Monday, December 17, 2007

Lost in the Archives: Funding

Thanks to Ed for pointing out this CBC News article to his readers. The story is about the case of several hundred missing items from the Ontario Archives.

The CBC story focuses mainly on a final report written by Audior General Jim McCarter concerning the missing items and on the painter, A.J. Casson, whose prints have gone missing - or, as the auditor general concludes, were stolen while the works were being moved.

But Ed brings up a good point, one that is far too often overlooked. While the auditor general finds fault with the archives operations, I wonder if the auditor general examined the staffing situation or the funding in the Ontario Archives?

Not being familiar with the Ontario Archives, I cannot make any direct comments. However, I can state that most archives I have known are usually struggling with inadequate funding and staffing. Materials pile up, overwhelming the staff. It is so typical a story that whenever I hear it told, I cringe and laugh a disturbed-ready-for-the-loonie-bin laugh.

It is not uncommon to have an archives staffed by maybe 2-3 professional archivists assisted by support staff or students. Nor is it uncommon to have the archives department low on the budget list. But these realities contribute to the problem of missing, uncatalogued items. And let's be honest, they are not just missing items - they are lost history, pieces of the past taken away from the public's right to see and explore and experience.

These realities are rarely discussed. Rarely. Policitians are more than happy to talk about preserving the past and digitization projects, but rarely talk about the people behind the scenes. It is as though the work gets done magically, overnight, like those Elves in that Grimm Brothers' fairy tale.

What will it take to change the discourse? Shall we lose more stuff, shall we let more go uncatalogued until things reach epedemic levels. Sadly, it is usually at that stage when the powers that be take serious notice.

Friday, December 14, 2007

It's Friday, It's Funny Friday

So the Annoyed Librarian is up to her/their freaky Friday blog posts. This time around, it is a humorous look at the five things she/they like most about being a librarian. You can read all five here.

For now, my personal favorite:

"Third, it's not busy, busy, busy all the time. If librarians were busy all the time, there wouldn't be so many librarian blogs, now would there? Busy librarians don't have time to blog so much. You can tell those librarians without much to do by the frequency of their blog posts. Show me a librarian who posts every day to two or three blogs, and I'll show you a librarian who's mastered the art of looking busy without working very hard. I'm not making fun; these librarians are to be imitated. Master that art, and your work life will be much improved." [Emphasis mine]

If you have been reading my most recent blog posts regarding the Social Web and Real Work (here and here), I think you would have to agree that this is one heck of a statement. And as the AL writes, imitate these librarians, "and your work life will be much improved."

Merry Christmas, Annoyed Librarian. I hope all three, four or five of you have a nice time off. Cheers!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hills and Valleys and Your Career

Once again Steve Oberg, blogging over at Family Man Librarian, has posted a very candid and personal piece about librarianship, choices, decisions, and the hills and valleys that a professional naturally encounters on his or her career path. In his post, he cites--and is inspired by--a blog post written by Steven Bell, who discusses his ascent from librarian to director...while balancing family life and its hefty demands.

The theme shared by both authors is a general but poignant question: Am I where I should be professionally? In other words, have I made the right decisions, based on various environmental circumstances of the past, and am I happy with where I am professionally? Have I accomplished and achieved all that I could have? Their responses are surprising...and reassuring!

Regardless of the profession you find yourself in, whether librarian, archivist, or some other information professional, or whether you find yourself at the crossroads of life, the fact is we all start to ask such questions after a certain amount of years in the profession. Am I where I should be professionally? Did I envision something different?

We ought to expect peaks and valleys in our professional life, and incorporate them (as best we can, being mere mortals, of course) into our planning. There will be good times--moments of exhilaration, recognition--and bad times when the surrounding fluid sounds of success diminiss into a din of noise and static, where nothing seems to make sense.

Steven Bell, however, provides some insightful advice: Treat a career path as a runner treats a marathon. Plenty of pacing, planning, bursts of energy, moments to recharge.

I have been in this field since 2001, almost 7 years, and one thing I have gleaned, which I hope can be of value to anyone reading, is to keep one's short-term and long-term goals and objectives in mind, especially long-term goals and objectives. Never lose sight of those long term visions. There will be times when a short-term situation may seem to take precedence, like that lingering never-ending project, that contract extension, but never lose sight of the long-term. Keep running toward the longer-term goal. This is not a sprint, the fastest one past the finish line wins. No. This is a long run. Do not sprint toward the short-term, wasting precious time and energy. Focus your time and save your energies for the long-term.

To use another anology. This is a story, a book with many chapters. Some chapters last a long time, full of twists and turns. Other chapters, well, those we simply cannot wait to finish, to close, and move on.

Where ever you are in your career, if graduation day occurred a few months ago or several years ago, this is your professional career. This is a long run; it is a story with many chapters. Be ready to run the distance; be prepared to finish one chapter and start another.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Circular Entertainment

The consumer co-creates with the creator in creating a more perfect entertainment experience.

This story on CNET Blogs sure warms me up.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Social Web, Real Work: Feedback

I was very pleased to read the many thoughtful and balanced comments on my last blog post regarding the Social Web and Who is doing the real work.

To everyone who commented, thank you. I have not received so much feedback since, well, since I don't when, quite frankly.

Personally, I like the Social Web. I use a number of online tools and resources, including but not limited to Blogger, Twitter, Flickr, and I have a Facebook account, but sadly have not had much time to update it or really use it in a meaningful way.

I opened a Second Life account (created a simple Avatar) to see what the fuss was all about, and I opened several other accounts to services whose names have either vanished from my brain or vanished from the Web landscape altogether.

Truth is, the Social Web is valuable: I have learned from and shared knowledge with many out there, many of whom will never know just how much their blogging, flickring, or twittering has helped me.

However, working in an archives for many years and having faced the usual troubles of archives around the globe (i.e. limited resources, limited staff, low priority), attempting to adopt the Social Web as even a part of Real Work becomes a very, very difficult task.

By Real Work, take, for example, processing archivists. Their bread and butter--their Real Work, in other words--does not and will not entail dealing with the Social Web. Sure, on a personal level, they may check this account or that account. But their daily output (in meters/linear feet), their accessioning of boxes and files, their management of backlog, that is their Real Work, that is the stuff that for better or for worse keeps the department afloat. No records processed, no archives. And then nevermind opening up a shop on Second Life for reference services or for showcasing digitized material. Before material gets digitized it needs to be accessioned. And when there are deadlines to be met, reports to be written and submitted, a manager or supervisor does not want to hear about the Social Web.

The Social Web is awesome, as I explained beforehand. Make no mistake about it. I use it when I have the time, and then mainly for personal and professional development. But I feel it is important to speak for those whose work, the behind the scenes work, never gets noticed...and never benefits from the Social Web.

I read a blog post by David Lee King in which he said he had actually done library work on Facebook. He sounded a little surprised that he had done actual work using Facebook.

For those whose positions--or their bosses--allow for the use of the Social Web to conduct business, I tip my hat to you. Consider yourselves fortunate to be working in such an environment. There are some places where the Social Web is not a priority, for it cannot solve immediate and pressing needs.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Social Web is Cool, But Who's Doing the Real Work?

In between reading and sending emails, researching and analyzing data, and writing and editing reports, I try to make the time to keep abreast of happenings in the blogosphere by browsing through my RSS feeds and reading my favorite blogs, current news and events websites, or social networking websites.

But, honestly, I barely have the time to read these blogs and websites even after trimming the excess and reducing my reading list down to the most essential. The fact is, I have very little time at work to engage in, let alone cyber socialize with, the social Web that so many are hyping constantly.

This morning, I followed the pathway to The Irreverent Archivist whose post "Is This the 21st Century," which is actually quite good, links to the OCLC CAPCON conference website where I found several PowerPoint presentations on social networking, including one presentation by Roy Tennant. Being familiar with Roy Tennant's name through the blogosphere, I downloaded his presentation and was impressed by what he had pulled together in terms of social networking in libraries and the various web technologies offered (Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Last.FM, LibraryThing, Second Life, etc).

But as the presentation pages passed me by, I became overwhelmed by the number of social networking websites out there and wondered who has the time at work to both set-up and maintain an account on all these social networking websites? Who has the time to travel around Second Life when a report is due? Who has the time to update their Facebook account with the latest applications, or produce a YouTube video, or catalog books on LibraryThing when a boss or supervisor wants that report ASAP?

I think we should be very cautious when we collectively--librarians, archivists, fence-sitters, don't know how I got here people--promote the Social Web because the Social Web requires time and that means time away from work. Maybe for some lucky souls work is the Social Web. But there are many, many more souls whose work is predominantly defined by daily outputs and servicing real people in the real world.

While I agree these social networking websites are wonderful tools when used efficiently in various information-centric environments, they are clearly aimed at those who have the time or have been given the time at work to use them.

Even on the Social Web, there are haves and have-nots. So while there are those whose time is spent in Second Life, there are many more in real life getting the real work done.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Happiness on the Job

A special thanks goes out to the Annoyed Librarian for pointing this one out.

Time Magazine has produced an interesting interactive career satisfaction scale that displays the level of happiness (or lack of happiness) people feel about their jobs. Sadly, I could not find any mention of archivist. But I did see the entry for librarians (close enough, I guess).

Don't just sit there reading this post - get on over there to Time's "One Day in America: Happiness on the Job" web page!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Brush with Washington Famous, Part 4

For this installment of Brush with Washington Famous, I had a brush with a famous Canadian living in visiting Washington, DC.

This past Saturday evening, I went shopping at Trader Joe's, a grocery store where lots of students and local residents buy their groceries because of selection and good prices, when I saw none other than former Alberta premier Ralph Klein perusing the ailses. Dressed casually, he strolled around, hands in the pockets of his blue jeans.

I was standing in line when I saw him and the first thought that came to mind was, "What the heck is he doing here??"

This time folks, without an entourage, motorcade, security, or, say, a "I ♥ Alberta Beef" sticker on his lapel, I cannot say with certainly if this was in fact Ralph Klein. But this person sure looked like him. know, I think it was him, especially after reading this item from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

According to the Center's website, "Mr. Klein will be at the Institute from October 2007 - December 2007..." The Institute is located in Washington, DC on Pennsylvania Avenue.

It looks like I had yet another encounter with Washington Famous (or folks from Canada who want to be famous in Washington).

Friday, November 09, 2007

Unmasking the Annoyed Librarian

The movement to unmask the Annoyed Librarian is picking up strength and momentum. Heck, even the Annoyed Librarian herself has entered the race. According to her most recent blog post, the perrenially annoyed one asserts that she is not--I repeat, not--Meredith Farkas, dispelling any and all blogosphere rumors to the contrary.

I do not know Meredith Farkas; however, I am aware of her blog Information Wants to be Free. I wonder if this is the Annoyed Librarian's coy attempt at thrawting the attempts to unmask her. Putting us off the track, so to speak.

I personally believe the Annoyed Librarian is a group, a collective of annoyed librarians collaborating to publish blog posts. The editor, probably the most vocal of this chummy bunch, is the one we have come to know and love (or hate) as the Annoyed Librarian. Notice how some blog posts elucidate on the weaknesses of the American Library Association, while others are critical of popular bloggers/librarians. This seems to point to several authors. Granted, my argument is not without holes. But it is what it is.

That said, why the movement to unmask the Annoyed Librarian? Shouldn't we have a bit of mystery? Shouldn't we have someone who remains anonymous and thus is more able to shine a discerning light on the issues of our time or our profession?

I am proud to say that I found the Annoyed Librarian's blog and blogged about her/they long before she/they became the blogosphere hit that she/they is/are today. May 29, 2006 to be exact.

So let the Annoyed Librarian remain anonymous; let her/they blog without hinderance.

Yes, that is good and true.

But then again. I wonder. I wonder....

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Annoyed vs. the Webtamer and other tales from the Archives

The mysterious but always outspoken (and often controversial) Annoyed Librarian strikes again, this time dishing out her annoyance at video games as becoming part of the library school curriculum and their usage in libraries. She quotes The Shifted Librarian describing a gaming course offered by Dr. Michael Stephens. Both Stephens and Shifted are proponents of gaming in library school and libraries. The latter, Stephens, whom the Annoyed Librarian affectionately calls the Webtamer (or Dr. Webtamer, since earning his Ph.D), is the prolific blogger/librarian behind the Tame the Web blog, which regularly promotes the use of gaming and social networking technologies in libraries to encourage community involvement.

Taken with a grain of satirical salt, the Annoyed Librarian argues that library school, already in many respects an “intellectual joke,” as she call it, will become more so if it embraces video gaming as the new education model. And the people promoting these activities, those “twopointopians,” should continue doing so on their blogs, even though they are probably too busy playing video games or social networking.

For the record, I like Michael Stephens, aka Dr. Webtamer, at least the parts of his professional life that he blogs and photographs. And in some ways, I envy his stature in the library field. He travels extensively and gives presentations across the United States, talking about stuff he loves. His excitement is tangible; he truly loves his profession. He’s excited about his work and how all those little gadgets and social networking technologies impact his work and life – and how they can do the same for library schools and libraries.

There are other bloggers/librarians whose day jobs, it seems, are filled with nothing but Second Life, iPods, and Guitar Hero. Although their jobs do not reflect reality, my reality at least, I nonetheless cannot fault them for being so joyful.

I hope they realize how very fortunate they are—how very fortunate--for many us in this field toil in obscurity.

Also for the record, I like the Annoyed Librarian as well. I believe she is a collective of annoyed librarians, and someone in the group is the editor. How can one person be so prolific and still have time to do their day job? In any case, the Annoyed Librarian remains one of the few blogs in the blogosphere that, with wit and satire, nails the foibles of library school so succinctly. It has acted as a personal balm on many occasions.

In regards to video games and gaming, I blogged about video games in the corporate world a few blog posts ago. Citing a BBC news article--and with tongue firmly pressed in check--I figured, what the heck: If video games are the collaboration model for many young adults entering the workforce, then the workforce should adopt video games as the means to get its young employees to collaborate and get the work done. I even figured I best dust off my old 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to prepare myself. Remember that one, folks, the NES?

Then I read a blog post from our Chief Information Officer, which stunned me, quite frankly. (Sorry, folks, his blog is behind a firewall.) Essentially, he argues that we, our institution, should have a presence in the virtual world Second Life. I had to re-read his post twice just in case I misread his comments. But it’s true: He firmly believes in virtual spaces such as Second Life as a viable and business valuable strategy. Cool, but...

On the one hand, I can appreciate the case Stephens, Shifted and our CIO present. The collaborative space, influenced by videogames, is an emerging platform where people come together and, bound by common goals, work together in the virtual space to achieve said common goals. But on the other hand, I wonder if all this virtual/collaborative space is nothing but another layer of unnecessary work and extra steps to attain information, knowledge, or getting the job done. It’s fun, sure, but is it necessary?

Don't get me wrong: I love a good game of Half-Life 2 as much as the next guy. But what does a first-person shooter--or twanging a guitar controller--have in common with information delivery?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Canadian Dollars Does it Again

The Canadian Dollars, affectionately known as the Loonie (those fearsome birds), has hit a new high against the US Dollar. So much for earning a once sweet American dollar!!

Follow this bird's ascent on Yahoo! Finance.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gaming in the Working World?

The news story on BBC News online--"When work becomes a game"--sounds interesting. I remember way back, when I was a young kid playing video games, I was often scolded for playing too long with my video games and not spending enough time doing my homework.

Well now look here. The tables have turned. It looks like the skills needed and acquired in playing video games, particularly team-based games, may become required skills for the workplace of the future.

Time to dust off my Nintendo!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Brush with Washington Famous, Parts 2 and 3

A few weeks ago, I walked past the former Director of Central Intelligence and former head of the Central Intelligence Agency F. James Woolsey. I chronicled this event in a recent blog post.

Yesterday, Saturday, I had two--yes, count 'em, two--encounters with the Washington Famous. I was doing my usual Saturday grocery shopping when I bumped into Ben Stein's shopping cart (or, to be more accurate, his cart almost bumped into me - but he quickly apologized).

Ben Stein is an economist, writer, comedian, TV personality, game show host, reality show host, and on and on the list goes.

Bumping into him near the cold cuts and cheese section was a surprise and then seeing him line up in the express check out lane was equally surprising. I guess these Washington elites and Hollywood types are not all that different from us (aside from a few million dollars in their bank accounts).

My second encounter with the Washington Famous occurred later on in the evening when I was leaving the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts building following its daily free show program.

I was crossing the street from the Kennedy Center to the Watergate complex when I saw a sleek black Cadillac slowly pull to the curb, followed by two large, black SUVs. The slow, deliberate movement of the three vehicles alerted me that this was a coordinated motorcade.

Two secret service agents jumped out from the SUVs (looking suspiciously like Agent Smith from Matrix fame), and I continued crossing the street, actually walking between the two now parked SUVs. The driver of one SUV looked at me with piercing eyes; I could see his communication ear piece and its coiled wire running down into his shirt collar. Another agent with bulging eyes saw me coming and probably sized me and concluded I was no threat.

In an almost surreal moment, I looked to my left and saw another agent open the door to the first SUV and out stepped US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, her long black legs reaching toward the sidewalk. She walked toward the Watergate with purpose even when someone from a local cafe shouted, "Hi Condi!"

While I have serious mixed feelings about living and working in this city, these encounters with the Washington Famous add some needed distraction to the daily routine.

The big question is: Who will I bump into next. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 19, 2007

So Far Away From Blogsville

Where were you?

For those wondering where I have been, why the silence on the blog front, the reason is simple: I was and continue to be very, very busy at work. It is hard to believe, but I am almost 8 months into my projects, and I am simply attempting to wrap up one of them. This is the nature of archival work; things take a long, long time to complete. I am not particularly fond of this because I find my attention wanes roughly six months into any given project.

What were those two Jott blog posts all about?

I had a meeting last week (or was it two weeks ago?) with a colleague who works with advanced technologies; he determines their business value, analyzes their potential, and dispenses recommendations and cautions as to how the institution should proceed with them. Lately, his focus has been on Web-based technologies such as blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, mashups, collaboration, social networking, etc.

During the course of the meeting he mentioned Jott, a free service that allows subscribers to call a toll-free number and send messages to yourself, to groups, teams, or even to Twitter or your blog. The magic is that Jott transforms your spoken word into text. My description is probably not doing justice, so go check out this page.

What do you want to do with your life?

I wanna rock. I WANT TO ROCK. No, wait, wrong answer. It's no secret that I am still looking for that elusive dream job. But while reading David Lee King's latest blog post, I think I am homing in on what I'd like to do. As a Librarian and Digital Branch Manager, David's list of work activities reads like a dream job:
  • attended a meeting about progress with Second Life projects
  • attended a meeting about the upcoming election year and content possibilities with the Digital Branch (ie., blogs, community sharing, partnerships, etc)
  • created a draft document of digital branch content and staffing guidelines and emailed it out to our guidelines group for review
  • drooled over the library’s new iPod Touch - the last of our Techie ToyBox goodies to arrive!

If I shared with you my daily work activities, I would probably lose my readership (yes, all two of you), so I will not.

If your daily work activities are similar to mine, or if you're lucky enough that they resemble David Lee King's, let me know either way.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

This is my second blog...

This is my second blog post to blogger using jott. For those who do not jott is a new service that allows users to telephone a jott specific number and speak their idea and jott transcribes whatever they say into words and publishes it to either blogger or twitter or even to yourself.
Click here to listen

Powered by Jott

Friday, October 12, 2007

This is my first blog...(er, not really)

This is my first blog post to Blogger using Jott. Let's see if it works.

Powered by Jott

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A Lesson Learned

In the past few weeks I had several blog post ideas circulating in my head. Rather than writing them down or simply making a few notes, I filed them away in my increasingly cluttered brain.

Well, the filing system in there failed, sadly, and much of what I had to write about were drowned by the onslaught of monotonous work. The word busy does not even begin to fully describe the level of work in these past few weeks, hence the lack of updates to this blog.

So a lesson learned: If a blog post idea strikes you--anytime, anywhere--be sure to have some sort of notepad (the real or Microsoft kind) readily available. Do not put faith in the memory prowess of a tired and busy brain.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Web and History

Last week, I attended a meeting hosted by a local young adult / young professionals organization. The organization discusses news and events of concern to the neighborhood and often schedules movie nights that focus on a particular theme. It's great for socializing and learning a new thing or two about our world.

On this evening the movie scheduled was called "Beyond the Gates," a film about a teacher and a Catholic priest caught in the middle of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, where Hutu killers massacred Tutsis by the hundreds of thousands. Based on a true story, the movie was rough and gut-wrenching.

The movie--and the entire Rwandan genocide--reminded me of one courageous Canadian solider, Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, a commander on a United Nations mission in the troubled African country.

The tragedy remains raw for anyone taking a casual glance at the story: Lt. Gen. Dallaire's losing battle with U.N. bureaucracy and subsequent inability to act against the chaos unfolding around him and his eventual struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression are well chronicled in a book he penned.

Dallaire warns that if we fail to learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.


I believe Web technology offers a chance to keep history alive to everyone from a university professor to a student to everyone else in between.

National Public Radio (NPR), the U.S. equivalent of the CBC in Canada, had an interview with Dallaire when his book was published. NPR recorded the interview with Dallaire and now offers it over the Web. Streaming audio technology has been around for several years now, but this is still a remarkable use of the technology. It's live and alive.

Meanwhile, the United States Marine Corps University Archives is actively recording the stories of veteran marines. I recently contacted Dr. Jim Ginther, Archives Team Leader in the Library of the Marine Corps, and asked if he planned on making these recordings available over the Web.

"The long range plan is to make these available on-line," Dr. Ginther explained, adding that "no firm timeline has been set for specific interviews or groups of interviews." The real issue at the moment revolves less around content, but more around hardware and software. "We are in the process of upgrading our systems to allow us to do just what you suggest," he said.

With that, I wished him and his project the best of luck.

The Web remains undoubtedly an exciting place, and an excellent place to share with others stories from the past.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fall Arrives Silently

It is hard to believe that today is the first day of Fall. Looking outside reminds me of the first day of Summer, actually. No sense staying indoors. Who knows how long this unseasonable weather will last.

Seasons in Washington:

Spring: Check
Summer: Check
Fall: Just beginning
Winter: Soon enough

Monday, September 17, 2007

O.J. 13 Years Later....

This morning, upon switching on my computer, I headed over to the celebrity gossip website (okay, okay, forgive me, it's Monday morning, all right).

Lo and behold, who do I see: O.J. Simpson's latest mugshot, this one taken after his arrest in Las Vegas, Nevada over his alleged attempted robbery at gunpoint, no less, of his own sports memorabilia from a private sports collector.

The story is more clearly elucidated on But, for me, the important part was two-fold:

1. It's like deja vu

2. It was 13 years ago when O.J. made his first sensational running-from-the-law media splash

13 years ago. Back then, I was just about to start university, just about to start my B.A. in History major, just about to embark on a new journey. My God. Time flies. What have I accomplished? What have I done with my time? Earlier this month, on September 11, the U.S. marked the sixth anniversary of 9/11. 6 years already.

Do these types of anniversaries and events put your life into perspective?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Web Design Book Reviews

Although I have not been actively involved with web design since November 2006, I am nonetheless determined to stay current on the evolution of web design.

Digital Web Magazine (a true favorite of mine) provides visitors with a list of book reviews on the latest and best web design books published. Bookmark this page.

Saturday in the Park

Weekend Update

It's Saturday, a much cooler and much more Fall-like day than any other day this past week. Much of the humidity that had heated the city is gone, perhaps vacationing some place much more south than here, like the Caribbean.

This past week at work was very busy and I anticipate an even busier one next week. It seems like I am juggling more and more work as the weeks--and as the projects--move forward. On the one hand, I am pleased that the projects are indeed moving forward; but, on the other hand, I am certainly not welcoming the increased work piling up on my desk or the levels of stress.

As usual, I would love to share with my readers more details. But of course that is not possible due to the sensitive nature of the work. Nevertheless, I really miss sharing this kind of information, for it makes blogging--and connecting with other bloggers--all the more interesting. Being an international civil servant may not be my cup of tea.

Blog Notes

One of the reasons I like reading blogs is because every so often a blogger or two out there writes something that really resonates with me...and in a odd way comforts me when the going gets tough over here in hectic Washington, DC.

There's the blogger who, like myself, misses the academic environment; there's the blogger who, like myself, reflects upon his life and career and realizes that to live authentically is to live without fear of taking risks; and there's the blogger who, like myself, is excited about the web and emerging web technologies and their impact on information services and communication and connecting people, that he writes about these things on an almost daily basis, evangelizing people of the power of the Web.

This is me - I work on the Web

I came across this meme (or web movement) on Michael Stephen's Tame the Web blog and, following a link within said blog post, discovered another blogger espousing the same affirmation: "This is me - I work on the Web."

According to Kathryn Greenhill, the meme started on Flickr and has spawned a Flickr Group called iworkontheweb. Cool.

Although both Michael and Kathryn are librarians, the web affirmation transcends the library and information field (and archives field, of course).

I like this affirmation because it reflects the changing nature and perception of the Web. The Web is no longer on the periphery, on the fringes of regular work and social activity. It is an extension, a natural integral component of work and life now. I am part of it--you are part of it as well--even though I currently find myself in a work environment that is less Web-centric that I had hoped.

To Do Lists

The to-do list is not very long today, but still it sits in front of me, grinning. Okay, it's time to get things done.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

My Brush with the Washington Famous

I was taking a leisurely stroll past the George Washington University last week, walking by the the main student gathering area and classrooms, when walking toward me was the former Director of Central Intelligence and head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) R. James Woolsey.

I recognized the former top spy and it would seem as though he knew that I recognized him, for he seemed to pause as he saw me looking at him. Well, there was no discrete exchange of information or clandestine activity. Mr. Woolsey had probably given a lecture at the university and thought I was a student.

One of the perks of living and working in Washington, DC.

Friday, August 31, 2007

My My My, Look How Time Flies

When was it? A few months ago, a few years ago that I talked about the 'newest' Foo Fighters single "Best of You"?

Lo and behold, Dave Grohl and his gang have released a new hard-hitting single called "The Pretender."

The video is on YouTube, of course.

Things Change: Inside and Outside

I went on holidays on the week of August 13. I spent a week in Montreal, where I met with family and friends. I had a good time and soaked in a much-needed quiet break from the noisy hustle of Washington, DC. I also visited friends in Ottawa. It was during my trip to Ottawa that the seed for this blog post took root.
On the Greyhound bus from Montreal to Ottawa, I could not help but notice the numerous construction projects taking place around me. Quebec is well-known for its endless road work; but this, what I witnessed from the window of the speeding bus, was somehow different, more energetic. Not only were provincial work crews busy digging, drilling, hammering, and paving road ways, there were large housing and commercial developments taking place along Highway 40, a part of the TransCanada Highway.

For those familiar with the highway and surrounding neighborhoods, this part of the Montreal Island is known as the West Island. Neighborhoods such as Kirkland, Beaconsfield, St-Lazare, Hudson, Dorion-Rigaud all seem to be undergoing prolific transformations.

Large construction machines move across the flattened land, puffing clouds of dust from their heavily burdened tires and treads. The land, bulldozed flat, sprout the wood and steel frames of future homes and commercial centers. Local traffic flood streets. This scene was repeated over and over, town after town. Even in 'quiet' Ottawa, where I ventured west of the downtown core to the suburbs of Canada's capital, there were housing and commercial developments unseen before in my travels.

I began thinking, pulling concepts and images together attempting to reason why there was so much activity. This time around, however, I could not come up with any kind of philosophical reason or statistical set of numbers explaining why this was happening. All I could think of was: "Things are changing."

My time away from Montreal allowed me to see things in a different light, I suppose. "Things are changing. New construction almost everywhere. People moving about." It also got me thinking that when things begin to change there is often opportunity not far behind.

And lately, whenever I think about opportunity, I often think about job opportunities. It is no secret that the Montreal Library and Information Studies (LIS) market is rather weak, with few openings in an already small marketplace. I know several McGill Graduate School and Library and Information Studies' classmates and alumni (including me) who have reluctantly moved elsewhere to find work. Some, however, those fortunate few, remain but feel limited in their current job. While others have taken a more radical approach and have parted ways with their traditional librarian/archivist training and have pursued other fields, such as IT/Systems and Support, Music, Translation, etc while still bringing to the table some themes and skills learned in library school.

I really like the last group--those who have reinvented themselves after library school--because they are thinking outside the box. Like the new construction, they are building something new on uncharted land, land mostly unexplored by past library school graduates, changing direction, accepting risks, and inviting opportunity.

In the past six months, basically since I relocated to Washington, DC to work on a 12-month contract here, there has been changes in my thinking and perception. Nothing deep enough to write about here, at least not yet. But something subtle. I would like say that I am settling in and feeling right at home here. But as Ed aptly put it in a blog post, on most days, following a day's work, I break even. A tie game. Not sure of the next day's game plan. If there are more developments in this area, I'll keep my legion of readers posted.

Just remember one thing: "Things are changing."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Testing scribefire to post

This is a test. It's okay. Just testing.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Friday, August 10, 2007



Firefox updated from to the other day, and now as I started it up all my settings and add-ons and themes have vanished!


Update 08/12/2007: Okay, I had to completely uninstall Firefox, that is, remove all Mozilla Firefox files from my computer. I re-installed Firefox and all works well again. It's just too bad I lost all my favorite add-ons. Slowly building back my collection and adding a few news ones.

Honor, Dedication and Sacrifice

Last weekend I visited Arlington National Cemetery and witnessed the awesome and inspiring Tomb of the Unknowns and the Changing of the Guard.

Crossing the open green fields dotted with white tombstones of the fallen, seemingly perfectly aligned from every vantage point, I came to the area where the Tomb of the Unknowns and the Sentinel protecting the site is located.

The Sentinel, part of the specially-trained and extremely disciplined members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (Old Guard), stand with rifle in hand by the Tomb of the Unknowns 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, rain or shine, summer or winter (unless the weather is very hostile at which point they can take shelter -but that's unlikely).

The Sentinel stands guard in full honor uniform, pacing 21 steps in front of the large sarcophagus and three grave sites containing the remains of unidentified U.S. military personnel from previous wars. Pause for 21 seconds, then turn and pace 21 steps again, continuing the precise movements until relieved - that is, the Changing of the Guard.

The relief commander or assistant relief commander initiates the changing of the guard according to Army regulations. As the ceremony begins, there is a tangible feeling of honor and dedication emanating from the guards. The stillness in the air, the solemnity of the ceremony steeped in symbolism, the precision and beauty of the maneuvers, and the dedication to the unknown soldiers are inspiring.

As we sleep and dream the night away, there is a Sentinal at Arlington National Cemetery manning his post by the Tomb of the Unknowns, fulfilling his honorable duty for those who made the ultimate sacrifice, nameless.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 and the Rise of the New "ME"dia

Yesterday afternoon, during a break and momentary lull at work, I received a Twitter tweet or twit (or announcement, for those Twitter uninitiated among us) from Greg Willits, one half of the husband and wife team behind the podcast Rosary Army and videocast That Catholic Show.

Greg informed his subscribers (or followers in Twitter parlance) that he and his wife, Jennifer, were about to record an episode of their podcast live on, a new live video streaming website where anyone with a webcam and microphone can broadcast a show over the Web.

Clicking on the link provided, I soon saw Greg and Jennifer broadcasting live from their home studio, a renovated walk-in closet affectionately known as the Cloffice. Sure enough, they were recording an upcoming episode of their Rosary Army podcast.

I had to tune out several times to respond to work-related questions, so I could not listen and watch the entire recording. By the time I returned to the video, Greg and Jennifer had finished recording their show but remained on screen to chat with viewers, dishing out the latest news and updates on their upcoming projects. According to the screen, there were 34 people watching and a few chatting. A small interested community were glued to their screen watching two Web 2.0 broadcasters doing a fairly good job at broadcasting.

Just then, I had a "a-ha" moment. I have been fascinated with content creation and delivery mechanisms since 2003 when I saw how the entertainment world was divided into content creators (actors, directors, musicians, artists) and content deliverers (production studios, film distributors, music companies, cable companies).

Fast-forward to 2007 with the rise of YouTube and and other user-generated content websites and you see how the entertainment model is spreading across the social spectrum. No longer are content creators and content creation confined to some studio lot in Hollywood or record company in LA or New York. No longer is the usual content deliverers the only route. Content creators now have the Web to distribute their content.

Granted, the advent of blogging and the mainstreaming of the blogosphere have shown us the influence of the new content creators and the power of the Web to distribute content.

But now something new is emerging, I believe: It is the emergence of communities surrounding these blogs, podcasts, videocasts, etc. And by communities I do not necessarily mean fan groups or user groups. I mean--thanks in part to RSS, the iPod and other mp3 devices--there is intimacy between the content creator and the consumer and levels of participation and creativity unseen before between content creator and content consumer.

The user-generated content world is still in its infancy, still focused on the juvenile "Me" of new media (like Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year) and still bedeviled by content plagerism and outright content theft, and grilled by the quesiton, Who exactly is earning money off my content?

But look beyond these details for a moment and one will see taking root inside the new "me"dia a florishing community of "us"ers.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

X-Ray Your Web Pages

The writers and web designers over at Digital Web Magazine have discovered a cool little web design tool that plugs in to FireFox and Safari web browsers: XRay.

It is a floating inspector that reveals markup, CSS, dimensions to whatever web page element you point and click your mouse on.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Taking Risks: Steps to Growth

Once again, Steve, over at Family Man Librarian, posts another good one, this time on the topic of taking risks, both professionally and personally. What can I say? I agree. The only problem I have is that it's sometimes so hard to do, that's all.

You know, whenever I give a presentation on electronic records management or digital preservation (which are very rare nowadays), I always encourage the audience to take risks, to take a chance. To do something towards digital preservation. To accession a CD-ROM or DVD. To capture a website. To accession an old email account. I often make my pleas with a kind Anthony Robbins intensity (okay, not so intense, but you get the picture). And I think the reason why I am so passionate about taking risks when speaking is because I am really trying to break through my own shell of stubornness and refusal to listen to my own advice and convince myslef of the growth that comes in the wake of taking a risk.

Yes, I want to take more risks. Not just risks in relocating to another city or another country. But also taking a risk to pursue another path, another direction, envisioning a new goal.

Anyway, go read Steve's post.

Reflections Through an Open Letter to Self

Steve, blogging over at Family Man Librarian, has posted an open letter to himself. What a neat idea and what a great way to re-focus your priorities and adjust your attitude. I applaud his courage and creativity.

Monday, July 23, 2007

New X-Files Movie?

According to this report by the BBC, David Duchovny, who played the role of Special Agent Fox Mulder on FOX's hugely successful sci-fi/paranormal television series between 1993 and 2002, is expecting to receive the script for another X-Files movie sometime this week.

Great news! Chris Carter, the show's creator, and Frank Spotnitz, the head writer, have been busy!

I am one of those people who believes that nothing on television is worth watching ever since the X-Files went off the air. And to some extent, based on my viewing habits, I think this still holds true. But, anyway, that's another topic for another day.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter Pandemonium

With most folks reading the latest (and last) Harry Potter novel this weekend, the news website DCist is reporting that the Washington DC area is the biggest Potter fan base in all of America, at least according to order statistics.

Your intrepid blogger, journalist, and Washington insider will investigate further.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Future of Archivists

There is a link making its rounds around the librarian-blogosphere that features interviews with prominent librarians such as Michael Stephens, David Lee King, and Meredith Farkas, among others. They discuss the future of librarians, with many referencing advances in communication and collaboration technologies as catalysts for radical change.

I wonder if the author of this piece would consider talking to archivists and ask them what does the future hold for archivists and archives?

What would we say if such an interview were held?

Librarians seem to basking in a lot of online sunlight lately. With The New York Times piece on librarians being hip (okay, I thought the article was a crock, honestly, something to do with clothing style, rather than professionals being hip, I dunno, I was confused) and now this discussion on the future of librarians, they are enjoying some good exposure.

I think it is time we archivists--whatever stripe you are, hipster, expert, casual, lone wolf--start being heard as well.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blogging Directions

I apologize to my readers for not posting anything new in the past few weeks, weeks that have been filled with several project deadlines.

The good news is that many of the documents and reports I helped prepare and write were accepted by senior management. Judging by the positive, almost gleeful reaction of supervisors and colleagues to this news, I believe I achieved a milestone.

I honestly wish I could blog more about the work I am undertaking at the moment, but so much of the work is confidential in nature. I also wish I could blog more about research on digital preservation and recent findings I am discovering, but that particular research project has been put on hold, so there is very little to say other than the consultants we had in mind were all very competent.

As I have discussed in previous posts, where I debated and discussed the role this blog would perform in chronicling my work, I am still wondering how best to utilize this blog without jeopardizing the sensitive nature of the work I am doing. I do not see myself resolving this matter any time soon.

Part of being a researcher in any field, be it archives, libraries or history, is to share findings and therefore build upon existing knowledge in the field. And in an “Archives 2.0” age—forgive me if you are sick of two-point-oh wordisms—that sharing also means connecting and collaborating with other like-minded professionals through blogs, for example. But unfortunately for now at least I cannot discuss much.

So, to summarize:

In terms of posts related to work, there will not be many, if any at all.
In terms of posts related to the evolving role of archives and archivists in this Web / Digital Age, there will be more posts of that nature. In terms of posts related to my own personal journey and transition to other areas of information management, there will be just about the same amount.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fourth of July, My Work, My Webcam, NDIIPP Report

Fourth of July
The institution where I work let us out of the office early today because of the Fourth of July holiday tomorrow. But before I left, I managed to submit a few work-related documents and an important memo that will set in motion one big project. A good way to start a holiday, I say. Something accomplished. I feel good about that.

My Work
Interestingly, I find myself, once again, not really doing the "archives-thing," if you know what I mean. Rather than processing or reference work, I am putting my research and writing skills to more use, this time around focusing on project planning and strategies and business documents. For long-time readers of The DIGITAL Archive, this is not so much of a surprise, because my work in the Archives has really been of the non-traditional kind. Web, software, hardware, research, writing.

It's experiences like this that lead me to believe that, while I can appreciate libraries and archives, I really do not know if I should call myself a red-blooded archivist. To be honest--and to paraphrase historian and digital preservation pioneer Dr. David Kirsch--I am neither a librarian or archivist, but someone who cares about these cultural centers and will use his skills (web, writing) to make others aware and care for these places.

My Webcam
Over the weekend, I bought a Creative Live! Cam Notebook Pro webcam. The webcam is fine, not outstanding, but offers sufficient clarity to broadcast live video. It cost me $19.99 ($20.99 with tax, unbelievable). Worth it.

I opened a account to test the broadcast quality of the video stream. Actually, as I write this post, I am broadcasting live on! Okay, let's see, number of viewers. Zero. Oh. I see. Well, Internet stardom is not at hand, I guess.

I apologize for not writing a report on last week's NDIIPP event on digital preservation. I will get to it. Soon.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Tighter Security

In the aftermath of the failed terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow, the United States Department of Homeland Security is increasing its security presence around airports and vital government/public buildings.

Haven't seen anything different out there. Still, the summer is starting off on a troublesome note.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Canada Day: In America!

At around noon today, I was informed by a few fellow Canadian colleagues at work that the Canadian Embassy down on Pennsylvania Avenue was celebrating Canada Day a few days early with free food, music, and overall good cheer. Being a Canadian away from home, I decided to go and experience Canada Day away from, well, Canada.

We took a taxi cab to the large embassy building (Canadian tax dollars hard at work, baby), and, upon nearing the entrance to the activity area, we were asked to produce a proof of identity (my Quebec license did the trick) and were searched with one of those airport wand devices. Canadians are calm people, so the process was painless, and we were cleared to enter the grounds.

Immediately, I was overwhelmed by the smoke pouring out from the numerous BBQ grills and the din of Canadians, friends of Canadians, Embassy employees--and even our Canadian Ambassador Michael Wilson--mulling around, chowing down on hot dogs, hamburgers and--is that what I think it is?--poutine!

Needless to say, I felt at home.

After 1 hamburger, 1 hot dog, 1 poutine (with real cheese curds), a Coke, and then a mini tour of the embassy (forgot my camera, sorry folks), I joined the crowd in signing O Canada in both official languages (well, I tried anyway).

After that stirring rendition, the speakers began blasting Billy Talent, a Canadian hard rock band (whose song is still ringing in my head), and I felt like shouting: "Vive le Quebec, Vive le Canada!" But I didn't; I restrained myself.

It's weird: Though I am working in the States, a country to whom I am thankful because it's been mainly in America where I have received a few breaks, I am still a proud Canadian, a proud Quebecois (even if my French is rusty), and a proud bombastic Montrealer (a city that has seen better days, sadly, but I hope will make a comeback).

So to all my Canadian readers: Happy Canada Day! And to all my American readers: I'll see you at the National Mall on the Fourth of July. God willing.

Monday, June 25, 2007

NDIIPP Seminar on Digital Preservation, June 25, 2007

I will write about the NDIIPP seminar on digital preservation tomorrow or sometime before mid-week. Must get my notes together first.

For now, enjoy the handful of pictures I took.

"Canadian Crippler" Chris Benoit R.I.P.

I am a huge wrestling fan, have been for well over 15 years, so long in fact that the passing of a "superstar" almost feels like the loss of a friend.

Quebec Montreal-born Chris Benoit, who without a doubt was the best technical wrestler in the ring, knowing all the moves and executing them almost flawlessly, was found dead today along with his wife and son in their Atlanta home. What a tragedy.

The Edmonton Sun reports....

Update: It appears that the deaths of Benoit, his wife Nancy and son Daniel were the result of a murder-suicide. This is even worse news!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Washington Radio

I am a big radio geek, and tuning in to Washington, DC's radio stations is a radio lover's paradise. From one end of the (mainly) FM dial to the other, there are radio stations that fit all tastes. From classic to country to rock to alt-rock right down to all news and all talk and that Jazz.

Currently, my favs are the following (check 'em out, most have online streaming):

Demos, Weekend Travels, Week Ahead

For the past couple of weeks, I have been organizing archives management software product demos, coordinating time and date and other details with vendors (most of which were overseas - so I had to factor in time zone differences as well).

Last week Thursday, I held the final product demo, and I was relieved that it was the final one. Overall, I believe I provided the team here--including myself; I really have no experience with these complex systems--with a better sense of the solutions available to archives. Now comes the evaluation phase.

This weekend was more business than pleasure. I sort of separate weekends into two categories: business and pleasure (with some blending now and then). Well this weekend was business - not much business accomplished, however, as I found myself wandering the streets of DC looking for this and that and not finding a single thing! Very frustrating. I eventually made my way across the Potomac to Arlington County, Virginia, where the sights and sounds of large-scale shopping malls beckoned.

This week at work I have to start planning my next steps now that the product demos have been completed. One of my main goals is to assess team reaction to the demos using an evaluation form I composed based on standard evaluation forms used widely around here. I also have to work collaboratively with team members on making the case to spend budget dollars on a new archives management system.

The weather is heating up once again to oven-like temperatures. Heat and humidity will be present for the next few days until Wednesday when a cold front will cool things down.

Time to kickstart the A/C!

Jefferson Memorial's Signs of Sinking Raise Fresh Alarms

Jefferson Memorial's Signs of Sinking Raise Fresh Alarms - "Jefferson Memorial's Signs of Sinking Raise Fresh Alarms"

While we are preserving the digital world, I guess we should not forget about our physical analog monuments and heritage.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Let the Fun Begin

So I turned on my PC this evening- and guess what I saw?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Overhead at the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Ave.

Three men in white shirts and khaki pants standing around a small table, handing out booklets, asking pedestrians:

"How will you prepare for World War 3?"

It's news stories like this...

It's news stories like this that make me worry about what will happen to the Internet when China becomes a superpower.

Insufficient Sleep, Increased Heart Disease Risk

After reading this article, the author of The DIGITAL Archive is ready to change his late-night ways.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Flickr: Capitol Hill and Library of Congress

I visited--and took several pictures of--the Capitol Hill neighborhood, which includes the Library of Congress, United States Supreme Court, and several Senate Office Buildings.

I must admit, the DC metro is impressive. There are stops at most if not all major points of interest. In this case, I stepped out of the Capitol South Metro station, walked up a block, and there I was face-to-face with Library of Congress area.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Event: Digital Preservation, Library of Congress, June 25, 2007

I was meaning to post this event earlier this week, but something called work interfered. Anyway...

On Monday, June 25, 2007, starting at 10:00 am, the National Digital Information infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) will hold "several informative and thought-provoking events" at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. (Full event info.)

On tap:

  • Archiving the Web
  • Copyright Laws in the era of widespread use of digital technologies
  • Preservation of vital digital content

All three sound interesting; the first and the last are particularly of interest. The event is timed to coincide with the American Library Association's Annual Meeting in Washington (maybe I'll scoot over there if I have some time).

Fellow archivist 2.0 bloggers, such as the folks behind ArchivesNext and, should take note.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Lightning, Thunder, Rain and Wind, Oh My!

This evening, between 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm local time, a cold front passed over the Washington area, clashing violently against the hot and humid (and oppressive) air, causing a dazzling lightning and thunder show with heavy rains and strong winds.

This was my very first DC thunderstorm. Impressive. Plenty of white flash lightning and several forked lightning bolts.

Thankfully, I did not lose electrical power or my DSL. (Not that they were on, mind you. That would not have been wise.) In any case, thank you, Pepco and Verizon.

As The World Sizzles

With the weather being so hot and humid in Washington, I added a temporary weather feed to The DIGITAL Archive. It appears on the right, above the "about" graphic.

That got me wondering about weather websites and weather RSS feeds. There are so many choices out there. Which one do you visit or subscribe to?

Hot and Humid

The weather forecast for Friday in Washington is somewhere in the mid-90s - that's 35+ celsius degrees. There's even a severe heat warning in effect.

Nope, not looking forward to this heat.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

SharePoint 2007 Coming Soon?

Today I attended a Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 seminar hosted by the institution where I work. The institution is planning to deploy SharePoint 2007 sooner (or later).

While the seminar at times drifted towards the developers among the audience, I managed to pick out the 2 main objectives behind the deployment of SharePoint 2007:

  1. Introduce a robust Content Management system
  2. Introduce a culture of Collaboration through personal spaces, shared spaces, blogs, wikis, etc

Like I said, the seminar tended to focus on ASP.NET, .NET, DLLs, but I learned enough to realize the potential of, for example, Web Parts, small programmable widgets that pulled or pushed content via RSS that one could easily add to a SharePoint "My Site."

The web guy in me loved that part; meanwhile, the archivist, the other guy, wondered about how the system would capture metadata, and preserve, content of long-term and historical value stored in SharePoint. Records managers and archivists and information professionals were in the audience, posing a few questions about that. But today was the day to celebrate the immediate SharePoint 2007 pay-off. The other issues, I suppose, will be tackled when that proverbial you know what hits the fan.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Monday, June 04, 2007

Non-Profit Sector Jobs

I was glad to read Ed's follow-up post this morning on what I had written yesterday about the need for LIS grads to consider employment opportunities beyond the usual, highly promoted sectors (i.e. academic, public, government, corporate).

While library schools may begin to promote alternative sectors to new grads, I think for now the onus remains with us, collectively and individually, to seek out employment that is located in other areas - and that reflect more closely our values, our goals, our objectives.

Now I do not know the demographics of my readers, but if there are in fact new LIS grads or grads who just started working in the field reading this, I would recommend that they look carefully at alternative sectors: non-profit or otherwise.

Nothing wrong with academic libraries or government libraries; there are certainly interesting opportunities to be found there. But the truth is, at least from my experience, that these sectors have far more applicants than open positions.

And we all know what that means.

UPDATE: The website bills itself as Canada's leading source of information on the non-profit and voluntary sector.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Apple iPhone Coming June 29

While watching (American) television this evening--I think it was "60 Minutes"--I saw what appears to be the first teaser commercial for the new Apple iPhone.

It's coming, June 29. Mark you calendars. No Canadian launch date (if at all).

Engaget has a news page, and Apple has uploaded the commericals.

UPDATE: The iPhone will use AT&T Wireless.

Values and Career Paths

Back in late May, Ed wrote a post in which he cited a website called Charity Village, an online resource that lists jobs in the Canadian non-profit sector.

His post resonated with me because, after giving it some thought, I realized that the non-profit sector is not mentioned much as an option to library school grads. It also made me realize the importance of taking stock of one's personal values as one embarks on a career path.

For me, after graduating from library school, I had been instilled with the idea that employment in the library and information studies field could only be found in distinct sectors: academic libraries, public libraries, government agencies, and, to a lesser extent, corporate environments.

For the most part, these popular sectors offer LIS grads their very first post-MLIS job, a successful and satisfying experience, and perhaps even a long-term career path. (As I write this I am, in fact, an employee of an international government organization.)

But sometimes a restlessness surfaces after, say, 2 years on the job. There is a feeling inside of wanting to put one's skills, abilities, talents and knowledge towards something than truly reflects one's values. I use the word values, which has been maligned when used in conjunction with words such as family or religious, as another way of saying one's personal code of conduct, what one holds accountable when making a decision, for example. To create a super hero analogy: How will we use our powers?

For new LIS grads and young professionals already in their second of third year of employment, I encourage all to take stock and check your values against your current job. How are you using your powers.

And, from time to time, as yourself these questions:

  1. Where do I want to work? What sector?
  2. Do I want to work behind-the-scenes or under a spotlight?
  3. What motivates me?
  4. Do I want to develop professionally, learning new skills, or remain with only the necessary skills set to perform my given tasks?
  5. What am I passionate about?

There are certainly more questions, and there are no right or wrong answers to those mentioned above. However, how you answer them could very well change and improve your career path.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Interesting People, Interesting Blogs (Part 7)

Another installment to what has become a personal favorite of mine.

I came across Dan Cohen's Digital Humanities Blog while examining one of his books, Digital history: a guide to gathering, preserving, presenting the past on the web (which seems like an equally good read as well, but that's another topic).

I like this blog because it focuses on how research in the humanities can benefit from current and emerging technologies such as digitization and Web 2., including a cool Firefox add-on called Zotero, a social bookmarking and citation organizer tool that harnesses the community of researchers in the humanities field. Very cool.

Then again...

I decided against pimping my blog. It seems none of the layouts Blogger provides really interests me or at least the content of the blog. Stay tuned while I review my layout options.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pimp my Blog

After kicking the tires on the brand new (and hopefully improved) blog, I decided it was time to take the old template of The DIGITAL Archive and replace it with a brand-spanking new one, fitted with the latest in blog flux capacitors. (Okay, it's a little late, forgive my movie/pop culture references.)

I will talk a little more about the changes in another post. For now I just wanted to write something down to notify my legion of readers (yes, all two of you) that I am working on making this blog, well, better.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A new look

Testing a new look and some new features...

Sunday, May 20, 2007 Updated

I spent the last couple of hours revisiting my experimental website called My so-called Social Bookmarking Blog for Research Archivists has been dormant for some time, too long, in my opinion.

I believe the reason is I really have no time to 1) scan the headlines on or about digitization and digital preservation and 2) post them to the blog.

That said, I decided to not only revamp the page layout and design but to update the Blogger template from the old static version to the new dynamic layout, where one can click and drag page elements across the template. Each page element has some pretty powerful features such as being able to grab RSS feeds. It is so easy, it is dummy proof.

With the redesign I hope the blog becomes more useful because now, without any further intervention on behalf, the blog is pulling in content from across the web: news items, delicious tags, videos, etc. I love it, and I hope you will too!


Military blogs--or Milblogs, for shorts--are blogs that are written by members of the military who chronicle their experiences in conflicts, typically the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Blogs and milblogs are re-entering my radar because I still wonder if and how archivist intend on preserving these first-hand accounts of war that historians would love to read in the future.

Should we preserve blogs or milblogs? What would you consider historical value: the content of a blog or the blog page itself? How can we preserve blogs? What is going on out there in your part of the world?

Musical Exports

Speaking of music, Canadian rock band Nickelback is the big musical export around Washington, DC (and most likely the rest of the U.S.). Not a day goes by that I do not hear on local radio stations the Hanna, Alberta-born rockers roaring their vocals and heavy guitar chords. It's quite something, small-town Canadian band makes it real big in America.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Did you know?

From time to time (though lately the distance between time to time has been steadily growing, to my dismay), I come across an interesting bit of functionality that a piece of software can perform that is perhaps not widely known. In my last installment, I discovered an RSS reader inside Adobe Acrobat Professional.
Now this time around, I discovered--make that, I read about--a feature in Winamp (the free mp3 media player and good alternate to Windows Media Player) that is not widely known or used.
So all you audiophiles listen up.

Interested in listening to XM Satellite Radio but don't have the cash to shell for a radio receiver and a subscription? No problem. Download Winamp or, if you already have it installed, launch it and I will tell how to access free, legit XM Radio stations.

1. Download or launch the latest version of Winamp (I'm using version 5.35, the full free download).

2. Press Alt-L to open the Media Library. A two pane window should appear to the left of the Winamp player.

3. In the left most window pane, where there are clickable menus and sub-menu, click on Online Services.

4. In the middle window pane a list of available Winamp services will appear.

5. Scroll down until you see AOL Radio featuring XM. There is an unchecked box. Check the box. (See picture.)

6. Now back in the left most window pane, beneath Online Services, there should be a new sub-menu item: AOL Radio with XM. Click on that sub-menu item.

7. In the middle window pane browse through the available radio stations by musical genre or time period. (See picture.)

8. Select a station. Sit back and enjoy.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


The microblogging space is expanding.

Microblogging, which is the blogging equivalent of a news flash, that is one is given 140 characters to describe current status and/or activities, has a new player on the scene.

Besides the hugely popular (and growing) Twitter service, there is Jaiku, a Finnish-based service offering the same microblogging capabilities but with a few more extra features, including importing blogs, RSS feeds, photos, videos, etc. I like Jaiku, but I find these extra features a little too much for a microblogging tool. Time will tell if this concept will catch on.

I suspect that Twitter will eventually add more functionality to Twitter. But I would recommend that they take it slow. I think most users, like myself, are still trying to figure out the real value of this tool. I am convinced there is something here, but like most Web 2.0 beta / gamma productions, the participation and creativeness of the consumer typically defines the purpose of the product.

For those who are just starting using Twitter (or Jaiku), I suggest using the tool as a personal "news flash" system. Here are a few examples that I have seen from fellow Twitters.

1. Notification: Notify users about an update to your blog or website
2. Invitation: Invite users to join you for an online event such as a virtual meeting in Second Life or a live broadcast on
3. Share: Sharing thoughts, activities. You never know who may read it and comment back.

Have more ideas? Please share.

For more information, the UMBC eBiquity blog provides a very comprehensive overview of microblogging.

The debate will continue over the "real" value of microblogging. In the meantime, open an account and dip your toes into the water.

Friday, May 11, 2007

FRIDAY FUN: Conan - Lucasfilm, Part 2

A little bit of fun for a Friday.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Interesting People, Interesting Blogs (Part 6)

In this installment of my long-running series, I found a blog called ArchivesNext. It is a blog that focuses on "what's next" for the archival field - how can new web technologies (Web 2.0) transform archives and access to archives collections.

I have not read the blog in its entirety, but I am very encouraged by its About this Blog page.

This blog will attempt to identify what might be “next” for archival institutions by:

1) Exploring Web 2.0 applications and discussing their applicability to archival institutions.

2) Identifying existing innovative uses of web technology in archives and related fields.

3) Discussing how applicable the existing archival business model is in the current and emerging information environment, and proposing modifications or a whole new model.

4) Hopefully engaging readers in a dialog about these issues–I am by no means an expert in any of these areas. I am learning and hopefully some of the four or five people who read this blog will share with me and the other readers what they know or raise questions. I can’t be the one interested in this.

5) Probably doing some other stuff as well.

Please do pay ArchivesNext a visit.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Off to UCSB

No, not me.

A big congratulations goes out to my good buddy Ryun, who recently accepted a Metadata Specialist position at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Good luck, Ryun!
What a beautiful campus - people actually work here?!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Weaving the Archivist Web

By now I think it is quite clear to readers of this blog that posts concerning work will not appear here in any shape or form. The projects that I am working are confidential for the moment - and perhaps for a few more months to come.

Besides confidentiality, there are legal issues. And considering that I am living and working in the United States, the last thing I would want to do is stir a sleeping lawyer. Let sleeping lions lay, as they say.

But there are some things worth mentioning: the importance of digital archives management and preservation is growing. As more collections are digitized, the more there is a real need to take on the challenge of managing digital assets and preserving their long-term or permanent value in their born-digital or converted-to-digital state.

There is also a growing need to allow for improved and increased access to collections, both paper-based and digital. The future of archivists--those individuals recording, managing and preserving the activities and memory of an institution for posterity--lies not only in controlling the material they work with on a daily basis but in giving the collections a chance to see the light of day. Not every piece of a collection is a gem (trust me, I know); but there are sufficient materials to showcase that will indeed stir interest - and hopefully stir further interest in archives, demystify the profession, and shatter of few stereotypes.

  • Digitizing collections (for access and/or preservation purposes)
  • Improved and increased access to digital collections (user-friendly web access)
  • Digital management and preservation procedures and protocols (research and practical approach to managing and preserving digital assets).

Together they form a storyline of the future of archives, I believe.

Truth is, dear readers, The DIGITAL Archive is not a promo for archives; rather, it is call to archives and archivists, as other information-centric professionals have done, to acknowledge the potential and power that the web and web technologies can have on the field.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lord of the Rings Online, Reality TV, Archive This

Lord of the Rings Online

The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar computer game is creating a real buzz. The immersive 3-D world, inspired by J.R.R. Tolkein's admired and acclaimed series of stories, puts players in a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) where hundreds of thousands of players can become their favourite elf, dwarf, or beloved hobbit.

These "world games," such as Lord of the Rings Online and the popular Second Life, are evidence of the future direction of computer games. They demonstrate the ability for players to create alternate realities that evolve and expand just as things do in real life.

I am waiting in anticipation for Star Trek Online. I always thought that such an online game would be a smash hit.

Reality TV

My first encounter with reality television was Survivor, the very first season, where the cut-throat cabals promoted each week fueled the show to its pop culture status. Nowadays, ever since I got cable TV here in DC, I am exposed to so many more reality television shows, it's insane. Everything from American Idol and Pussycat Dolls to Run's House and some other weird music / talent oriented television shows on MTV and VH1.

As bad as some these shows get (some are real stinkers), they sort of invoke the Web 2.0 principal of user-generated content. Content is being created by those American Idol singers; content is created by teenager girls in black lingerie and red boas competing to become the next Pussycat Dolls girl. It's no longer big name actors, it seems, but rather ordinary "users" (or viewers) who are dominating the television landscape.

Archive This

Blogs. Archive this blog or any other blog for that matter. I think about millitary bloggers in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are primary source material, rich with information and insight for any future researcher or historian. But who's archiving these blogs?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Weekend, Go Pro, Mourning, Government Job, Sirens


It's Friday evening (actually a little past midnight and a little past my bed time - my oh my), so that means the weekend is finally here. I don't think I need to elaborate on my relief and happiness.

Go Pro

I finally went Pro with my Flickr account. I suspect this move will encourage (read: force) me to take more photographs since I have no limits in photo uploads and improved functionality with managing my photos.


Washington, DC and the surrounding area observed a moment of silence this afternoon in remembrance of those Virginia Tech students and professors who were mercilessly killed by that gunman.

When NBC presented the gunman's video--his twisted manifesto from the grave--it made me sick to stomach seeing the gunman pose in front of his digital camera, wielding a hunting knife and pointing his pistols. What made me ill was that I had seen these same poses back in September 2006 by another gunman: the Dawson College shooter, another loner, hater of society, and murderer.

Government Jobs

I received some unfortunate news this afternoon via email. But first a little background to this story. In October of last year I applied for a position in the Government of Canada. This position was seeking a pool of candidates that would be called on in the next 12 to 24 months.

In February of this year (just prior to accepting this current position in Washington, DC), I wrote and passed a written government test and had an in-person interview a few weeks later. I thought I did very well on both counts. If I passed, the plan in my mind went, I would most likely have a government contract lined up right after my 12-month contract in Washington, DC ended. Sadly, the bad news arrived in my inbox. I am out of the running. I could say so much but let's just say that landing a Government job in Ottawa is akin to landing on the moon using a hot air balloon.


There's always the sound of a siren filling the night air, especially on Friday nights.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wwwindy, Virginia Tech Gunman


It was another windy day in Washington, DC. The weather has been very unseasonable; even to long time residents of the city, the weather is a real puzzle. The forecasters predict an eventual change in the days ahead, perhaps by the weekend. I, for one, cannot wait (for the weekend or change in weather). In the meantime, while I wait, I've become somewhat of a weather junkie.

My WeatherBug Vista Widget fires up on startup, and my bookmarks include WeatherBug's website, Accutweather, and The Weather Network.

Virginia Tech Gunman

As I walking home this evening, I noticed that U.S. Flags atop buildings, as well as other flags, were at half staff. Seeing that, the terrible, senseless events that transpired yesterday (April 16) at Virginia Tech hit home. The town of Blacksburg, Virginia, is relatively close to the Washington, DC area. Not next door, close, but close enough.

The shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, a Virginia Tech student from South Korea who immigrated to the United States and described by peers as a loner (not surprisingly) with a violent imagination (not surprisingly), created carnage on the peaceful campus with his legally purchased pistols.

According to police, the shooter left a rambling note in his dorm room blaming everyone for what had happened.

"The gunman in the Virginia Tech massacre was a sullen loner who alarmed professors and classmates with his twisted, violence-drenched creative writing and left a rambling note in his dorm room raging against women and rich kids."

There is clear and distinct trend with these loner gunmen: A gradual isolation from society and from reality, a re-creation of reality in their own minds based on being victimized by a group of "others," and then fueled by revenge fantasies and believing with almost religious fervor of their right to revenge and to judge and carry out judgement against the "others."

The story always begins and ends the same way. A plan is made, weapons are bought (legally in this case), havoc is created, death taints the hallways, and the gunmen, perhaps in that final moment of burning rage realizes what he has done decides to kill his last foe, himself.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Weather Woes, School Shooting

Weather Woes

Another week dawns here in Washington, DC, and yet another day of unseasonably wet and cold weather. Since late last night, the wind has blown with fierce strength, shuddering my windows and the tree right outside. The rain comes and goes, more so in large splatters than a drizzle.

Wet and miserable. I keep my browser bookmarked to Accuweather.

School Shooting

I was listening to the radio when a breaking news alert sounded and a reporter came on the air explaining that shots had been fired, and casualties reported, at Virginia Tech. I was shocked and saddened by the news, by the closeness of the news. Virginia is just across the Potomac River.

As the tragic story unfolded, more casualties were reported. First 2, then 13, then 22. Now as I write this post, the number stands at 33. However, the number may change if those hospitalized do not make it through the night. I send my thoughts and prayers to those families affected by tragedy.

I love universities for their tranquility--I appreciate the campus grounds, the atmosphere of learning, pursuing a cause for the greater good--but this horrible event attacks the very peaceful nature of a university.

More news is emerging about the shooter, the weapons used, and possible motives on a minute by minute basis, it seems. In the days ahead there will be talk of gun control (if weapons used were illegally acquired), immigration reform (if the deceased shooter turns out be a non-U.S. citizen), and administrative preparedness and planning (if the administration is found to have acted too slowly in the face of the incident). Not to mention, a parade of copycat shooters and false alarms.

However, one light emerged from all this: I was in awe by how the students, in the midst of the tragedy, harnessed the power of the Internet to notify friends and family--and subsequently the media--about their whereabouts and status. Facebook, blogs, IM, text messenging, etc were all focused on delivering information. Why should I be surprised by their technological know-how. These kids, after all, are children of the Internet Age, an age gifted with endless possibilities but sadly shadowed by ageless malevolence and unspeakable acts.

Like Columbine and Dawson College, Virginia Tech lost something today.

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.