Ed Bilodeau

This weblog had moved: http://www.coolweblog.com/bilodeau/

# Notice (Oct 19/05): So ends my stay here on Blogger. This morning Google implemented an anti-spam 'feature' that forces me to answer a challenge phrase when I want to post to my own blog. No notice of the change, nothing. Worse is that it doesn't even work! I type the phrase, submit, "An error occured", post deleted. Damn you, Google. Chances are I will revive my blog somewhere else, sometime soon. I'll post the new coordinates here as soon as they become available. (BTW, I'm unable to post anything to my RSS stream, so I'd appreciate it if readers could spread the word and ask people to take a look at this notice)

Update (Oct 19/05, ~noon): After a frustrating few hours (and not just trying out alternatives to Blogger), I've decided that this is a good time to take a break from all this. A day? A week? Who knows. But I need to step away from it before I pass a heavy magnet over the whole mess.

Update 2: According to this post, the reason I'm seeing the CAPTCHA (challenge phrase) is that Blogger has classified my blog as spam. Thanks. User for five years and now I'm spam. I searched the Blogger site, but there is no mention of how to get the spam flag turned off. There is also no way of contacting anyone at Blogger. Wow. Spam they say I am, so spam I must be. Maybe it is time to take a break.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Fully Situated: Episode 1 : I just published the first installment of my new audio project... ok, radio show. Follow the link above for show notes and the download link. Putting the show together was a lot of fun, but a *ton* of work. The ratio of recording and production time to listening time is probably 10:1. Still, I think it was worth it, enough to put together another one for next week!
Jerry Pournelle: :
"Jane Jacobs points out that a Dark Age isn't when you have forgotten how to do things. It is when you have forgotten that you ever could. French peasants in 650 AD were entirely unaware that Roman farmers could get yields of 10 bushels harvest for 1 bushel planted: they thought it a gift of God if they could get 3 bushels from each bushel planted, and generally didn't get more than 2. And American educators have apparently forgotten that there was a time when 96% of the people who finished 4th grade could read; we now have 100% attendance at schools and a literacy rate somewhat lower than Iraq's. But all will be well and No Child Will Be Left Behind, so long as we can juggle the tests and get increasing test scores. The purpose of the education system is no longer to educate but to produce people with certain credentials. Hurrah for the educational reforms of the past three decades."
Lord of the Rings version of Monopoly : Sans all the actors and movie merchandising. (Via Caterina)

Monday, November 29, 2004

Garret's post-election observations : Garret's been discussion the election results with his friends, and came across what I think is an interesting phenomenon:
[Surprisingly], Theresa Heinz-Kerry was a factor. Her uncommon affluence separated Kerry from the working class; something I had never seen ‘marketed’ by the Republicans. Neither could many picture her as First Lady. Overall, though, the impression I’m getting is “no votes for the toffee-nosed git.” His demeanor bespoke rich-man, more than Mr Bush’s feigned everyman. Through this filter, Mr Bush was the populist. [italics his]
SCTIC-CREPUQ Meeting 2004 : Daniel Lemire was there. Stephen Downes was there. I wasn't there, even though I can see the building where the meeting took place from my office. I had the invites to go, but alas, no time. Not happy about that. :(

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Visual FoxPro 9.0: Still Here, Still Relevant :
So why should you care about a product that receives only the occasional nod from its maker? Because, Visual FoxPro is still here and it is still relevant. It serves a need that is underserved by any other single product in its category. Further, because of its ability to run on cheaper, older hardware, run legacy code, and still do everything a modern programming language is expected to do, it will remain the product of choice for renegade workgroups, small resource-constrained offices, independent software developers, and many governments and government-run agencies.

We actually have a fair number of in-house FoxPro applications at the Centre. I'm glad to see that there is still life left in the platform.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

e-mail down : BTW, due to an upgrade to a new Exchange server, I'm not getting any email. According to the notice we got on Friday, it was support to be a 20-30 min downtime sometime Friday night. Guess not. I can't remember any kind of server upgrade at McGill ever going smoothly. (Mind you, that's probably because when they did go smoothly, I never noticed!)

Update (Sunday morning): Email is functioning again.
Anti-communist comic : I found this great comic over on BoingBoing. Make sure you read through to the second part, which covers the history of Marx. Funny in a scary kind of way.
Working on paper on engineering education : Class finished on Thursday night, which means that I have twenty or so projects to correct over the next two weeks. Also on my plate, and more importantly, is a paper/lit-review on engineering education. I've been working on this all semester, and are really behind. I've done a lot of work, but there is still very, very much to do. Not sure how I'll get this done before Dec 17, but I'm going to try.

Nathalie and also got started on our Xmas shopping today with a good-sized order to LL Bean. Although we are both very busy, we are trying to spread the Xmas tasks (planning, shopping, etc) over as long a period of time as possible. That way we will hopefully avoid being overloaded, and may still enjoy the holidays! :)

Back to my paper.

Friday, November 26, 2004

BBC Radio 4: Losing the Past :
What can be done to stem the loss of our historical archives? A timely investigation into the loss of cultural, public and historical records, both analogue and digital, as a result of deterioration or advances in technology.
Wiki for Montreal social software conference : Seb set up a wiki page for brainstorming ideas re: a blogging social software conference here in Montreal. This is the first time I'm involved in a wiki at the ground level, so I'm interested in seeing how things develop.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

WikiSpam and Passwords : In the face of wikispam, Scott Leslie has had to reconfigure his wiki to only allow authenticated users to post changes to the wiki. I think that makes sense. I'll be doing the same with my next, upcoming wiki project (a wiki of e-commerce resources to support our e-commerce program).
Weblog conference in Montreal : Seb is pulling together statements of interest on holding a blogging conference in Montreal.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Blog Torrent :
Blog Torrent is software that makes it much easier to share and download files using the bittorrent protocol.

If this kind of functionality can get integrated into the major blogging tools, we are likely to see a lot more audio and video getting shared.
del.icio.us autodiscovery bookmarklet : Finally! Aaron has done the hard work, so all we have to do is add a bit of code to our sites, and we're in business.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Great new blog : Not sure if I've mentionned it yet: Music thing.
Apple developing FireWire audio interface for GarageBand : This thing has better have a quarter-inch jack on it. Mind you, knowing how apple is with connectors and such, they'll probably omit the quarter-inch, but be more then happy to sell you an adapter for 20$.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Busy : Lots to do today. Trying to get the week off to a good start. Trying.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Google Scholar vs. Real Scholarship :
"Students, take note: the stuff you pull up on Google Scholar will be a fairly random, incomplete selection of materials, including many abstracts. The best way to write your paper is still to identify the key readings you need to consult to put together a coherent argument, and plop your butt down in the library and actually read through them."
Update on auditing and student anonymity in open learning environments : Yesterday I brought up my concerns regarding course auditing and student anonymity in open learning environments at the Standing Committee - Web, of which I am a member.

It looks like the auditing issue will, I think, turn out to be less of an issue then I previously thought. The thinking on the committee was that the no-auditing policy was in place because at other institutions, 'auditing' has a special definitions. Students pay a reduced rate to audit classes, which allows them to attend classes, get access to some library resources and services, etc. The policy also give the university to prevent someone who has not registered for a class from attending the class lectures. Having others access an open learning environment isn't, I think, a concern.

The issue of student anonymity and privacy, however, is huge. There seemed to be agreement from the committee that the existing policy needed to be clarified as it relates to online learning environments, and communicated to faculty.

There have apparently already been a few complaints from students in classes that are being recorded and then made available to the public. These students wanted to ask questions in class and make statements, but they didn't want these available to the general public.

We are going to hold a joint meeting in January of our committee and the Senate Committee on Teaching and Learning. There we will discuss the issue in more detail and decide what needs to be done. I'll post developments here as they happen.

If you have any experience with these issues at your institution, I would encourage you to post them here as a comment or send them to me via e-mail (edward.bilodeau@mcgill.ca). Although our policy needs to take shape within the McGill context, it is always useful to hear how other people have addressed the same issues.

Friday, November 19, 2004

New course (tentative) for the summer : In other teaching news, I've gotten *tentative* approval to teach a new course: INSY 444 Managing Knowledge with Information Technology. Here's the brief course description:
Types of organizational knowledge and their value for organizations, analyzing knowledge processes, and assessing tools and technologies for managing knowledge.
Other then the fact that it is a IT-focused KM course, I don't know anything about it. It isn't a new course, so I won't have to develop it from scratch. Hopefully I'll be able to put my own spin on things!
Winter 2005 Course pack for CMIS 543 : I just finished putting together the "beta" of my winter course pack. I'll leave it over the weekend and finalize on Monday. I pruned a few articles and added in a number of new articles that add extra support and detail to the lectures. Feels good to have it (more or less) done.
Google Scholar : I've been using Google Scholar for some work I've been doing this afternoon, and have been quite impressed with the results. It will be interesting to see how this service evolves.
Retro theme for Firefox : Perennial 0.2.1 by ~digiboy

It is amazing how much a skin can change one's perpective (or rather, how it can remind one of a previously held perspective).

It might be one the reasons that I enjoy lo-fi circa-1992 site designs. They remind me of a time when everything was new, when the sense of potential was huge and unhindered by the realities of project details, organizational dynamics, and clients from hell.
It's who it's from that counts : I'm trying a small experiement today with managing my incoming email. I removed the 'subject' column from my display, so that I only see the name of who it is from. It is amazing how much easier this makes it to pick out the truely important email.

What I'm wondering now is if I am confident enough to make a read/delete decision based solely on the content of the From field?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

A student's right to anonymity and open learning environments : For those of you who didn't follow the comments on my recent post regarding open learning environments, later on in the thread I raised the issue of student anonymity. At least at McGill, students have a right to remain anonymous, as per the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook:
31 No personal information shall be disclosed by the University to a third party in a manner which permits the identification of the student or former student unless such disclosure is required by law, or unless the protection afforded by this section has been waived expressly or by implication by the student or former student who is entitled to it. Upon request by the student or former student, the Committee on Student Grievances may determine whether disclosure is authorized under this section.
This impacts courses that use public tools and open learning environments. This includes, but is not limited to, weblogs, wikis, discussion boards, aggregators. Courses where the student is required as part of the course to participate in such a way that their identity revealed are likely to be in violation of this policy.

Instructors can respect the policy by having the students sign a form giving explicit permission for their identity to be made public. Students would, of course, have the right to refuse, and the instructor would have to respect their choice. This could be a problem if the open learning environment is a central part of the learning process. Furthermore, if the student's evaluation is dependant upon such participation, the situation will be further complicated.

I've noticed a number of teachers using public tools (Blogger, Bloglines, etc) are part of their courses. I wonder if they have considered these issues, or if their students have raised any concerns related to this?
ephemera - There Is Nothing Wrong in This Whole Wide World photo set : Derek's photos of the books-by-color display.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Harold Gilchrist: The Audioblogging Revolution : Harold Gilchrist has been audioblogging since 2002..
Jerry Pournelle: Current View :
"The Neocons have discovered the New Model Army that does things with fewer and more elite troops, and marvels at their success; then is horrified when warriors act like warriors; when young men taught to kill the enemy shoot what turns out to be, not an armed enemy playing dead, but a dying wounded man. But that is the price of conquest, particularly when warriors are sent to do the job of constables."
Bookstore, organized by color : Nice.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

BBC News - Week at a Glance : Nice summary view.
Murdering the wounded : This morning on TV5's TeleMatin news, they showed the clip of the US soldier walking up to a wounded Iraqi, saying "Play dead!", then shooting the wounded man with his assault rifle, killing him. The soldier has been 'removed from the field' and the case is being looking into by the US military.

I have seen almost nothing on this while browsing the web. Although some may write it off as an isolated incident, I don't believe it is. Both incidents were captured on film (this latest on an NBC tape, no less), not hidden in the shadows. This soldier's actions, like those of the guards in the US military prisons who mistreated the Iraqi prisoners, occured within a social environment, within a culture, that made them seem like appropriate behavior, worthy of being committed to the official record. I am more likely to believe that this event is the tip of the iceberg.

Fortunately for the US, the likely victors in this struggle, only the loosers are held to account for their war crimes.

Update: BoingBoing has a pointer to the video

Friday, November 12, 2004

Auditing classes and open learning systems : I’m not sure how common this is, but McGill has a policy that forbids the auditing of courses. Traditionally, this means the only students registered in the courses are allowed to attend the classes.

Since the classroom lecture is where a lot of learning takes place (…), it makes sense that only those who have paid for the learning should permitted to learn from the class. Even if auditing the course didn’t give you any form of credit, it still wasn’t permitted. There may have been concerns with someone auditing the course, registering for it in the next semester, and using their existing knowledge to do better then they would have otherwise. In large classes there may not be space for people auditing the course. Also, if the person auditing the course doesn’t have the necessary academic and language prerequisites, they could be disruptive if they try to interact with the other students or the instructor.

Whatever the rational, the essence of the policy is that only those registered in the course can participate in the learning process offered by that course.

My question is this: Since McGill’s policy restricts course participation to only those students who have registered for the course, am I as an instructor permitted to use an open learning environment in my course? Could I, for example, use an open system of blogs as part of my course, blogs written by myself and my students, but open to the public? Could I use an open wiki, or an open community site (a la Slashdot) as part of my course?

Looking at MIT’s OpenCourseWare initiative, you can see they only provide the content of the course. No interaction with faculty or students, no assessment, no credit. However, MIT also permits the auditing of courses, so their OpenCourseWare fits into the existing policy nicely.

It isn’t clear to me whether at an institution like McGill, with it’s no-auditing policy, whether I am allowed to make my course materials open to the public, much less allow interactive elements in my course to be public.

I could, of course, point to any number of initiatives that have been undertaken by profs at McGill. Those departments, like computer science, that were early to the Web (i.e. pre-WebCT) have had public course home pages (ugrad, grad). Although some point to private WebCT spaces, most contain a fair amount of content (on par with MIT’s OpenCourseWare). Another example is the Cool project, that provide full lectures of chemistry courses online.

There is a clear precedent at McGill for making content available to the public, and I feel comfortable going forward with a project I have in mind to build a public collection of e-commerce and web development resources. But I think I am better off keeping the interactive elements of my class confined to the classroom and the private WebCT course site.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Connections 2005: The 10th Great Lakes Information Science Conference : May 14-15, 2005 at the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, McGill University, Montreal, QC.
Connections - the Great Lakes Information Science Conference celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2005. After a decade of evolution, the conference has become a premier forum in the field of library and information studies, organized by and for doctoral students. Its open, friendly atmosphere and commitment to social interactions makes it a perfect venue for doctoral students to present their research, exchange views, and network with peers.

The Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, is honored to host this milestone event from Saturday, May 14th to Sunday, May 15th, 2005. In celebration of this exciting milestone, all doctoral students enrolled in library and information studies or related fields are cordially invited to submit proposals.

Abstract Submission Deadline: January 31, 2005
Choosing a technology for student learning journals : I'm in the process of planning for the Winter semester, and have come to the point where I need to make a choice about how I want to handle student learning journals in my course.

Learning journals are something new that I'm trying. Students will be asked to keep a journal throughout the semester where they will record their reflections on the readings, lectures, discussion, etc. Currently, I ask students to hand in a hard-copy of their reflection every week or so. I want to move to a 'journal' approach because I would like student's to take responsibility for reflecting on their learning, and not just do it when I tell them to (although I'm sure a certain amount of ongoing motivation will be required).

I also want to move the learning journals online not only to ease the administrative aspects of maintenance and marking, but to make it easier for me to provide useful feedback to the students in an efficient and timely manner.

There are three options that I have been considering:
  1. e-mail: Student email me their entries (either to my main mail account or a WebCT account) and I reply with comments, etc).
  2. WebCT discussion forums: I set up a private discussion topics for each student in WebCT where they can post entries to their journal, and I can review and comment on them.
  3. weblogs: I ask each student to set up a weblog for their learning journal. Blogs could be reviewed using bloglines (set up an account for class blogs), comments left using comments.
My choice at this point is to go with option #2: private discussion topics in WebCT. This would be easiest to set up and manage, both for myself and for the student. Email would be a bit harder to manage, and there wouldn't be a central archive of the journal. Weblogs would require more effort for the students to set up, and we would be at the mercy of external servers (Blogger, Bloglines). All these blogs would also be public, which I think could be a problem.

In thinking about this, the issue came down to whether or learning journals needed to be public. Or rather, did the benefits of having the learning journals publicly available (even to other students in the class) outweigh the drawbacks?

In my opinion, there is no need for my student's learning journals to be public. I see the learning journal as a private place (with the exception of the instructor) where students can record their thier thoughts, the questions they have, the difficulties they are facing, etc. Having this writing space open to the other students, not to mention the general public, would make students hesitate, would work to limit or dampen the effectiveness of the journal.

It is worth noting that a portion of each class is devoted to group discussions, where students will discuss topics that they have already written about in their learning journals. In other words, I acknowledge the value of having students learn from each other, but I think that process is much more powerful when the interaction happens face-to-face. There is no need to relegate such interaction to a disconnected set of blog posts and comments.
IQ and Politics : While I'm not happy about the results of the recent US election, the sensemaking that has been going on, particularly from the Democrats, is only slightly less disturbing. Infographics and statistics based on oversimplifications, reeking of urban intellectual elitism. It may make you feel better, but it is hardly what I would call a useful perspective.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Web design portals : I'm trying to find a few sites that showcase good web site design. A few of the ones I used to visit (linkedup, perfect.co.uk, etc) appear to be gone. I'm hoping to find a few places to recommend to the my students, please they can go to see good, effective site design (not necessarily flashy). If anyone has any sites to recommend, please post them here as a comment.

A few I already have:

Thanks in advance!
Firefox 1.0 install joy joy : I attemoted to install Firefix 1.0 yesterday, but ended up messing things up. After much fiddling, the best I could do was have Firefox hang and consume 100% CPU whenever I tried to run it. The problem, I think, had to do with the fact that (a) I tried to install 1.0 it over my previous 0.9.2 install, and (b) I wasn't logged in with full admin priviledges when I installed the app. I did run the install program as admin, but I guess that wasn't enough.

This morning I got things working by uninstalling everything, deleting every mozilla/firefox profile that I could find, and giving my personal account admin priviledges. Then I ran the install, and everything worked ok. I need to manually rebuild my bookmarks, but that's probably a good thing.

First impressions: nice. Nothing too different, but the live bookmarks are cool, esp for integration with delicious.

Back to work.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

BloggerCon webcast : The webcast is available, live, and much better then last time around. Its being provided by Doug Kaye.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Where was the impact of the web in the election? : Before I forget: I wonder if people invested too much energy into the web, weblogs, etc to get people out to vote, not to mention vote for their own candidate. People googlebombing Bush or Kerry for whatever reason. It seems like these technologies were all supposed to make some sort of difference, to help people to make informed decisions. Maybe they were more of a distraction, an easy one for the more technologically minded? Their blog circles facilitated and supported a delusion that Bush's defeat was inevitable. People launched their web sites and blogged and blogged and blogged while all the real action was happening elsewhere.

Update: More discussion on the role of the web, etc in the election on the Nov 5 Gillmor Gang (about 18 minutes in).
Public Knowledge Project : I just got back from a talk given by John Willinsky, the lead on UBC's Public Knowledge Project. Excellent talk. Their Open Journal and Open Conference systems are something that I hope McGill sets up.

There are a few pilot projects relating to open access, etc going on at McGill, and while I sit on a few committees that impact those project, form my perspective, I have not seen evidence of any strategic thinking happening. Institutional repositories are being looked at, but outside of the context of work like what is being done at UBC. I hope that this talk may spur a few people within the library to begin looking at this in a more comprehensive way.
TomPaine.com: Kerry Won :
Most voters in Ohio thought they were voting for Kerry. CNN's exit poll showed Kerry beating Bush among Ohio women by 53 percent to 47 percent. Kerry also defeated Bush among Ohio's male voters 51 percent to 49 percent. Unless a third gender voted in Ohio, Kerry took the state.

So what's going on here? Answer: the exit polls are accurate. Pollsters ask, 'Who did you vote for?' Unfortunately, they don't ask the crucial, question, 'Was your vote counted?' The voters don't know.

Here's why. Although the exit polls show that most voters in Ohio punched cards for Kerry-Edwards, thousands of these votes were simply not recorded. This was predictable and it was predicted.
CS-TR-02-9: Notes on Postmodern Programming : Interesting. There's a whole archive of CompSci papers available.
MSDN Web Development Documentation : MSDN has cleaned up their web dev documentation. I've only taken a quick look through it, but it looks good. Lots of useful information. If you're a professional web developer (as opposed to an amateur or hobbyist who can afford to ignore MS), you need to know this stuff.
US 2004 election infographic: Votes by county : Powerful image. A sea of red, with pockets of blue resistance. Makes Bush's support seem even stronger. Like I said before, Bush is golden and good-to-go.

And I love his quote from yesterday's press conference:
And it's one of the wonderful -- it's like earning capital. You asked, do I feel free. Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That's what happened in the -- after the 2000 election, I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election -- and I'm going to spend it for what I told the people I'd spend it on, which is -- you've heard the agenda: Social Security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror.

(Update 1: Here's a blended version of the county map. Still more reddish, but not as powerful an image as the first one. These maps are a great example of how important information design can be.)

(Update 2: Lilia articulates the thoughts that were forming in my head as I viewed the maps.)
CNN: Fighter jet strafes New Jersey school :
The target was an object on the ground well within the confines of the Warren Grove firing range, a 2,400-acre scrub pine expanse used by the military to train pilots in bombing and strafing techniques.

But when the heavy gun in the left wing of an Air National Guard F-16 fighter jet fired Wednesday night, it sent 25 rounds of 20mm ammunition smashing through the roof and zinging off the asphalt parking lot of the Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School 3 1/2 miles from the range.

Thankfully no one was injured.
Anil Dash: Bottled Water Redux : A few links pointing to items explaining why bottled water isn't a good idea.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Larry Osterman on Channel 9 : Check out the video interviews with Larry Osterman, 20-year MS veteran. Great stories!
Anne Galloway: It's all in the presentation : Anne points to a few good election-related links, like this map of the US showing the vote as gradiations instead of start reds and blues.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

James Farmer takes heat for promoting new technologies in higher ed :
Last Tuesday I received a memorandum from a manager cc’d by am exec. director instructing me to cease supporting and promoting weblogging, wikis or any other technology not officially supported by the University. The basic reason given being that I have, anecdotally, not used the CMS (this isn’t true, I always use it) and that ‘commentary’ on the issue of CMSs (quoted I think from this blog or another I set up for a course) is unacceptable. A set-up for disciplinary action should I not follow instructions.

Not all universities are open to innovation it seems. I doubt I would face such opposition should I try something similar here, but it is worth keeping in mind.
Garret Vreeland: How this Democrat is feeling at the moment. :
I’ve stated previously that America does not yet associate enough pain with the various Republican agendas I abhor. Four more years may do that. But the fact remains, we lost this election, this election that should have been a shoe-in.
Derek Powazek: Pretty Kitty :
Here is a photo of a pretty kitty. This kitty has nothing to do with politics or how fucking idiotic half the people in my country are.
Matthew Good: Americans Re-Elect George W. Bush :
George Bush, the most unpopular American President in history outside of the United States, has been re-elected. His re-election says something about the intelligence of the American people, about American arrogance, about American insularity, and America’s obvious desire to openly claim it’s place in the pantheon of imperial powers.

I know this is my second link to Good's site today, but I think he has done a great job of articulating the current situation we now all find ourself in.
Matthew Good puts is so well :
I’ve been monitoring numerous sources all night and have been struggling with what to say in an entry if George Bush wins. To be honest, at the moment I'm at a complete loss for words. How any rational person can support this administration is beyond me.

My previous comments about not wanting to believe that the US folks were duped comes from a desire to believe that people are essentially mentally fit, able to remember and evaluate facts against their values and make more or less rational decisions.

But deep down, I can't help but thinking: "These americans are fucking nuts."
Karl Dubost: Boycott des États-Unis : Karl is no longer travelling to the US, primarily because of their policy that non-citizens be fingerpinted and photographed before entering the country. Although that policy doesn't apply to me as a Canadian (yet), I have been considering a similar boycott as well for some time. I would do so both in solidarity with Karl (and others in his situation), but also for my own discomfort with the US administration.

Unlike Karl, I'm not a big traveller, though. I don't have a bunch of trips set up that I'm going to miss out on, so my sacrifice is admittedly less. However, as I advance in my academic career and have the opportunity to attend academic conferences and travel, I will, for the next four years at least, decline.
Doc Searls: Leftover blues :
There was also, let's face it, a problem with the candidate. John Kerry was the best the Dems could come up with this time around, and he just wasn't good enough.

This doesn't explain the result. Bush's record is so bad that you shouldn't need an outstanding candidate to beat him.

Since I'm not willing to believe that the people of the US were duped, I can only conclude that they are aware of Bush's record, of what he stands for, and where he is likely to take the country, and to some extent, the world. They agree with what he is has done and what he is likely to do. I can also conclude that their values are very, very different from mine.

(BTW, there is almost no post-vote blogging going on in my blogroll. What's up with that?)
Looking out my window, not much has changed : Lying in bed this morning, I reached over and turned on the radio to catch the 6am news. A sinking feeling as I heard that the election was, again, a split. The momentum clearly in Bush's favour. The reality that the majority of US citizens support Bush, support the Bush administration and their actions over the past four years, and want more of the same.

While those of us the rest of the world will continue to hold the US accountable for their actions, internally, within the USA, those actions have no political value. They can't be used against Bush. He doesn't have to worry about them or take them into consideration. Everything that he believes has been validated in the most powerful, meaningful way. Anything that he's done before November 2, 2004 has the blessing of the people. From a political point-of-view, George W. Bush is golden and good-to-go.

Regardless of who actually gets into the White House, last night's election was, like September 11, a shift in the way I view the world. I look at the US and its citizen's in a different light this morning.

I will do my best not to prejudice someone just because they are a US citizen, but I will be cautious. I have to. The world is a dangerous place. This morning, a bit more so.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Mcgill.ca goes *poof* : It figures that as soon as I get settled in, mcgill.ca (and everything on it, like the library OPAC, email, the main web site, etc, etc) goes wonky on me. It was acting up this morning as well. Unfortunately, there isn't any reliable system status available at McGill. Sure, there's a phone line you can call, but it always says that everything is OK, even if tracert tells you that things are clearly not OK.

(As I type this, it appears to be flickering back, but not enough to be considered reliable. I guess I'll go back to getting caught up on my blog reading.)
Update : Busy day today. When I got to the office this morning, I realized that I forgot my laptop adapter at home. My laptop originally came with a second adapter, but I left that in class one night. Gone. So I take the one off my docking station. A pain, to be sure, but a small price to pay for my own carelessness.

My laptop gave me enough juice to work through the morning. It died just as I was leaving for lunch. Just as well, since I have a pile of mid-term exams to finish correcting. That's how I spent my afternoon.

Tonight I'm back on the grid and getting caught up on my e-mail and some other work. Refreshing CNN every once in a while to see how the US election is shaping up. Right now about 5% of the vote is in, with Bush ahead 87/77. Still very early, but it amazes me that there race is as close as it is. The fact that Bush is even considered a contender at all is amazing. The fact that he may win is... well, at this point I still don't want to think about what that will mean.

Monday, November 01, 2004

OOPSLA 2004 Wiki : An example of how a wiki can be used to support a conference. Having just finished developing a static conference site by hand, I wish I had the resources to set up a wiki to go along with it. One day I will have to get around to convincing the WCG to set up a wiki for me.

I wonder, though, if I could use one wiki for all my projects, or if I would need to create separate wikis for each CoP, class, subject, etc?
If you hold a meeting, and no one shows up, did the meeting ever happen? : I can't remember if or how much I've written on this subject here, but over the past year or so I've been investing a certain amount of energy in trying to get some sort of social/intellectual interaction happening between the PhD students at GSLIS. On average, attendance at our gatherings is ok, about half of the group (8-9 of 18). At this afternoon's get-together, four people besides myself showed up, and two of those left (and I don't blame them) after seeing that this wasn't going to be much of a meeting. Two people had emailed me with regrets before hand, but a lot of folks just didn't show.

I suppose I should expect setbacks, but I couldn't (can't) help feeling disappointed about the turnout. While I don't spend that much time on this kind of thing, it is one more thing to think about, one more thing to do. My ROI on these meetings are low: I'm lucky if I break even, so to speak. But meetings like today leave me deeply in the red.

One of the other folks who did show up suggested that we take the meeting back to its original purpose: for PhD students to do breif presentations on thinkgs they are working on, and get feedback. To kickstart this process, at our next meeting (in a few worrks) we three will be giving 'lightening round' presentations on our work: 10 minute presentation with 5 minutes for questions. That and some coffee should hopefully make the meeting worthwhile.

At the end of the meeting, we'll choose three new people to present at the next meeting. If there is not enough interest, or if not enough people attend for us to find three people to present, I'll probably step away from the meetings and focus on other things.

(It may be, of course, that the other students have already reached the same decision I have and decided not to bother attending. If that's the case, I hope I find out soon so that I (and others) can stop wasting my (our) time.)