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.

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.