues. As well as my on-going job search.

It's been touch and go--the job search, that is--since March 3, 2006, the day I ended my time at McGill. Not sure why it's been so rough. It's been tough enough that I often wonder and question my future in the archival/library/information field. As far as I am concerned, librarianship is a difficult field to enter, a tough nut to crack.

Although I feel a little discouraged, I nonetheless hate ending a post on a negative note.

It's Spring out there, folks. The sun stays out longer, the grass is getting greener - at least in this part of the Western hemisphere.

Time to take some r&r: a little rest and relaxation.

Surely, summer--and brighter days--is right around the corner.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Blog Item: Health Problems Related to the Geek Lifestyle

If you suffer from the following health conditions, you might be a geek:

1. Poor Sleeping Habits
2. Headaches
3. Back Pain
4. Poor Attention Span

More >>

Health Problems Related to the Geek Lifestyle » Carotids.Com

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

...And we're back!

Yes, I am back, after several days away from the blogosphere; and I am back with a very good posting that I read on Jill Hurst-Wahl's Digitization 101 blog.

The posting focuses on non-traditional career paths for librarians. It's a nice piece, full of insight and information for librarians and information professionals who seek to pursue a, well, non-traditional career path.

Overall, the posting covers a lot ground, but it's all good.

With my university archives experience and now my web design work in a medical library, I definitely fit the description of someone wanting a career path that differs from the norm - one that realizes the value of information, embraces technology in its many evolving forms, and makes a connection with and helps people along the way.

I truly believe this library/information field is going through some major changes and challenges. On the one hand, the future of the field is dependent on it transforming itself to face new realities; but, on the other hand, are library school's across Canada and the United States teaching the next-generation set of skills, let alone aware of them?

I wrote about this in an article that was published in the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Spectrum magazine (October 2001). (Shameless plug.)

On a side note, the Digitization 101 posting also mentions an article in Searcher magazine (July/August 2002) called "A Resume that Works." That article (and the entire issue, for that matter), is one of the best information professional magazines I have read. Try and find a copy!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Rusty Gears Turn Slowly

CREAK!! HTML.....HEAD......TITLE.....

CREEEEAAAK!! #container {width: 770 px...

You hear those rusty web design gears turning? I sure did since starting a new web re-design project at one of McGill's affiliated teaching hospitals (part of the super-hospital entity known as the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC)).

All last week they were slowly turning and shedding bits of rust in my head as I sat down I talked with the head librarian of the Medical Library and reviewed his website plans.

I will need to give myself a few days or even a few weeks to become re-acquainted with the technicalities and peculiarities of HTML and CSS.

Still, I cannot help but sense that same feeling, which prompted me to leave my previous job, slowly stirring in my gut, cautioning me that this project is but a pit stop on the highway I have chosen to take. This highway, unfortunately, has no Google Map available. It's just the road ahead.

Please note the bottom right column, where I have stationed a neat-o del.icio.us bookmark module. Keep an eye on as I continue to bookmark relevant digitization news that I come across.

Also, please check out archi.vi.us, my attempt at creating a social bookmarking blog about all things Archives 2.0 (yeah, I'm adopting the lingo, Web 2.0, Library 2.0, etc).

Archives 2.0? It's about digital archiving, digital preserving, digital collecting, digital sharing of archival information. It's a work-in-progress, so bear with me if updates over there are slow and far between.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Job Search Update

Thankfully, I will not have to dwell for much longer in this state of unemployment, which started back on March 3 when I decided to resign from my position in the McGill University Archives.

To make a long story short, I received a phone call a few weeks ago from the head librarian at one of McGill University's affiliated teaching hospitals in downtown Montreal. The head librarian, with whom I did some volunteer work in 2004, is re-designing the library websites under his direction, and he proposed a temporary contract position for me to analyze and evaluate the websites' current information architecture and then develop a newer, more flexible architecture along with a better navigation system and a cleaner design and layout.

I accepted and will start on March 20 (quite an auspicious date, considering I know of more than one person starting anew on this date as well), and I will be dividing my time between the hospital and home. In both cases, I have a respectable set up to run the necessary Web software applications such as MS Word, Dreamweaver, and Photoshop.

Fortunately, I will not have to dust off my college-level Biology 101 text books or earn a certificate in health informatics - his staff will be working on the content. But I will need to dust off my HTML and CSS text books, although nowadays it is XHTML\CSS, with CSS not only handling formatting but page layout as well.

Anyone know of a good CSS layout book, tutorial, or online resource?

It has been close to 2 weeks since I resigned, and I have been trying to focus on the proverbial long-term career plan, but all to no avail. I will take this new and very different job opportunity to open up more doors, more so in my mind than literally. Friends and colleagues have told me to rest my mind and not to jump into anything too quickly. I'll try to follow their advice.

Meanwhile, stay tuned - the DIGITAL Archive is working behind the scenes at the moment, tightening up a few gears and adjusting the vertical and horizontal controls.

We'll be back on the air soon.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Top articles of 2006 (so far)

According to the RLG bloggers at hangingtogether.org, the following are some of the best articles written on the topics of digitization, digital preservation, access, etc.

In no particular order, here they are:

Project Origami: Microsoft's Ultramobile PC Launched


I caught wind, or rather the tail-wind, of the hype surrounding Microsoft's newest product (code-named Origami) somewhat late, so waiting on its release date (March 9) did not take too long, thankfully.

Microsoft is launching today its Ultramobile PC (UMPC). The official Microsoft site is here. Meanwhile, the Flash-powered "Project Origami" hype site is here. USA Today's Tech Product section has a good overview of the UMPC.

I took some screen shots as well.



I can't say I am overly impressed by Microsoft's efforts. The UMPC has an uninspired design and a kind of bulky (read: clumsy) look and feel to it. Microsoft's main consumer product competitor, Apple, should not feel threatened.

However, I must give credit to Microsoft:

Like 'em or hate 'em, Microsoft is capitalizing on an ever-growing and paradigm-shifting trend: digital mobility.

We see this powerful trend daily in the cell phones people of all ages use; we see it in the number of wi-fi enabled laptops and notebooks professionals carry around; we see it in the iPods and other mp3 devices people listen to on the bus and commuter trains. The examples go on and on.

Personal, multi-function mobile devices that connect to wireless broadband service will transform the way in which digital content is created and transmitted...and ultimately preserved.

If Microsoft is interested in digital mobility, I believe information professionals should be as well.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Einstein's verdict















Thank you, Albert, I appreciate your endorsement.

It's not all serious business at the DIGITAL Archive...sometimes we come across a funny thing or two and make good use of it.

Make your own Einstein Chalkboard Comment here.

Last day, first day

Last week Friday (March 3) was my last day in the McGill University Archives. This past Monday (March 6) was my first day away from the job, a job that I had held for over 5 years. It's difficult to let go so suddenly. However, I know I still made the right move.

And speaking of which, I read on Ed Bilodeau's blog (a fellow McGill blogger) that he, Ed, has decided to leave his faculty lecturer post to pursue some real cool work at McGill's Web Services Group (WSG), which is the unit in charge of designing and developing McGill University's Gateway website. Sounds like a great gig. Good luck, Ed!

The WSG are a great bunch of smart and creative people. I've collaborated with them in the past, and I believe their plans and projects for the future will be impressive.

So much change going, it's amazing, especially since so many of these changes involve a McGill friend or colleague.

I think there comes a time--or perhaps, in these shaky days, several times--in one's personal or professional life when one realizes, either euphorically or painfully or most likely regrettably, that what one has invested so much time and energy in has not truly fulfilled one's hopes and dreams. There is contemplation and serious questioning. There must be more.

In reading Ed's posting, one line in particular struck me: "The rest of my life has taken a back seat for long enough!"

Well said.

It's time to get behind the wheel and drive.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Thank You

A special thank you to those who posted their well wishes and words of encouragement to the blog as well as to friends and colleagues who emailed me their support...including a few fellow McGill friends who stopped me in the hallways of the McLennan Library Building to wish me well.

Let me tell ya, folks - leaving a job is not an easy decision. But often, to move ahead, one must make these tough choices.

Once again, thank you all. I truly appreciate it, especially at such a moment when you're leaving something familiar and comfortable and embarking on something new and unknown.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Wrapping up

In the past 5 and a half years at McGill, I have certainly accumulated a vast amount of notes, paperwork, folders, files, not to mention megabytes upon megabytes of electronic files (Word docs, HTML files, PDF, Photoshop PSD, etc, etc).

And now it's time to put some final order to them all.

Most of the paperwork--my hand-written notes, web page printouts, article printouts, draft and final reports--relate to digitalpermanence, McGill's e-records management and preservation initiative. In flipping the folders and countless pages, I believe that we--the University Archives--covered a lot of territory, most of which was the 'great unknown' to us all at the time.

A quick glance at my folders reveal the areas covered:
  • Email management (best practices)
  • Email conversion to long-term file format (tests with sample inboxes)
  • Electronic records transfer and access protocols (report)
  • Enterprise-wide digital imaging (scanning) standards (report)
  • Web archiving snapshot tool (application developed)
  • Courseware information management and preservation (research)
  • Institutional repositories information management and preservation (research)
  • Strategies in digital preservation (research)
Besides this, there is the University Archives website I designed and maintained, plus virtual exhibits and web content I created over the years. They'll need some documentation, I suspect.

Back to the wrap up...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

"Let's Go Exploring!"

Dear Readers:

A special welcome to those arriving here at The DIGITAL Archive for the first time and a warm welcome back to my casual/constant readers. This will be a short but important posting, one that will affect the future of The DIGITAL Archive.

After 5 and a half years working in the McGill University Archives, including 2 years working on digitalpermanence (the McGill University Archives' electronic records management and preservation project), I have decided to move on and explore other avenues.

While this marks the end of my time at McGill University (and marks the beginning of a hopefully short unemployment period and a major job search), the future of this blog is not in jeopardy.

It's amazing how this curiously named medium--blog--has given me a new perspective on technology and information, and on the evolution of sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas. It's amazing how bloggers that blog about libraries and archives and digitization and digital projects (and you know who you are) have broadened my horizon.

In a way, thanks in part to their enthusiasm and their daily commitment to post news and observations about the world of digital information, these dedicated bloggers helped me make the decision to move onward.

The decision to leave one's job is never easy, particular when the experience was positive. But sometimes the gut feelings and flashing lights are too strong and persistent to ignore, and the courage to make a tough decision surfaces and propels you forward. By chance, I even bumped into a few blogs about just that, here and here.

"OK, so what about The DIGITAL Archive?" you ask.

The DIGITAL Archive--in name, in URL, in design--will remain as such for now. But I will omit its affiliation to McGill University (actually, it was always ad-hoc and unofficial to begin with). Should readers wish to learn more about the McGill University Archives' digitalpermanence project, I encourage them to visit the University Archives' website.

The content of The DIGITAL Archive will change, however. One thing I've noticed about blogging is that content evolves as the writer begins to grow more confident, more focused, on his or her topic of choice. I would like to track interesting news stories that involve digitization projects, institutional and governmental digitization initiatives, digital preservation, the evolution of the Web, the dissemination of online information, RSS, podcasting, the future of archives and libraries, plus a few personal commentaries and observations, if I can squeeze those in as well.

Consider this blog as my connection to world of digitization. I'll use it to stay current as I embark on my job search into--surprise, surprise--the world of digitization.

I promised to make this posting short, but looks like I blew it.

In ending this chapter of this blog, I am reminded of the final instalment of the "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip, in which Calvin, the boy with a gifted imagination that transforms his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, into a real but friendly tiger with a quick wit, steps outside with his sidekick into a world covered by freshly-fallen snow and exclaims, with toboggan in hand: "Let's go exploring!"

Monday, February 13, 2006

Technical Glitches

In reading The DIGITAL Archive, you may notice that the paragraph formatting has gone haywire.

I was tweaking settings over the weekend (and I suspect I fooled around with things I should not have) and there we go. No more paragraphs, just blocks of text.

Hang in there as we fix this technical difficulty.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Article: The End of the Internet?

Is the Internet as we know (and love) about to come to an end?

The Nation has an eye-opening article.

And just when I was getting used to this Internet thing...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Report: Digital Curation and Preservation

A document on digital preservation and strategies for the next decade.

It's a PDF document.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Digital Preservation of Blogs

Many posts ago, I wrote a piece on whether archivists should digitally preserve blogs. I asked whether preserving blogs should be done, and how should archivists go about doing so, if the decision is made to do so?

The Rogue Librarian discusses this issue in a thoughtful manner. Quoting from RL's post:

"How will tomorrow'’s historians understand the development and impact of blogs? What evidence will future researchers turn to when they want to examine the influence that blogs had on Howard Dean'’s 2004 presidential campaign, or how a blog post disgraced 60 Minutes by revealing that what was believed by Dan Rather to be a legitimate memo about George W. Bush'’s military service was a forgery? What primary source material will show that it was a blogger who filed a Freedom of Information Act request and posted 361 snapshots of coffins of solders killed in the US war in Iraq?"

As a history grad, I can appreciate RL's perspective on the historical significance of blogs (as a communicaton and news & information tool as well as a cultural phenomenon).

The Rogue Librarian also mentions that a group of library school students were investigating the technical, social and legal problems posed by the preservation of blogs

Maybe some of you have some thoughts on this?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Google.cn: The Aftermath

In my last post, I talked about Google's presence in China and its decision to censor certain keywords at the request of the Chinese Government.

Andrew McLaughlin, Senior Policy Counsel at Google, wrote a post on January 27, 2006, called Google in China, that argues Google's decision and responds to criticism expressed by the public.

Granted, this and other news items that I have posted lately have no direct connection to digization or McGill's digitalpermanence project.

But I believe that in pursuing digitization and digital perservation we are in fact pursuing improving and increasing access to information now and in the future...something which Google's decision somewhat strays away from.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

flip-flop.google.com

Is freedom to search and access information on the web in jeopardy?

About a week ago (time passes so quickly nowadays, I'm not even sure), I read that Google had successfully resisted U.S. Government pressure to hand over search query data, which the search engine giant collects. The company earned plenty of praise. Privacy had prevailed.

Now I'm reading a news article in The Register that explains Google's recent decision to tailor its new Google China website to the specifications of the Chinese Government. According to news reports, including an interesting (and revealing) article from China Daily, the Communist government wants Google to self-censor certain keywords that are forbidden under local Chinese laws and policies in order for Google to do business in China's expanding economy and middle class. The China Daily article explains:

"The government bars access to 20 broad content categories, including pornography and other banned material."

While I can understand banning pornography, I wonder about those 20 broad content categories and that nebulous 'banned material.'

However, Google co-founder Sergey Brin considers his company's decision painful but right.

Mind you, Google is not the only Internet company to apply self-censorship. MSN and Yahoo have done the same in order to do business in China, which, according to the latest economic reports, ranks China as the fourth largest economy in the world, right after the United States, Japan, and Germany.

My point in all this, I guess, is: We create content and we upload content to the Web; as professionals we embark on digitization projects to make our collections, books, whatever, more accessible. But then the means to search and find our endeavours is blocked by government censors or search engine filters because the works may contain forbidden material.

The second point: I am surprised at how companies (i.e. Google), for the sake of doing business in a lucrative market such as China's, will sweep some of their guiding principles (i.e. Do not evil) under the proverbial rug.

So, is freedom to search and access information on the Web in jeopardy?

I guess it all depends on the country you live in.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Political Winds of Change

On January 23, 2006, Canada elected a new Prime Minister. Stephen Harper, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, was voted in as Canada's 22nd Prime Minister. In the House of Commons, his fellow Conservatives will form a minority government, which means Harper and his Cabinet must make alliances with the other political parties (Liberals, New Democratic Party, Bloc QuebeƧois, etc) in order to make and pass new policies and laws. It will be will an interesting Parliament, to say the least.

That said, I am interested in learning more about Harper's vision and plans for such areas as universities, academic and research funding and for government agencies such as Canadian Heritage and Library and Archives Canada. His political policies will impact these areas.

Politicians are always dodgy during the campaign - mostly promising the world and the moon and the stars. But with the campaign over, the concrete plans will be unveiled.

As a political agnostic in true Canadian form, I do not believe in one particular political party. They each have their merits. However, I do believe that one political party with at least a decent vision for the country and its institutions, and a commitment to rally the public around the vision, can certainly make a positive difference.

With this vote, Canadians chose not to support the Liberal Party as they had done for the past 13 years and instead put their cautious trust in the Conservatives.

Here's hoping for Canada's continued success.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Predictions 2006: Future Prospects for Librarians and Archivists

This is the third post in my “Predictions 2006” series. The aim is to make some predictions, based on trends, about the future of libraries, archives, Web technologies, electronic records management, digital preservation, etc. I make these predictions with a mix of reflection and spontaneity.

In this installment I will explore the future career prospects for librarians and archivists. I must admit, I had not planned on writing on this topic. But after reading 2 particular news items in the past couple of weeks, and in reading a few blogs that covered the same topic, I felt it important to discuss this matter.

This prediction is not pretty, I should caution. It will force many librarians and archivists, particularly new professionals in the field (like me), to wake up to some hard realities and develop a career strategy to confront and conquer the difficult issues happening now and in the future. However, it is not all doom and gloom, for I also predict that the future is bright (a kind of sunshine bright that shares the sky with scattered storm clouds) as long as librarians and archivists are passionate about a given area in the field and embrace a multidisplinary approach to their profession and are willing to take risks and flex their creative muscles.

A little background...

The first article I read that prompted this post originated from the US News & World Report's website. The article, "Career Center: Excellent careers for 2006," listed the top 10 careers for 2006. Among the top ten was--suprise, surprise--the field of librarianship. Granted, the article did not explicitely mention archivist. However, there are enough similarities to both professions (we both select, organize, retrieve, transmit important information and often, at least in an academic setting, are coupled with libraries) that, for the sake of argument, I will say that archivists and librarians are connected.

Here's an excerpt from the US News & World Report article:

Librarian: This is an underrated career. Most librarians enjoy helping patrons dig up information. They learn in the process and keep up to date on the latest books and online resources. The need for librarians, unfortunately, may decline because search engines make it easy for patrons to find information without a librarian's help. The job growth for librarians will be in nontraditional settings: corporations, nonprofit organizations, and consulting firms.

For me, 2 things popped out at me after reading this:
  1. The need for librarians will decline because search engines make it easier for patrons to find information;
  2. Job growth will occur in nontraditional settings: corporations, non-profit organizations, consulting firms
The second news article I read came from The Times (Online edition), a United Kingdom newspaper and online publication. The article, "Stress? Shhhhh," examines a study done by a consulting and recruitment firm and quotes the lead investigator, Saqib Saddiq.

Among other things, the study revealed:

Librarians complained that there was not enough variety in their work, that they did not have enough control over their careers, and they were not allowed to put their skills to full use. The lack of job satisfaction meant they were more likely than other professions to be absent from work, or to vent their frustration on their families when they got home.

Mr. Saddiq concludes, explaining that
"they [librarians] are sick of being stuck between the same shelves of books all day. They also found their work repetitive and unchallenging, and overall had very little job satisfaction..."

Like the first article, something popped out at me after reading this article:
  1. Despite the lack of detailed information on those surveyed, the article boils down the situation of librarians to this: it is unglamorous, unappreciated, and therefore stressful
Both articles, for better or for worse, make sense. And, at the same time, make no sense. But the meat of this post is not about analysis, but rather about the future propects for librarians and archivists...while using these articles, along with a blog (The Krafty Librarian) or two (Phil Bradley's weblog), as a launch pad.

In reading these articles and other people's opinions, and in reflecting on my own personal work experiences, I believe and I predict that the future prospects for librarians and archivists will be, well, it depends. Let me explain.

I went on a conference hosted by the International Council on Archives Section on University and Research Institution Archives (ICA/SUV) last year in September 2005. It was a good friendly crowd of archivists from around the world with different backgrounds and interests ...and with one thing in common: they were underfunded, understaffed, and overworked. This was repeated over and over again to the point where I became frustrated. Ah, frustrated. Frustration over the fact that, though there was much work to be done and many exciting projects to start (e.g. digitization, digital preservation), there was little funding to pursue these projects.

Why so little funding?

The fact is, in our current world, where appearances mean everything, the libraries and archives are perceived as being part of the past, a derelict storage room of aging material and books. It is seen as neutral--what does it contribute?--and as a result not very high on priority lists or budgets.

If this is indeed the wide-spread case, then how does one change the status quo, and what does this mean in terms of future career prospects for librarians and archivists?

To make any change, one must start with the self. To be a librarian or an archivist nowadays, I believe one must have passion. There are many difficult obstacles and plenty of frustrations on the road ahead, so passion--real dedication, not lukewarm woo-hoo--will keep fueling your committment.

It is also important to become an expert or, in other words, find an area in the field in which to dedicate yourself. If you're not feeling this passion, this dedication, then I would suggest you pause and review your options and motives, because this is absoluetely critcal to your future career prospects.

A lot of problems that libraries and particularly archives face revolve around being misunderstood or, worse, institutionally "invisible." What should librarians do in the age of Google? What should archivists do beside carefully shelve boxes of records and priceless artifacts? The days of remaining "mysterious" or hidden are over. It's time to broadcast the real story.

Whatever course of action professionals take to get the message out, there must be a good dose of a multidisciplinary approach included. Multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, call it what you like, but in universities and for acadmics this is the future. Why not say the same for librarians and archivists? Just like no man is an island, no librarian or archivist is one either. Cooperation, collaboration, and relationships are essential. Making a library or archives part of a larger body of study, research, or community involvment is paramount.

A question to consider: Should Google replace librarians? Of course not, no! Sounds like a simple question whose answer is a given. But truth is, the answer is not on the tip of everyone's tongue. Another question: Should an archivist be content with having his or her collections sit on a shelf? No! Collections are meant to be shown, and today's technology makes it possible (and relatively inexpensive) to do so.

It's all about not assuming anything, and being proactive in everything.

In short, I predict the future career prospects of librarians and archivists in 2006 will be (using this addictive weather analogy of mine) sunny with cloudy periods.

To burn away those excess clouds, I suggest that the new librarian or archivist entering the profession should be:
  • Passionate
  • Dedicated to an area, be it public libraries, digital libraries, digital archives, etc
  • Confident and capable in dealing with workplace frustrations, particularly funding frustration
  • Multidisciplinary, that is, forming relationships and integrating into other fields
  • Creative
  • Risk-Taking
Finally, The Krafty Librarian put it nicely in her post:

The key to making this job still one of the "most excellent" careers is embracing your opportunities and minimizing the drawbacks. If you need a change in libraries scenes to increase your opportunities then so be it. Change is scary but it is also a good thing. Any job could be classified as boring. Any job is what you make of it.

Well said! Embracing your opportunities and minimizing the drawbacks or taking a risk and changing directions if opportunities present themselves elsewhere. Now that is the future of the library and archives profession. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Worldwide E-Gov Initiatives Huge: Is digital management and preservation ready?

Federal Computer Weekly (FCW) is both a magazine and a web publication that covers IT and IT-related news affecting the US Government's information technology infrastructure. Overall, it's an interesting read, for the most part.

FCW.com hosts 2 blogs, one of which, called Culture and Context, had a post that discussed the growing size of e-government--in this case, the number of webpages operated by governments worldwide.

With a whopping 368 million webpages, the US Government e-gov has the most number of webpages, followed by its little brother, and my home and native land, Canada with 12 million webpages.

I hope someone's considering the electronic records management issues here (which webpages should be kept?), as well as electronic preservation issues (which webpages should be archived for posterity, and how?).

The top ten largest e-gov initiatives (in terms of number of webpages) are available on said blog and as part of a larger research [PDF] project published by the Electronic Government journal.

It's wet, it's icy, it's a mess!

From time to time, The DIGITAL Archive is affected by things beyond its control. Today, the weather is the culprit.

Late last night, the island of Montreal--no stranger to strange weather--experienced freezing rain, straight rain, and then more freezing rain. Taken together (and add in a mix of little or no street salting or cleaning), and Wednesday morning started off on a rather slippery note.

So I am writing this post from the comfort of my warm and dry abode.

Photo: This house's roof has a patch of snow encased in a layer of ice.

UPDATE: The weather continues to be, in the words of mostly all radio announcers on both English radio stations (CJAD, CINW) in Montreal, absolutely miserable.

UPDATE 2: The streets surrounding McGill University are closed due to icy conditions and flooding. The campus is located at the base of Mont Royal. Flooding + Archives = Not Good

Sunday, January 15, 2006

News: EU countries to build digital library to rival Google

From China's People's Daily Online (yes, I read 'em all):

Jean-Noel Jeanneney, Curator of French National Library, told media that European libraries would digitalize 50,000 to 60,000 books by the end of 2006 and the construction of the program would be in full gear in 2007. France promised to digitalize at least 15,000 books and fund 15 million euros a year.

News: Library of Congress to store records, movies in Cold War-era vault

According to Federal Computer Weekly (FCW.com), the Library of Congress will move 2.7 million sound recordings and 1.1 million moving images to a former Federal Reserve atomic bomb shelter and subsequently digitize them.

The article, Library to store records, movies in Cold War vault, talks about digital preservation of audio and moving images.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Predications 2006: The Desktop and the Web

This is the second post in my “Predictions 2006” series. The aim is to make some predictions, based on trends, about the future of libraries, archives, Web technologies, electronic records management, digital preservation, etc. I make these predictions with a mix of reflection and spontaneity.

In today’s installment I explore the ways in which local desktop applications and the Web are slowly intertwining, thus shrinking the gap that exists between local desktop applications and the World Wide Web, which I believe will lead to a greater, more personalized and more relevant desktop/Web experience.

In 2005, I encountered several web tools and software that had me buzzing with excitement, chief among them was Mozilla’s Firefox browser and its myriad of extensions. Near the end of 2005 I downloaded Google’s Blogger for Word (and made mention of it here and here) in addition to Google’s Blogger Web Comments. Taken together, I noticed how these tools and application were changing the desktop landscape.

For those not familiar with the items I mentioned, here’s a brief summary:

Firefox: If you haven’t heard about Firefox, well, er…Firefox is an amazing Web browser, made even more amazing by a vast amount of extensions that literally extend the browser’s power. Popular extensions include ForecastFox, a weather forecast extension, Sage, a RSS reader, and Blogger Web Comments (which I’ll discuss shortly). What I like about these particular extensions is that, while I am browsing, they are busy working, pulling information that I want—be it weather information, stock quotes, or who’s blogging about my blog—and displaying them when I want.

Blogger for Word: A plug-in, so to speak, for Microsoft Word, developed by Google, that enables bloggers to write and submit their posts to Blogger while still in Word. By no means an earth-shaking tools, Blogger for Word nonetheless revealed to me the shrinking space between my desktop application and the Web.

Blogger Web Comments: A nifty Firefox extension that fetches blog-based information related to any webpage you visit. In visiting The DIGITAL Archive blog site with Blogger Web Comments enabled, for example, I discovered (ahh, the joy of discovery) that two blogs had mentioned my blog in their postings. So, naturally, I visited their blogs, found them interesting, and added them to my list of sites to visit. Like other Firefox extensions, Blogger Web Comments was busy fetching information while I was browsing; and when I needed the info, it gave it to me.

I’m not sure if there is a proper technical term for these kinds of tools. I call them Firefox extensions, plug-ins, and Web apps, among other names. Even Yahoo has entered the field with its selection of Yahoo! Widgets, slick-looking desktop tools (like Apple’s Dashboard Widgets) that fetch information and display them on your desktop, like weather updates, stock quotes, etc. Whatever the case, these tools are joining our local desktop with the Web in a manner not seen before.

I believe local desktop applications and the World Wide Web will come together and collaborate in new and more advanced ways in the coming year. The space between them is clearly shrinking. I see the every day tools we work with, such as Microsoft Office, and our Web destinations of choice, such as Google and Amazon.com, working together (ok, maybe not Microsoft and Google, but you get the picture).

We users will easily set up mechanisms within desktop applications that allow us to set search queries, security parameters, and then launch intelligent “boomerangs” or agents that will swoop to web resources and re-combine data and return to us, providing us with relevant information.

Today it’s weather forecasts and stock quotes on our desktops; tomorrow it could be a window in Microsoft Word opening and alerting us to the latest news and views on the topic of our research paper.

about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.