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Access 2017 Saskatoon

October 2, 2017

Lovely view from the conference room

After a long hiatus while on research leave, I’m back out on the road getting in touch with the profession and taking notes. Access is both a favourite and an excellent reentry path given its warm and friendly environment. Within about an hour of being at Access, I had already worked up two proposals to take back to my organization to take up some new work, so my confidence in its ability to refresh and invigorate my thinking was rewarded.

One small note about these jottings: some of these papers had co-authors or co-creators who were not at Access. When I take notes at conferences, I drop any collaborators not actually speaking, not to slight them, but because part of the reason I keep these notes is to help me connect names to faces and names to specific projects. Having a visual memory is a great way for me not to lose track of all the threads in my head.

The Trouble with Access
Kim Christen – Washington State U

The part of this talk that made a strong impression on me was when she walked through items in the Plateau Peoples’ Web Portal and showed the differences between standard museum or archival description and rich description provided via community curation Read more…


Digital Humanities 2016 Kraków

July 18, 2016
Wawel Cathedral

Wawel Cathedral

One interesting quirk of the DH conference is that so many talks are presented with a long list of collaborators in the program. It’s great to see collaborative work becoming more the norm. This isn’t new, but I seem to note an increase in this year over year. I’ve chosen just to list the person(s) who presented to keep my notes shorter and easier to read.

Wednesday, July 13
Thursday, July 14
Friday, July 15

Tuesday, July 12

Workshop – CWRC & Voyant Tools: Text Repository Meets Text Analysis
Susan Brown, U of Guelph; Stéfan Sinclair, McGill U; Geoffrey Rockwell, U of Alberta

Susan sketched a history of CWRC, which has its origins in the Orlando project (which dates from pre-XML days). I had no idea that CWRC used Islandora, but was happy to hear it. They’ve done custom module development for Islandora. Noted that a point of the workshop was to demonstrate how tools can be used in tandem, and are not always silos that don’t interoperate.

Unfortunately, the main server that powers CWRC went pear-shaped shortly before the conference, so it proved to be difficult to navigate and edit. Still, got a good overview of CWRC’s editing tool and its capabilities. Very keen to try it further when it’s released this fall in a hopefully stable version.

For Voyant, we worked from this tutorial. Generally speaking, I was too busy tinkering and learning to take notes. Interesting to note was the aside from the CWRC server’s crankiness, Voyant also bogged down at times when we were all hammering on it (~35 people in the room). Given Voyant’s success and wide use, hopefully there will be some scaling so that it performs well under heavy loads. Read more…

Full circle

July 11, 2016

I generally call this my ‘personal’ professional blog, but this post is purely personal. Our professional demeanor can be a bit of a mask of inscrutability. Sometimes it’s good to let it slip.

summit of giewont in poland

Giewont summit

Back in fall 1992, I was staying with a good friend in Berlin. The summer previous I had worked as a cook at Sperry Chalet in the backcountry of Glacier National Park. Although back then I worked mainly to make money to travel, this particular trip only happened because I was going through a difficult and painful breakup–ah, young love–with my Czech girlfriend. We’d had it out in Prague within days of my arrival. Alas, to make the flight worthwhile, I had booked the return flight six weeks later. Heartsick and aimless, I went to Berlin since it’s a bit of a third or fourth home. Read more…

Open Repositories 2016

June 23, 2016
dublin castle doorway

Dublin Castle doorway

After hearing great things about it for years and trying to fit it into the work calendar, I made it to Open Repositories, held this year in Dublin, Ireland. Part of the reason it was important this year is that I’m trying to get the word out about the Ontario Library Research Cloud, both to share our model as well as to seek input and feedback on some of our choices as well as on the challenges we still face (slides). The sheer number of updates, tools, projects, acronyms, and initiatives represented at OR is dizzying, but below I’ve recorded some notes on what I saw and also noted some ideas and sites I plan to explore further.

Tuesday, June 14

Opening keynote: Knowledge Inequalities: A Marginal View of the Digital Landscape
Laura Czerniewicz, U of Cape Town [slides]

Showed maps that highlight how much the influence of science is located in the global north. Really stark depictions. She asked what causes this, but noted that perhaps “shapes” is a better word. For one: funding. Funding as a percentage of GDP is much higher in the north, e.g.- 2.76% in the U.S. vs. .73% in South Africa. China is 1.96%, and is increasing. Read more…

IT leadership in libraries

April 15, 2016

“Clash of Cultures” – flickr, Walter A. Aue

At last week’s CNI Spring Membership in San Antonio, I had the pleasure of presenting an issues talk around the topic of IT leadership in libraries. To frame it somewhat provocatively, we titled it “From Invasive to Integrated: Information Technology and Library Leadership, Structure, and Culture” (slides). As Lisa outlines in her reflections on the session, this talk grew out of a Twitter conversation that I started by musing about what I see as chronic flaws in the management of IT in libraries. My own career has been one most often spent literally straddling the divide between the broader library culture and the library IT subculture (e.g.- Reference and Web Services Librarian), which has afforded me a unique perspective on how the borderlands between the two are shaped and navigated. Read more…

CNI Spring 2016 Notes

April 5, 2016
san antonio riverwalk

flickr – Pedro Szekely

CNI Spring 2016 in San Antonio was, as always, a worthwhile trip. Somewhat different this time was that I gave an “issues” talk with Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe on our ongoing struggles to integrate IT functions and staff successfully into the library mainstream (title: From Invasive to Integrated: Information Technology and Library Leadership, Structure, and Culture – slides). We had a great turnout and people came ready to contribute, which was both encouraging and much appreciated. We both plan to write reflective blog posts on what transpired in that session.


Defining the Scholarly Record for Computational Research
Victoria Stodden, U of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Noted several ways that technology has impacted research, one that caught my eye was the notion that there are “deep intellectual contributions” embedded only in software. It’s not sufficient simply to capture such work in a methods discussion in an article, so how do we surface these intellectual contributions? Another impact is how nearly all of research has been digitized and has become accessible due to the Internet. These objects also have intellectual property rights attached to them that enable (or not) reproducibility and other extended work. Read more…

PASIG Prague 2016

March 11, 2016

National Technical Library, Prague

This is apparently the first time that PASIG has been held in Europe; it’s also the first time I’ve attended. My goal was to come speak about the Ontario Library Research Cloud, both to get the word out about the model we followed as well as to expose that model to a bit of peer critique and commentary. In that regard, it’s been a successful journey and I hope that it just started a conversation that will continue on.

It was a very well organized and catered event. The reception even included a chartered vintage tram that took us to Obecní dům, a somewhat touristy yet glorious Jugendstil monument in Prague. Given the modest registration fee, the quality has been remarkable. Many thanks to those who planned and carried out this event.

Day 1

Digital Preservation Bootcamp

OAIS Model, Theory & Practice
Neil Jefferies, Oxford U

Gave an overview of OAIS. Noted, after the overview, that one of the problems is what he defines as a SIP (submission information package) problem, i.e.- we often don’t have good (or any) metadata for certain collections. That’s not a good reason not to ingest them into an archival system. Also, DIP (dissemination information package) problems exist. Read more…