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.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Nor'easter, Work, MP3 R.I.P.

"Rain drops keep falling on my head..."

What an appropriate song for the weekend. Since Friday the weather in Washington, DC, has steadily become more cloudy and rainy. Today, Sunday, for instance, it is raining very hard. Not much one can do outside in such wet, miserable weather.

The weather system is in fact part of a much larger storm system that is pushing north east. A Nor'easter, as the locals call it, should bring heavy downpours, possible flooding to low-lying areas, and maybe even snow to my family and friends in south eastern Quebec and the Ottawa Valley.


"X-Files..." at Work

When I started working at my new job in DC I was eager to blog about it. Initially, I set up a code of conduct in which I decided not to blog about specific projects but rather general, big picture items that I felt were in certain cases related to my professional and personal interests in the web, web content delivering, and web technologies. (I believe I can continue to do this, but read on below.)

But as I begin to move deeper into my projects, even after only one month on the job, the level of confidentiality and security are increasing to the point that if I blog about something even in the abstract I may jeopardize the overall goals of the work I have been contracted to perform.

I wish I did not have to impose these restrictions - after all, through blogging, I can express comments and ideas that stir more ideas in my head and enables me to connect with others with similar interests or work - but this is the nature of the work.

I will continue to report periodically about work; and once the veil of confidentiality and secrecy are lifted (that is, once the projects move into the public domain, as they ultimately will) I should be able to blog in more detail.

There is more to add. But I will leave that until I feel more able to express them.

"MP3 R.I.P."

I read with a tear in my eye the passing of Ed's mp3 player. You see I have a similar mp3 player right beside me - it's red (the only color Wal-Mart had in stock), has 512MB, and fills up faster than a ship with a cracked hull, especially since I became hooked on podcasts. Signs of age are creeping in: Battery latch is broken, resulting in me using Scotch tape to keep the AAA battery in place. Update: Ed is now the proud owner of an 30GB iPod. I'll be reading closely his experiences with his new iPod.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Twitter, SQPN, and the Social Web

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been reading blogs describing and discussing Twitter, a micro-blogging tool that allows people to post brief messages to their friends and (in Twitter parlance) followers. A sort of breaking news service for bloggers, where one is limited to 140 characters. Noted blogger, Robert Scoble, does a fair job in this video in describing Twitter.

Like many new Web 2.0 technologies, I still do not know the usefulness or potential of Twitter. So in true journalistic style, in order to fully grasp the meaning of this Twitter thing, I opened an account and started Twittering.

One person in particular convinced me to investigate Twitter; that someone is a person you would least likely expect to be interested in the Web. A Catholic priest. Father Roderick Vonhögen, a podcasting priest from The Netherlands, mixes his faith with his passion for technology across his SQPN podcasting network. His hallmark podcast is a daily show called Daily Breakfast (subscribe), and I must admit, I am hooked. In was during one of his shows that he mentioned Twitter and how he was using it to keep his colleagues updated on his work and travels.

If you are easily offended by religious talk, then maybe this website is not appropriate for you. However, if you want to listen to someone who is truly enthusiastic about podcasting, then Father Roderick and his growing list of quality podcasts is definitely for you.

The social web. Sometimes I am amazed by how fast this area of the web is growing, and how people, particularly teens and young adults, are adopting these technologies and using them in incredible ways.

I feel almost left behind.

What were my peers doing at this time?

We were busy with Nintendo's Duck Hunt Light Gun and copying music tapes using dual-cassette recorders. I guess. The good old days.

Monday, April 09, 2007

You 2.0

You 2.0
Originally uploaded by siansleep.
There is increasing talk about collaborative software where I work that I am hearing managers and senior managers and even the Chief Information Officer talk about blogs, wikis, IM, social bookmarking, podcasts, etc as major projects in need of implementation.

Welcome to the Corporate Web 2.0. This is getting good.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Belated Blog Birthday and Reminiscing

Back on March 4, 2005, I wrote my first post to The DIGITAL Archive blog, which detailed the McGill University Archives project called digitalpermanence. I cannot believe that time--blog time, shall we say--has passed so quickly.

Today as I write this post, we are April 5, 2007. That means on March 4, 2007, The DIGITAL Archive blog turned 2 years old. Unbelievable. I didn't think I would maintain such a long connection with this blog.

As I scrolled through the months and number of posts, and stopped at some which caught me, I saw where a blog such as mine--a few external links, lots of observations, work-related or otherwise--becomes a diary or online journal, a history of my life that I choose to commit to Blogger and share with the public. The blog entries reveal memories and worries and thoughts and plans all in the context of that single moment.

The time I started to chronicle the progress of a project; the time I resigned from McGill; the time I found a web design job following my resignation; the time when I accepted a contract in Washington, DC. And my on-going 'adventures' in the U.S. capital.

Monday, April 02, 2007

April Fool's On Me

I was had. I can't believe it. I was had by Google. Blame it on my new surroundings. My brain was not as sharp as it should have been.

Yesterday's so-called announcement by Google saying that it would print out emails and mail them to the recipient free of charge was a hoax. An April Fool's Joke. Gawd.

Like I said, Blame it on my new surroundings. My unfurnished apartment. My tired mind. My...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Welcome to Gmail

Welcome to Gmail: "Introducing Gmail Paper "

In my latest incarnation as digital archives archivist, I have been tasked to develop procedures and protocols for the preservation of electronic assets, including emails, enterprise data, websites, etc.

Now I read that Google's Gmail is giving its users the option to request PRINT COPIES of their emails, a free service (paid for by ads) provided by Google.

Is this a digital preservation white flag...?

I cannot forget what my former supervisor once told me: "You know, we may just end up printing everything and storing the paper. Far easier and cheaper than digital preservation."

PC World - Living With Vista: First 30 Days

PC World - Living With Vista: First 30 Days: "Living With Vista: First 30 Days"

For me, I am experiencing compatibility issues with Symantec's Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition. The program is installed, but not detected by Vista; and, of course, I cannot uninstall because that is just the way Symantec works.

How you coping with Windows Vista?

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.