Monday, June 30, 2008

Stormy Seas for the Twitter 'Fail Whale'

Interesting People, Interesting Blogs (Part 10)

Wowza! This is the tenth--yes, tenth!--installment of one of my favourite blog post categories. Interesting People, Interesting Blogs, where I write about a blog that recently caught my attention (and drive server-crashing traffic to its doors). Well, maybe not, but I certainly hope I am shedding light on an interesting blog.

The tenth installment goes to an archivist named Heather, blogging over at Archives Found. The blog's tag line caught my eye: "Making history more accessible, one story at a time." In the about section, Heather elaborates on the goals of her blog:

I wanted to choose a catchy title, something that spoke about the experiences that I’m having, and that I hope to have in the future. An overgeneralization that works here– when I meet people for the first time, and we do the dance of the “what do you do? I’m in marketing, blah… how about you?” and I mention that I am an archivist, the general response is to ask what, exactly an archivist is. The same reaction happens when I mentioned that I was attending graduate school for library science– not only is there confusion about what an archivist is, but there’s also the much-hated response of “You need a master’s degree to check out books?” It seems that there is a need for general education regarding the fields of librarianship, archives, and even records management.

I have not drilled very deep into the content. But if someone is keen on making history more accessible, then I am in.

Take a Survey, Feel Good

If you are like me, feeling a bit under the weather (and we all know those summer colds are the worst), or even if you feel good and wish to feel even better, visit ArchivesNext and respond to the survey that is being conducted. The survey is titled: Attending SAA this year?

I like surveys and the results one can gleam from them. I found the survey I conducted a while back was very helpful and even insightful.

Of course, the more participation, the better. So head on over to ArchivesNext.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Technical Snafus

Due to a few unforseen technical snafus with The DIGITAL Archive's primary author and editor (cough cough, hack hack), there will be a break in blog posts. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Friday Abstract (II): Spore Creature Creator



If creating fantastic creatures, great and small, and watching them evolve, play, fight and breed is something you are interested in, then may I interest you in Electronic Arts' Creature Creator PC game? The free trial Creature Creator game is a design tool and part of a much larger--and highly anticipated--game called Spore, created by Will Wright, the brains behind such hits as The Sims and SimCity, to be released in September 2008.

From Macworld.com, reporter Peter Cohen writes:

Spore Creature Creator is a design tool that lets you craft your own alien critter. It’s a small component of Spore, an upcoming game from EA designed by Will Wright, the legendary creator of The Sims and Sim City. And in Spore, you affect the evolution of a race of beings from single-celled organisms swimming around in tidal pools all the way up to their emergence as a space-faring civilization. It’s the ultimate “God” game from one of the genre’s pioneers.


In a moment of divine creativity, I created (make that, assembled) a little alien creature I call Hugo and son, who are featured in the video above. Below is Rico, of the horned-knee creatures.

The Friday Abstract(I): Trippy DAy


digitalpermanence Tags
Originally uploaded by siansleep
This is The DIGITAL Archive. Now this is The DIGITAL Archive on, er, well, on wordle.net.

Go to wordle.net and you will understand what I mean.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

4 Steps to Building an Online Profile

As more users participate in the social web, partaking in social networks for personal and often professional reasons, I think it is important to write a simple, practical, and representational online profile, particularly if users are seeking to attract new clients or potential employers.

The following are guidelines I developed to help you compose an online profile. To remember them quickly, think "The 4 F's": FORMAL, FACTS, FUNCTIONS, and FUN.

Let's start!

1) FORMAL: State who you are, in either first or third person, using either your current job title or your professional title, giving some emphasis to your area of speciality. Briefly.

For example:

I am an electronic records manager, focusing on managing digitized records and enterprise resource planning data;

OR

Robert Grant is an electronic records consultant, supporting clients transition from paper to digital records

2) FACTS: State your educational qualifications and work experience. Briefly.

For example:

I have a B.A. in History, B.Sc. in Computer Science, and a Master of Library and Information Studies, with 4 years work experience in an educational institution and a medical library

3) FUNCTIONS: State what you have done in those years of education and work experience. Briefly.

For example:

I designed and implemented a new taxonomy and trained staff and senior administration;

OR

Robert Grant has re-designed several websites, improving navigation and content accessibility, and making these websites the hub of information delivery

4) FUN: Express your personality using the most succinct and passionate words that describe you, while explaining how these qualities enrich your work. Ask family, friends, professors, employers (past and present), if necessary.

For example:

I am a creative, innovative, and team-oriented individual, whose passion for people, technology and libraries direct my decisions and work ethic.

Use The 4 Fs wisely, and add your own uniqueness to them, and I am certain your online profile will get noticed.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Vincent Cerf Gets It!

From the Special Library Association (SLA) conference, being held in Seattle from June 15-18, SearchEngineWatch.com reports that Vincent Cerf, Google's Vice-President, expressed concern over the state of digital preservation.

In an interview with Charlie Rose held at the SLA Conference, Cerf said "he’s deeply concerned about digital preservation and the 'born digital' challenge; he hopes to avoid a 'bit pile' of inaccessible, extinct content and urged companies to open up development for digital preservation applications."

Vincent Cerf gets it!

Will companies, organizations, institutions and hard-headed, stubborn senior admin types also get it?

Of Facebook and Friends

A few months ago, after several promptings by colleagues, I decided to join Facebook, the hugely popular social networking website. I was hesitant to join because I had seen another successful social networking website, MySpace, and was repulsed by its noisy layout and design. However, Facebook seemed different—more streamlined, more accessible, I guess you could say—and for the not so easily impressed critic inside me that was enough reason to take the plunge.

Besides, I thought, I could connect with a few old friends.

But my introduction to Facebook was more sobering than anything else.

In a matter of minutes, I discovered two friends who had been my best friends when I was a kid. These two guys were the best. We were all roughly nine years old, give or take a few months between our birthdays. We’d go bike riding around the neighbourhood from dawn ‘till dusk; we celebrated birthdays; we’d set out for adventures downtown, where we’d catch a few movies; and we’d play sports, like street hockey or parking lot baseball, on the weekends and during the summer when school broke for holidays.

The summer sun was endless, the fun was endless, and life was sweet. We enjoyed this life for many, many years until circumstances, such as college, work, and family relocation, slowly took us into different directions. We lost touch, for the most part, only seeing each other briefly at university (in the halls) or on the bus or train.

But I never forgot those guys or those days. How could I? Can one really forget those days, when one was nine years old? I loved them; I loved us, those crazy kids on their bikes, innocent, without a single care in the world other than finding out the time for our favourite cartoon show and the release date of the latest Nintendo video game.

On Facebook, however, I barely recognized their faces. The oldest member of our trio was–let me call him “Big T”—was the sports fanatic and music lover. He introduced me to baseball as well as to hip-hop music (KRS-One, Boogie Down Productions, remember them?). As a kid, “Big T’s” dream was to become a professional baseball player and a rapper. He had a passion for both.

In checking out his Facebook profile, and in chatting with him, he had become an occupational therapist by day and a Deep House music DJ by night, hosting his own late night/early hours show on the Internet. His passion for music never waned, only transformed into something different. His passion has made him widely recognized and well-travelled. Awesome!

Meanwhile, the youngest member of our trio – let me call him “Lil L”—was the book reading, D&D playing, adventure-seeking free spirit. He introduced me to role-playing games (D&D, AD&D, RIFTS) and to the then still embryonic world of PC games (the hilarious Space Quest series). We’d bike a lot together, through forest paths, getting bitten by mosquitoes, and to the outer limits of our neighbourhood, which was very far for our little kid navigational senses. His mother would take us to baseball games and museums and his grandmother would serve us lemonade and share her air-conditioned apartment on especially hot and humid summer days.

As a kid, “Lil L,” much like myself, loved role-playing games. We loved conjuring up stories for our role-playing characters. The more stories we made up, the more fun we had. Personally, I found making up stories and watching friends become engrossed very satisfying, as I often came up with one story after another. Some good, some duds, and some with the right mixture of mystery and action that I even surprised myself. At one point, during one of those tension-filled story moment, “Lil L” asked me, “How do you come up with all these stories?” It was a question I could not answer. I was afraid to answer. I didn't quite know; they just came. But the question stuck with me for many years. My imagination, it seemed, was rearing its newborn head.

On Facebook, I honestly could not recognize “Lil L” because the profile image I saw was that of a man carrying a baby. The shiny kid face I had known was replaced by a glowing fatherly face, complete with goatee and sunglasses, and in his arms he held his child. “Lil L” was married with two young boys and worked with a large telcom company. His wife was not the girl who he had an endless crush on as a kid, but someone else. His two boys had their father’s free spirit look (in a few short years, I thought, they will be biking around the neighbourhood from dawn ‘till dusk).

Sadly, I also learned that his mother, who had set up birthday parties and trips to baseball games, had died a few years back. I could not swallow that revelation. I had known her, and now she was gone. Not sick or ailing, but dead. I was stunned, shocked, in disbelief. And as clich├ęd as it may sound, I felt something die in me.

This is not what I expected from Facebook. I expected connecting, social networking, old friends, new friends, super walls and super pokes. Instead, I experienced sad, painful nostalgia.

The faces I remembered were from a different time; the faces I now saw on Facebook were changed by time and circumstances, for better or for worse. And the time we had known together, that I had known so thoroughly and enjoyed immensely, which I kept tucked away safely in a protected memory center, to be retrieved every so often, had moved on.

I clicked logout, something I would often do in the months after I joined Facebook. And I never bookmarked the website.

Nowadays, I hardly use Facebook. That’s not to say Facebook has no value in the future. But for me, at this time, I am content with the social networking websites and tools I use and the online friends I have. I do not wish to allocate any more time to Facebook.

If one of Facebook’s purposes was to assist users reconnect with old friends with a few clicks, it certainly succeeded. Though not its fault, Facebook simply failed to mention that a few clicks can also mean opening doors to the past that, in retrospect, should be approached cautiously and in some cases sometimes remain closed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Birth of the Web Ego-Maniacs

I am noticing a troubling trend among the user-created content set. Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong supporter of user-created content, particularly when it is well-produced, entertaining, educational, and engaging and exhibits the fundamentals of Web 2.0 (social).

There are numerous websites (and more on the horizon, I bet) that enable users, like you and me, to publish our thoughts and ideas. There are blogs, naturally, wikis, photo-sharing sites, and, as broadband surges forward, the proliferation of podcasts and videoblogs.

Equipped with a laptop, web camera (or a camera-enabled cell phone), and a high-speed Internet connection, one can record shows or even broadcast live across the Web. There’s Youtube, of course, and there is Y!Live, Ustream.tv, Viddler, Vimeo, Qik, Kyte.tv, Flixwagon.com, and many more. All worth checking out, if you like.

But I am seeing a trend that I do not like among these websites:

First, I am seeing the same user faces across all these websites. It’s as though a dozen or so of these pro-bloggers or pro-vloggers are taking up much of the space and sadly with some less than stellar material. I don’t want to name names, although I assume some would not mind the additional attention.

Secondly, the material that is being produced, while "live" and "dynamic" (yeah, crossing the street, yeah), is for the most part pointless and trivial. Enough with the crap! You’re clogging up the arteries of the Internet with these narcissistic, self-indulgent videos.

Mind you, I am not condemning these top bloggers and vloggers, these shameless pluggers, because they are largely friendly folks with good intentions and some have found a recipe for success, being able to make a living off this new media lifestyle. These top vloggers have their good moments, true, but they should save their ramblings, pontifications, and walks through their basements and their freak-outs for their personal hard drives, not the Web.

Monday, June 16, 2008

How Blogs Can Save Your Career

Earlier this week I had lunch with a friend, a fellow library school grad. We had a conversation about professional development…or the lack thereof. We both graduated in the same year and we both had a roller-coaster ride during our first years in the library and information field following graduation.

While he has found himself as a librarian in a documentation centre and I continue to carve out a new career path altogether, we both agreed that professional development in the field (or any field, for that matter) had to improve.

“Aside from attending a few local conferences,” he explained, “I haven’t done much or learned much. I just do what I have to do at work. That’s it.”

I was shocked by his indifference. “So what do you do to stay current?” I asked.

“I read a few journals, but that’s about it.”

I told him that I had attended roughly 4 conferences / seminars / workshops in my 8 year career. And I bemoaned the fact that I had I wanted to attend more to learn, to connect, to meet with my peers, but was thwarted by a number of setbacks, including the usual limited budget.

Placing the blame on the usual suspects, such as limited funds, indifferent employers, or the limitations imposed on contractual positions, can often alleviate the frustration, but it does not erase the truth: professional development is a must.

In 2002, Barbara Quint, editor of Searcher Magazine, wrote a very insightful column in the July/August issue of the magazine. In reflecting on her career path, and offering advice to her readers, she stated boldly:

“When an information professional stops learning, they start dying, or at least their career does. And any information professional in this day and age, with all the changes upon us and more coming, who does not or cannot allot a significant portion of their work time to learning and study will not be able to perform well the job they have now for much longer, much less the future jobs they should have.”


I agree 100% With contractual positions, as I have been in over the years, the employer’s interest, for better or for worse, is to ensure the work he or she has planned gets done, not necessarily to support the professional development of the person hired.

So what should one do?

As I walked down the bustling streets, I was caught in my thoughts, wondering how I have managed to stay current (more or less) despite being on contracts or, more recently, unemployed.

One word kept surfacing: blogs.

Seriously, if it were not for the many library and archives, Web 2.0, new media, digitization, digital preservation bloggers and social networkers on the Web, I would be far, far behind the curve.

It is thanks to those who, in the spirit of sharing, write and talk about their work, projects, ideas either daily, bi-weekly, weekly or monthly that I have been able to stay current in the field.

I hesitate to list the blogs I read, so as not to alienate anyone, but my blogroll is to the right, and I continue to add to the list.

I believe in the power of blogs, their immediacy, their intimacy, and their uncanny ability to auto-generate communities, because I know I have benefitted from them and learned from them. And continue to do so.

For example: How did I find out about Twitter? Through a podcast I heard. How did I find out about the latest happenings in education and libraries? Through several bloggers whose daily commentaries are food for thought. What prompted me to be concerned about blog preservation? The many mil-blogs out there whose posts chronicle the story of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are many more examples.

Professional development involves participating in several areas. Make sure the blogosphere is one of them. You never know who you are helping.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Interesting People, Interesting Blogs (Part 9)

The latest blog to be inducted into the coveted "Interesting People, Interesting Blogs" category of The DIGITAL Archive is Lynne M. Thomas's "Confessions of a Curator," which, in the author's words, is "a blog about Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University."

Hey, check it out!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Job Search: Interview Questions

In the course of searching for employment, there comes a time (or, if you're fortunate, several times) when one is called in for a job interview. In a job interview one or two staff members, or perhaps even a large committee, sits you, the applicant, down in a room and asks you some fairly standard questions about yourself, your skills, your strengths and weaknesses in addition to your past achievements and future plans.

With preparation and practice, one can become very confident in answering these questions honestly and positively.

However, one part of the questioning that often disrupts my flow is the one where the interviewers ask me if I have any questions.

Naturally, the applicant should ask about salary, benefits, vacation time, etc. But this, I believe, should come a little later. First, there must be some clarifications concerning the job itself.

After some brainstorming, I've developed a few questions that could be asked of the interviewer. Send me your comments if you have additions.

1) What is/are the main role(s) and responsibilities of the position?

2) Describe for me a typical day for the person in this position?

3) What are the primary and secondary goals and objectives of this position?

4) What is the budget for projects, such as hardware and software?

5) What is the budget for attending conferences, workshops, etc (i.e. learning opportunities)?
UPDATE: Via Michael Stephen's Tame the Web blog, I found an interesting article in Library Journal written by Michael Casey and Michael Stephens. It is about finding a library job that fits your values. Whether you are contemplating a library or a factory, the article brings up some good points. I am glad the authors mention the importance for library administrators to promote staff development, among other things. Please do read the article.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Twitter Goodness For Information Professionals

It's no secret, the world's favourite microblogging tool, Twitter, has been experiencing some technical problems as of late.

But have no fear, with today's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Twitter plans on strengthening its infrastructure and boosting system performance. (Fingers crossed, fingers crossed.)

In the meantime, enjoy some Twitter goodness:

1) Twitter for Librarians: The Ultimate Guide

2) Summize - Search Twitter in realtime, searching conversations. Yeah!!

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Friday Abstract: Suite Online Mischief

From the department of "Who needs Microsoft Office Anyway" I discovered Adobe's Acrobat.com online office suite (via ReadWriteWeb). For an online office suite, it looks very promising. If you wish to sample, you first must register. Don't worry, it's free. BTW, read Adobe's Acrobat.com blog for further news.


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.