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.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

So close : This morning I stopped by Camelot in PVM to get a 1GB iPod Shuffle. I was punching in the purchase, and without looking up from the keypad, asked, "If it doesn't work, I can bring it back, right?"

The cashier looked at me nervously, "I've never heard of one not working." Oh oh.

"Oh, I'm sure it will work, but if it doesn't, can I bring it back?"

"Uhhh, yes..." Too much uncertainty in her voice. This was going to be a problem.

She flipped the box around, pointing to the system requirements, "It says here what you need."

"I know, but I've checked online, and sometimes, with older Windows PCs, there can be problems."

"Well, I know we aren't allowed to take back the mini. You need to deal with Apple directly. So it is probably the same thing with this one."

"So, I can't bring it back."

"No... No, you probably can't"

"Oh. Ok, forget it then."

The search continues.
Marc Hedlund on Yahoo 360 :
"Opinions in the room were mixed; I came into it skeptical and left more skeptical -- not that it would do well, which it will, doomed, perhaps, to moderate success; but that I could think of a reason to recommend it or a need it would fill better than other options. [...] But you don't need me to tell you their opinions -- go read their blogs. Which is why we aren't the market; we already have identities online. Yahoo 360 is for those who don't."

A bit later, Hedlund pulls the following quote from The Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat:
Nobody knows how to produce an automaton that even approaches the complexity of a real human being, let alone a society. Our approach, then, is not even to attempt this, but instead to use the computational medium to augment the communications channels between real people.

This, IMHO, is what is wrong and missing from so many e-learning and KM technologies.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Rise of Nations Military Units: Nuclear Weapons :
"Nukes let you offer a nasty undertow to invading armies when you are forced into tactical retreat. If you must lose a city, pull back and let the army from across the border have the town. Then launch a Nuclear Missile at it, and send all your Citizens around the corner somewhere while it's in flight so you don't have to rebuild them. Whatever was left of the invading army after taking the city won't be left anymore after the nuke blast. You'll get the town back up and running before your foe can reinforce."

I'm all for lack of realism in games, but this is a bit silly. I also cringed at the sight of the flamethower units. I must be getting old. Or maybe its been so long since I've played that I've started to get resensitized? Naaa, prob just getting old.
Dell Latitude X1 : I know Dell just picks these designs off the overseas shelf and silkscreens their logo on them. Nevertheless, some of these machines look alright.
Autolink this! :
Putting first things first : So here's that 'big decision' I made over the weekend: At the end of the Winter 2005 semester (i.e. now) I'll be dropping out of the PhD program to return and complete my MLIS degree.

After looking back at the past year, it became clear to me that, given the demands of my work, I would not be able to complete my PhD without putting my work, my health, and more in jeopardy. I decided to bow out now before one or more of the above factors deteriorated to the point where the decision would be made for me by someone else.

The paperwork has been filed, and aside from being gouged by administrative fees, I'm doing ok. I was able to transfer my PhD coursework to the MLIS, so that I have four courses left to take. I expect to be graduating next spring.
UVermont researcher caught falsifying data : Seb does a great job of summarizing the situation. What is troubling is that the case probably only came to light because there was someone in the process who had little to loose and new enough to the field to still do the right thing:
The whistle-blower was an undergraduate at University of Vermont who had been hired as a research assistant. ''I was in a unique position to act," [Walter] DeNino said. ''I did not rely on Dr. Poehlman for funding, a post doc [research position], or a salary."

I know more of this kind of stuff happens, maybe more then anyone would like to admit. I hope I'm wrong.
John Carmack switches from .plan to blog :
".plan files were appropriate ten years ago, and sort of retro-cute several years ago, but I'll be sensible and use the web."
Tim Bray: Unswitch? : Contemplating the unthinkable:
My big gripe with Apple, of course, is their cult of hermetic secrecy. We at Sun and our esteemed competitors up in Redmond are engaged in a grand experiment: what happens when you dramatically increase a company's transparency? Initial results are pretty good for both of us. Apple's approach is of course, exactly the opposite. They control the message, nothing that's not part of the message can be said, nobody is allowed to say anything except for Steve, and they'll sue your ass if you step out of bounds.
Report on Global Ecosystems Calls for Radical Changes :
"The report cites widespread and growing problems such as the collapse of fisheries in some parts of the world because of over-exploitation, the creation of 'dead zones' around the mouths of some rivers because of nitrogen runoff from farms, and environmental degradation in some dry-land ecosystems."

How are we going to explain this one to the kids?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

/norss clarification : On the odd chance someone noticed my /norss tag, I use it to tag those sites that I don't read through my aggregator for one reason or another. They may have RSS feeds. I just don't use them.

(It would be nice to be able to annotate tags in delicious. Maybe I'll just tag this post!)
The Long Emergency and long supply chains : James Howard Kunstler paints a bleak picture of the looming energy crisis, one that, according to the author, we should begin to see the effects of in the next few years. Worth reading all the way through. Here's something that caught my attention since it connects to something else I've been thinking about.
"The circumstances of the Long Emergency will require us to downscale and re-scale virtually everything we do and how we do it, from the kind of communities we physically inhabit to the way we grow our food to the way we work and trade the products of our work. Our lives will become profoundly and intensely local. Daily life will be far less about mobility and much more about staying where you are. Anything organized on the large scale, whether it is government or a corporate business enterprise such as Wal-Mart, will wither as the cheap energy props that support bigness fall away. The turbulence of the Long Emergency will produce a lot of economic losers, and many of these will be members of an angry and aggrieved former middle class."

Back in November, I bought myself a pair of deerskin gloves. I bought them through L.L.Bean because I wasn't able to find gloves of similar quality for a comparible price here in Montreal. The deerskin is from the US. The gloves were assembled, however, in China. That they were cheaper then any locally produced good points to both the incredibly low wages that the workers in China must be paid, as well as the incredible efficiency in the supply chain that brought those gloves to my door.

The wages are what they are. But as Kunstler points out, as the fuel costs of the supply chain begin to shoot up, these kinds of products will need to be sourced locally. Or rather, there will be no point in sourcing the goods offshore. The price of the products will go up. Hopefully, though, that salary will be paid locally rather then across the planet.

The Long Emergency point to a major change coming our way. There will be disruptions and a certain degree of crisis. I hope that we will collectively see the change as a challenge, as an opportunity to do things differently, to do things better, in a way that is more humane and respectful of our environment(s).

The article is an excerpt from Kunstler's upcoming book of the same name, which I indend on reading (as soon as our library gets a copy!).

Monday, March 28, 2005

Packing day : We spent a good part of the day today packing in preparation for next month's move. This morning, as I looked around the apartment, I thought that we were more or less done, that we had packed pretty much all that we could (taking into consideration that we still have to live here for twenty or so days).

My initial estimates ended up being way off. It is amazing how long office drawers and filing cabinets take! What made it long was that we've been filtering and throwing out a lot of stuff before we move, as opposed to after. No dumping drawers into a box. Sift, filter, chuck, chuck, chuck. It is the only way to move.

Now, though, I think we are down to the last bits. We're moving (hopefully) on a Monday, which means we'll have a weekend to do the final packing and staging (the key to economical moving).

Still, there is much left to do. The address changes, signing up for telephone and cable service, etc, etc. And of course, the painting. But that's not for another week or two.

Things are moving along.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

del.icio.us tag stemmer : A great utility for filtering your personal delicious tagspace to find similar tags. For example, 'weblogs' and 'weblog'.

I spent a few minutes cleaning things up (a bit slow, given that delicious is currently in crash mode) and could see how useful this tag stemmer is. For example, I noticed that the biggest problem is using singular and plural version of the same word. I've decided to standardize on the plural version, since the tag points to a collection of items (i.e. weblogs).

While this will help my personal tagspace, it doesn't help across the larger shared tagspaces. Building the stemmer into the retrieval interface would go a long way to helping.

I'm sure that as the tools mature, we'll see who layer of tag mapping and combining functionality added. It will be interesting to see if the tools do this in a way that supports the emergent nature of tag meanings, or if it will be a case of imposing formalized mappings onto a chaotic tagspace.
Easter sighting : In one of those moments where I wish I would have had my camera with me, during our walk this morning, Nathalie and I came across a rabbit. I'm not sure if it was the Easter Bunny or not: we didn't ask him for his papers.
Yesterday I made a big decision : I'll talk about the details once the people involved have all been informed, the path charted, the paperwork put through. Should take about a week.

It has been a decision months in the making. Until yesterday, though, I hadn't really seen it that way. It was more of a malaise, a tension, pervading everything in my life. I knew what it was, but it hadn't occured to me that there was anything that I could do about it. It was just something that I had to 'deal with'.

I'm quick to tell others that they always have a choice. They can always choose an alternate path. Not surprising, I never considered that advice for myself. Not really.

Doubt, a rising fear, a dread, an awareness, an idea, thinking it over, uncertainty, a realization, making peace with myself, talking it over, a decision, clarity, determination.

Oh, and for those of you who know me, no, I am not quitting my job!

(Au contraire...)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

DDJ: A Fundamental Turn Toward Concurrency in Software :
The major processor manufacturers and architectures, from Intel and AMD to Sparc and PowerPC, have run out of room with most of their traditional approaches to boosting CPU performance. Instead of driving clock speeds and straight-line instruction throughput ever higher, they are instead turning en masse to hyperthreading and multicore architectures.

A bit technical, but Sutter does a good job of explaining why some of the assumptions we hold about software are likely to be less true in the years to come. For someone like me, this is an interesting article. For a software developer, its a must-read.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Farscape mini-marathon : On Space. Just started. Bye!
Michael Geist: Government of Canada Unveils Plans for Copyright Reform : At a glance, it appears to be a better approach then our friends to the south have taken.
Jeffrey Veen: State-of-the-art interactivity? :
"The judging was hard for me. As I clicked through the hundreds of submissions, I started to get an uneasy feeling. Why was all of this so bad? I mean, it was really bad."

This is recent design work, btw. A good summary of what not to do (or of how to avoid hiring a bad designer).

It also resonates with an idea I've been mulling over recently, that technology skills play a minor (albeit essential) role in the building of any technological artifact. You need a good, skilled implementation to even be in the game, but what differentiates success from failure are the ideas and thinking that goes into the process.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Les profs s'opposent a la nomination de Vinet : The prof union had recommended someone else, and were ignored by the university administration. Not the best way to start your mandate.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Paul Graham: How to Start a Startup :
"You need three things to create a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible. Most startups that fail do it because they fail at one of these. A startup that does all three will probably succeed."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

EastSouthWestNorth: The Great Chinese BBS Crackdown :
"This particular wave of crackdown was apparently generated by an edict from high above and was applied to all the bulletin board systems at the higher institutions of education."

I saw a number of links to this turning up in delicious, and decided to look into it. The author at the link above appears to have pulled together a fair amount of information on what is going on (i.e. the Chinese government seeking to restrict the kinds of information published on university BSS systems.
Montreal conference: Usability Professionals' Association : UPA 14th Annual Conference "Bridging Cultures"
June 27 - July 1, 2005
Montreal, Quebec
Fairmount Queen Elizabeth Hotel

(Note: I won't be able to attend.)

Monday, March 21, 2005

Blogger is sucking rotten eggs : I've been having intermittent problems with Blogger over the past week or so, all performance related. The site just hangs when I try to post, usually taking many minutes to come back. The post usually goes through, but it doesn't inspire much confidence. And I thought Google had a kabillion servers or something?

Update: Checking out status.blogger.com, it appears that they are having a problem with performance.
Ed Frauenheim: Poor knowledge workers? :
"'Unlike blue-collar workers who may declare themselves 'unemployed,' the knowledge workers I know shun that appellation,' he writes. 'They're never 'unemployed.' They're 'contractors' seeking gigs, or 'business owners' seeking clients. If a job comes their way, great, but in the meantime, they're 'working.' In a real sense, they are working, because they're trying to provide a service in exchange for money; but they're 'working poor' trying to survive, just like displaced factory workers.' "

Although the job market isn't a component of the learning environments I am interested in (i.e. higher ed), it is the larger context within which the learning takes place. It provides, in many cases, an important motivator for students, and it interacts with the learning environment as incoming information, explict or through the actions/beliefs/behaviors of teachers, researchers, and practitioners as they participate in the learning process.

Unless you plan on isolating your learning environment entirely from the real world, you'll need to be aware and consider the job market the students are expecting to join.
Universities and knowledge production : The most recent issue of Higher Education (vol 49, iss 1-2) looks at the role universities play in the production of knowledge within a societal and economic content. Looks interesting (sub required).
Telegraph : Pupils make more progress in 3Rs 'without aid of computers' :
"[The] study, published by the Royal Economic Society, said: 'Despite numerous claims by politicians and software vendors to the contrary, the evidence so far suggests that computer use in schools does not seem to contribute substantially to students' learning of basic skills such as maths or reading.'

Indeed, the more pupils used computers, the worse they performed, said Thomas Fuchs and Ludger Wossmann of Munich University."

Regarding previous research that computers at home improve school performance:
The study found this conclusion "highly misleading" because computer availability at home is linked to other family-background characteristics, in the same way computer availability at school is strongly linked to availability of other resources.

And also:
Pupils tended to do worse in schools generously equipped with computers, apparently because computerised instruction replaced more effective forms of teaching.

I need to get my hands on this report!
Five-year anniversary of Montreal weblog meeting : Today marks the fifth anniversary of the first Montreal weblogger's get together. I think it was a few months later that we decided to make it a 'first wednesday' thing. I was a fairly regular attendee at the beginning, although I haven't gone to a get-together for two years or more. The last one I think was the last one David went to before he moved to TO. I'm not sure for sure, but it was around there.

It is interesting (and rewarding) to see that the community has grown, although that has mostly been through the efforts of others. Looking at the photos of the party and the regular get-togethers, I realize how outside and disconnected I am from that group, that community. Entirely of my own doing, and not something that I regret. But there it is.

But to that cold evening five years ago, meeting five quasi-stangers, not knowing how well the online would translate into face to face, not knowing how I would even recognize them ("Oh, that guy in the k10k shirt, that must be passerby"), feeling slightly star-struck (ok, maybe a bit more then slightly) at meeting Heather, hearing tales from SXSW 2001, talking, connecting, having a good time. To that meeting of bloggers, I am thankful.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

IT Conversations: Google's AutoLink :
Denise Howell talks with Cory Doctorow, Robert Scoble, and Martin Schwimmer about what AutoLink and tools like it mean for the future of the Web

I'm still working through the 20MB download, so I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm confident it will be worthwhile.
Peterme: Quote on folksnomies :
"Folksonomies aren't interesting from an 'emerging technology' perspective -- they're interesting from a social and cultural perspective."
Apologies : I won't be going to the party this evening. I'm too busy this weekend, and don't have the time to spare. My apologies to the few who will notice. We'll get together soon, I promise!
c|net: Agence France Presse sues Google over news site :
"Without AFP's authorization, defendant is continuously and willfully reproducing and publicly displaying AFP's photographs, headlines and story leads on its Google News Web pages," AFP charged in its lawsuit.

AFP said it has informed Google that it is not authorized to use AFP's copyrighted material as it does and has asked Google to cease and desist from infringing its copyright work.

AFP alleged that Google has ignored such requests and as of the filing date of the lawsuit "continues in an unabated manner to violate AFP's copyrights."

I think Google is probably the highest profile instance of someone repurposing the intellectual property of others to make money, so it will be interesting and important to see how these issues are resolved. The Autolink feature in their Google Toolbar was another instance of the same thing.

I think there is a difference between using the contents of intellectual property to help people locate it (Google's original and still primary raison d'etre) and repurposing that intellectual property to provide other kinds of (revenue-generating) services. For Google the shift has been gradual, and I think they have missed the subtleties involved, the unstated, implicit trust between content providers, search engines, and users.

Although Google appears to have paid some attention to the Autolink fuss, in the long run, I'm afraid that the only thing that will get their attention are lawsuits like this one.

Keep in mind that unless shareholders will be satsfied with targeted ad revenues on Google Search, Google has to figure out how to navigate this mess in a way that is fair for everyone, or at least, in a way that is legal. The sense I get is that they are still very driven by the technical (ex. the Mac OS X version of the Google Search interface that was put up by a software engineer at Google and then pulled from the web, prob once the lawyers saw it).

There attitude is still very much, "lets see what we can get away with". They have a lot of political capital accumulated, and the seem intent on spending it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Gunner Palace Solo :
Gunner Palace Solo
Originally uploaded by OsakaSteve.

I was putting together some slides for my talk tomorrow, and I came across this photo, which struck me.
Female executives promote high-tech to students :
The executives aim to get the message out that although the industry currently lacks stability, there are jobs, both technical and otherwise.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Etienne Wenger to speak at McGill : I've known about this for a while, but was waiting for the public announcement before saying anything. Since his theory of communities of practice is the inspiration and foundation of my PhD research, the chance to meet and talk with him is a unique opportunity, and one that I am looking forward to.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Folksonomies talk on Thursday : One more thing: a reminder that I've giving a talk this Thursday at GSLIS on folksonomies. Its an overview for the LIS crowd, but open to everyone. If you are around, please drop in and say Hi!
Quote :
Reading is a private, uncontrollable act.

M.D. Shipman, Education and Modernization, p.42
Update : Work today was busy. The final exams, originally due Friday, were now due today. I put the finishing touches on mine this evening, will reread in the morning after a good night's sleep, and then hand it in. It was a bit stressful having to crunch the work into one day (I prefer to iterate over several), but at the same time, I'm glad its done.

Looking at my calendar for the rest of the week... ugh, it looks full. Meetings and presentations. No major deliverables, but a number of small things, some of which have been articulated and dutifully noted, other still in the "oh yeah, I've got to remember to do that..." space. The kind of week where I'm not sure I have time to get organized. Just to pick a pile and start shoveling.

(Note: if the posts are slow here, check my delicious and flickr accounts (see sidebar)... there's usually something there..)

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Seven years : Today is my seventh anniversary of weblogging. At the beginning, I didn't know enough to call it a blog, but looking back, that's what it was. There have been some ups, some downs, along with a few hiatuses. But there you have it.

I decided to mark the date with a new, simple design, as well as a new focus for this blog, an explicit statement of the direction I would like to see this blog take. This will mean that some subjects will fade to the back, while others will rise to the fore. In doing so, I am hoping to make this a more valuable undertaking for everyone involved.

The focus is stated in the new title: Designing Learning Environments. I've been thinking about the variety of projects and undertakings I am involved in (my work, my teaching, my research), trying to find a thread that I could use to tie them together and provide a way of understanding what, to some, may seem like an unrelated hodgepodge of ideas. The design of learning environments is that thread.

My research interests focus on the social learning environment. My work as a teacher and administrator, meanwhile, has me looking at the physical and virtual environments in which learning takes place. The subject of my teaching (web design and development) relates directly to the design and construction of virtual environments. This new focus on the design of learning environments is an attempt, then, to use this weblog as a way for me to situate, position, and make sense of that which I will now call "my work."

One last thought: It is slightly depressing to think that the first words I wrote on the web may be the ones I am most proud of:
Spend any time at all surfing the Net, and you quickly discover that there are a lot of people who spend a lot of time and effort publishing information on subjects that interest them. Whether it's a father putting up pictures of his family, a student building a shrine to her cat, a teenager listing the titles in his video game and music collection, or a young lawyer designing a site dedicated to her favorite Californian wines, they all have some things in common. They all feel passionately about something, and they all want to share their passions with others.

It is important to remember that the Web is only a passive, malleable technology. Some people simply want to spend time reading through what others have created. Some want to seek this information out, others want it pushed at them. Still others thrive on many-way communication, and the Internet makes that possible as well. Newsgoups, chat rooms, or simple e-mail all make it possible for people from all over the world to communicate almost effortlessly.

This is cyberspace: the virtual space where all these communications, exchanges, and conversations take place. And [this] is my contribution to that conversation.

I hope that my ongoing contribution will continue to be of interest and of value to you, my reader.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Fewer women working in IT :
'Skill obsolescence is the number one issue for I.T. workers,' Professor Deb Armstrong of the University of Arkansas told NewsFactor. And it turns out, according to a study by Armstrong and her colleagues, that certain facts of women's lives make staying ahead of the game harder than it is for men.
The price of Windows XP Home edition : I know someone who might be getting a used PC, but one without any OS. I just looked into the price of Windows XP Home Edition, and fell off my chair. $450?!? Stangely enough, the Professional version is exactly the same price!

I can't remember the last time I bought Windows separately from the PC. It has always come bundled. But I can tell you that if I needed an OS for my machine, and needed to pay full price, there is no way in hell I would pay $450 for Windows.

At that price, my friend might as well just get a new PC with a warrantee!
Getting your name on the faculty :
The big prize still dangling out there is McGill University's management faculty, which for several years has attached a $40-million price tag to its brand. So far, there are no takers but the school remains confident it will happen.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

edward walking :
edward walking
Originally uploaded by Box and Arrow.

Chirstina took this picture of me last Friday as her, Scott and I were walking back to the hotel. I don't remember her taking it, but I should have known it would happen, since she was taking shots of everything!

(I'm blogging this both to note the picture, as well as to test the idea of using Flickr to blog other people's pictures. (Yes, it takes me a while to figure things out...).)

Another Bell-related photo, this one concerning Bell VoIP FUD
Bell and WiFi : For an extra 8$/month (from what I can tell), you can use your wireless/phone enabled PDA to act as a network hub for your laptop, etc. Sproquit Personal Edition is the software being used to enable this. No mention of the connection speed, though.

I also came across this news release relating to Bell's AccessZone project to turn public phones into wifi spots. Still a pilot project.

Personally, as long as I have to pay by the bucket, I'm not interested. Give me a flat rate, and we'll talk.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Flickr: The IA summit 2005 Pool : About 500 pictures from the conference. Not sure if I'm in any of them, though.
Reflections on IA Summit 2005 : Rather then give you a detailed account of the weekend, I thought I would write a few general thoughts and impressions on the conference. Overall, it was a great conference, one of the better ones I've been to. The reason for that, I think, has to do with the fact that I made an effort to socialize with the other attendees. It isn't often that I'm in a room with a bunch of people who are passionate about IA and web development!

That's not to say that the talks were not excellent as well. Although there were a few rough spots in the talks I attended, those had more to do with me not agreeing with the presenter's take on something then on the quality of the actual presentation itself.

Karl has provided what to me is probably the best way of measuring the quality of a conference, at least on a personal level:
J'ai un indicateur pour savoir si une conférence a été bénéfique pour moi ou pas. C'est le nombre d'idées qui me vient en écoutant les différentes interventions.

In almost every talk I found myself coming up with new ideas (and questions) directly or tangentally related to the subject being presented. It was hard sometimes to not run off and start working or researching some topic or idea right away! Instead, I filled many pages of my notebook with ideas and "to-do/lookup" notes. I also found myself feeling more entergetic and interested in my work and research then I had in a long time. In other words, it was an excellent conference.

I few more general notes. Upon being there, I was disappointed that there wasn't a larger turnout from GSLIS. The school doesn't have an IA track, but there was a lot going on in relation to IR, so I would have expected more interest. Students at least would have gotten a lot out of the conference, although the $200 entrance fee would keep most of them away. Ideally, the school could have somehow arranged to fund a few students, especially with it being a local conference and all. I guess you would need to have a IA faculty member to make something like that happen.

This brings to mind another topic which got a fair bit of discussion at the conference, which is the role of practitioners and academics and the university in the emerging field of information architecture. However, I think I'll leave that for another time.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Back and busy : Yes, I'm back from the IA Summit conference (which was great!), back to work, and quite busy.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Off for the weekend and to the IA Summit : Today has been very busy. Christina and Scott gave a great presentation as GSLIS, and the turnout was good as well. Definately some interest in IA there. I left feeling very glad that we made the effort to put it together.

I'll be at the IA Summit conference from Saturday through Monday, back in the office on Tuesday. I'm not bringing my laptop, although I will be taking (hopefully) copius notes and writing them up afterwards to make available on the web and as a presentation to whatever is interested at GSLIS. I'm looking forward to meeting folks I've only heard of online, without coming off as too much of a fanboy. :P

Anyway, expect light posting here until Tuesday at the earliest.
Flickr: IA summit 2005 : I'll be at the conference this weekend and Monday.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Tim Bray: Google Is Wrong :
Anyhow, this is a policy problem not a technical problem, so here’s a suggestion: perhaps our friends at Creative Commons could have a look and develop a professional legal opinion as to whether their licenses, like the one I use, are infringed by AutoLink (my non-professional opinion is that Google’s damn close to the edge). If not, perhaps they could create a variant license that clearly rules it out of order. Then Google stops, or we sue their ass.

At least, with the idea getting some traction, I don't feel like I've gone mad.

McGill Arts building, this morning. Blue skies means its cooold.
US General McPeak on neoconservatives :
The secret of the neoconservative movement is that it’s not conservative, it’s radical. Guys like me, who are conservatives, are upset about these nenocons calling themselves conservative when they’re so radical.

If you have a chance, read the entire interview. It is slightly encouraging to be reminded that the US is not a monolithic block of support behind the Bush administration.
Tomgram: McGovern on the Iranian and Israeli nuclear programs :
"When a Special Forces platoon leader just back from Iraq matter-of-factly tells a close friend of mine, as happened last week, that he and his unit are now training their sights (literally) on Iran, we need to take that seriously. It provides us with a glimpse of reality as seen at ground level. For me, it brought to mind an unsolicited email I received from the father of a young soldier training at Fort Benning in the spring of 2002, soon after I wrote an op-ed discussing the timing of George W. Bush's decision to make war on Iraq. The father informed me that, during the spring of 2002, his son kept writing home saying his unit was training to go into Iraq. No, said the father; you mean Afghanistan... that's where the war is, not Iraq. In his next email, the son said, 'No, Dad, they keep saying Iraq. I asked them and that's what they mean.'"
Educating the Net Generation :
The Net Generation has grown up with information technology. The aptitudes, attitudes, expectations, and learning styles of Net Gen students reflect the environment in which they were raised—one that is decidedly different from that which existed when faculty and administrators were growing up.

This collection explores the Net Gen and the implications for institutions in areas such as teaching, service, learning space design, faculty development, and curriculum.

The entire book is available online in HTML and PDF format.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Christina Wodtke and Scott Hirsch at McGill: Friday, March 4 : Christina and Scott have been kind enough to drop by GSLIS this Friday to give a presentation on careers in information architecture. The talk is from 12:00 - 1:00, and is open to everyone, so if you can, drop by! (full details)
McGill chooses WebCT Vista : An annoucement just went out here at McGill that we've signed a contract with WebCT to upgrade our current WebCT Campus Edition to their Vista product. Roll-out will start Fall 2005.

Although it may seem like a no-brainer, this is the end of a long, long evaluation process (that I was not involved with at all). I'm glad that the decision was made so that we can move on. I'm really looking forward to playing around with Vista.
Who owns copyright on content posted to Blogger? : On the way home last night, I wondered if, since Blogger is offered by Google as a free service, if there was something in the terms of service that would give Google some sort of shared rights to the content posted by Blogger users. However, this appears to not be the case:
6a. CONTENT OWNERSHIP Unless stated otherwise for specific services, Member will retain copyright ownership and all related rights for information he or she publishes through Blogger or otherwise enters into Blogger-related services.

Taken this morning, just outside the side entrance to the building where I work.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Roger @ plenty of cowbell: Cory - isn’t Google violating your cc license? : Thankfully, the idea is being noticed. The only difference is that Roger's post is being linked to! :P

See also:
Google's raid on the commons
follow-up post
HBS Working Knowledge: Is Business Management a Profession? :
"If management was a licensed profession on a par with law or medicine, there might be fewer opportunities for corporate bad guys, argue HBS professors Rakesh Khurana and Nitin Nohria, and research associate Daniel Penrice."
Fred von Lohmann @ EFF: Who Owns Your Desktop? You Do! :
"When I visit your website, and you send me a page in response, I should be able to do whatever I like to manipulate it on my end. Display it in purple, suppress images, block pop-ups, compare prices from other vendors, whatever. In the words of my colleague, Cory Doctorow, "it's my screen, and I should be able to control it; companies like Google and individuals should be able to provide tools and services to let me control it."

However, it does not give those companies the right to present you with a derivative work and to have that derivation contribute to their commercial activities unless I have expressly given permission allowing my intellectual property to be used in that way.

Where I believe the Google Toolbar has run afoul is that is modifies the content of the page in question, presenting the user with a derivative work (rather then presenting the "added-value" content in a separate sidebar) for example. The fact that Google and/or their partners will benefit commercially from those modifications makes matters worse.

As I've mentionned before, the web is moving towards a model where content is published in a standard, structured format (i.e. XML) expressly so it can be understood and manipulated by software in order to provide users with added value. In the process, however, we need to make sure that the intellectual property rights of individuals and organizations are respected, even if this means more work for software developers and less immediate added value for end-users.
Gmail won't send mail : The one time I'm trying to send mail through my Gmail account, and I'm getting an error, something like "Oops, can't perform operation. Try again in a few seconds" WTF!?!
Morning picture : The morning picture below above was uploaded to this blog using Picasa and Hello. The process is nicely automated, to the degree that for someone like me, who is expecting to have to go through X steps, it is disorienting at first.

And yes, it took me this long to realize that this was the new way to upload images to my Blogger blog.

McGill Morning, March 1, 2005