Sunday, May 27, 2012

World Confederation of Institutes and Libraries in Chinese Overseas Studies 2012 Presentation at UBC


“Chinese Canadian Stories: Uncommon Histories from a Common Past” is community engagement and digitization initiative that contributes to the reconstruction of the identities of Chinese Canadians. Focusing on UBC Library’s role as nexus for university-community engagement, this presentation outlines interactions with the local Chinese communities and their roles in shaping the identities of Chinese Canadians across the Pacific. As a case study of one Canadian academic library’s drive in the recovery, creation, organization, promotion and research of Chinese Canadian historical materials in both English and Chinese, this project showcases the complex links and dynamics between institutional efforts to preserve archival materials for learning and research and the preservation of family history in the community for posterity that can be studied on a number of levels.

 Whereas academic libraries have traditionally concentrated on building collections, providing research support to students and faculty, and offering information literacy instruction, they have always been integrated into the broader aspirations of the university. As the academic library can be natural focal point for this interaction and exchange between academia and community, Chinese Canadian Stories (www.chinesecanadian.ubc.ca) helps position UBC Library as a gathering place for community outreach and community-based research.

 Through this project, it can be said that UBC Library is making a difference in innovatively creating a different approach to the preservation of the Chinese Canadian history and correcting the past’s erasures in Canada’s national memory, by working with academics, libraries and archives as well as the diverse communities of Canada. In all, UBC collaborated with twentyeight communities across Canada – from Victoria, BC to St. John’s, Newfoundland – to document the history of Chinese families in the twentieth century. This paper presents the project of “Chinese Canadian Stories” as a model for how an academic library can successfully collaborate with an ethnic community to preserve their culture and history and brought a new awareness of their social identity. The benefits and challenges of such collaboration are discussed in the context of a real-world application. And recommendations for future applications are presented.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Augmented Reality In Glasses?


Google's latest foray in augmented reality has really impressed me.  It's already done well with Google Goggles.  It's pushing boundaries of augmented reality with its latest innovation in the form of wearable glasses.   Educational experts are pointing to augmented reality as the next wave of technology to transform the way instructors teach and students learn.

Augmented reality provides a powerful constructivist experience for exploration and discovery of the connected nature of information in the physical world. It also aligns with situated learning in that it that permits experimentation and exploration to take place in the same context in which the activity occurs.  Augmented reality has much potential for serious gaming applications, as it adds an element of game simulation in the application.

In the Horizon Report, a research report published annually by the education think tank New Media Consortium that charts the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning and creative inquiry, has forecast in their 2010 and 2011 reports that augmented reality as an educational technology will be a be an integral tool in education.  Imagine a student as he waves his mobile device around the room to "uncover" hidden texts and information embedded on a world map on the wall with questions and answers all there for the student to view.   Or imagine a doctoral student completing his American history dissertation scanning his mobile device over certain key hot spots in the in the Jefferson Library in the Library of Congress and being able to not only pick out each title on his device, but also open the digital book and flip through each page.

Whether Google Glasses will take off or not is beside the point: Google Glasses is one example of where "augmented reality" glasses is another step in the direction of the Internet-of-things -- where the virtual world and the real world collide and merge.  This early prototype of the Google Glasses, which is developed from the same individuals that crafted self-driven cars, can snap photos, initiate videochats and display directions at the sound of a user.  While augmented reality has been long in development, particularly by military and private commercial industries, augmented reality hasn't hit full force until just recently.   It's exciting to see where it will go.  How will libraries take full advantage of this?   Time will tell.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Future of Libraries? Or the Nextflix of the Future?

Although there has been a plethora of articles in the literature about the future of libraries, one recent ones stand out as they purposefully ask librarians to take a step back and caution about the optimistic future that Library 2.0. Steve Coffman's The Decline and Fall of the Library Empire is a particularly sobering look into the state of libraries.   With the decline of video stores, DVD and music sales, and withering of bookstores, one needs to take a closer look at how libraries will fare down the road.   Maybe librarians won't be there when the semantic web arrives; or as e-Books dominate reading experiences.  Perhaps becoming gaming centres and virtual e-Book stores might not be the way to go.  Coffman remarkably synthesizes the challenges with some highlight packaged quotes:

On cataloguing websites: "...remember those heady early days when we thought we were going to catalog the web? OCLC even set up a whole project for this task back around the turn of the century (sounds like a long time ago, doesn’t it?). It was called CORC, or Collaborative Online Resource Catalog. Librarians around the world were supposed to select and catalog “good, librarian-certified” web resources. There was even talk of assigning Dewey numbers to websites — an idea which I’m sure would have brought tears to the eyes of many, especially our patrons. Today, the only evidence you can find of CORC is a few sentences in a list of abandoned research projects on the OCLC website and some links to PowerPoints and articles saluting it — most now more than 10 years old"

On virtual reference: "...although virtual reference is still around — supplemented by “text” and SMS — it is a mere shadow of its former self. Most of the commercial vendors closed up shop. The QuestionPoint 24/7 service stays in the business, probably because it does not have quite the same profit requirement as the commercial services. The Virtual Reference Conference is gone and, while you can still find a few programs on virtual reference at regular library conferences, today it’s far more likely to be a “talk table” than a room jampacked with hundreds of avid librarians, the way it was back in the old days."

On libraries: "....the world is moving on. Each service we’ve provided in the digital arena is being superseded by new technologies or by other organizations better suited to deliver services. When Google is finished scanning it will have no more use for library collections. So after 50 years in the digital market, libraries are back where they started. Our electronic library has been built, but others own and manage it. We are left with the property we began with, physical books and buildings that house them. In reality, those are not inconsiderable assets in a world where it may be uneconomical to have physical bookstores or places where people can get together to listen to stories or discuss books and ideas....Figuring out how to exploit those assets in this new environment will not be easy."

Netflix is a stark reminder of how soluble a seemingly immovable powerhouse like Blockbuster can be driven out of the retail video business within a few short years upon the arrival of a cheaper, more accessible competitor.  Libraries are certainly aware of the challenges of space, information, and literacy.   Coffman questions that had books been inexpensive in the 19th century, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie would've spent his money elsewhere: yet, he chose libraries, for they offered a public good in promoting reading through book collections.  The Gates Foundation supported libraries in the 1990's when libraries became the forefront for providing free internet service at a formative period when service charges were unaffordable for most.  

With social catalogues like LibrarythingGoodreads, Google Books, and Amazon, traditional library functions are being challenged from all perspectives.   But like all other professions and services, the future is indeterminate - and whatever happens will be unrecognizable from its current form today.  Will libraries continue to be supported by public funding?  Could we envision a hybrid model of a commercialized-private industry, integrated and rebranded with online bookstores and publishers?  Or could we envision libraries being reformulated for a different mandate altogether?  Could another Andrew Carnegie come along charged with a mission to change the world, using libraries as the engine to engage communities?  Would it be in the form of books?  Or would it be a completely different service?   

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wither the University? Or Simply, the Educational Long Tail



Director of Center for 21st Century Universities and Professor of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Richard Demillo has an intriguingly controversial argument about higher education: it isn't working.  With rising costs of tuition and textbooks, higher education has outpriced too many.  Demillo sees some worrisome trends for the future. While the elite Ivy League and prestigious schools such as Harvard and Yale's are likely to survive any environment, the majority of public institutions of learning are walking towards the path of self-destruction. With enrolments decreasing each year, institutions are still turning away potential students.  In Abelard to Apple, DeMillo traces the history of the university system to its origins in European monasteries, and sees that the centuries-old model of higher education inherited by American institutions are out of tune with the the social, historical, and economic forces at work in today's world.

Online Universities -  If University of Phoenix, Open University, and Athabasca University is showing us, distance education is enormously successful, and is giving campuses of higher education a run for its money.   Students find great value for their tuition fees and the business model is efficient and profitable.  Demillo sees online universities in fact returning to the origins of European universities -as learning institutions that is not restricted by class or economy.  

Industry Drives Education - Regardless of the philosophy of higher education, students enrol at higher education with an intent for employment.  Universities in India and China are at the cutting edge of creating new areas of research that synchronizes with the needs of industry.  Demillo points out institutions such as Zhejiang University's newly opened Department of Ocean Sciences in 2009 which puts theory into practice by fusing engineering with coastal trade being innovative in fusing the practical needs of trade in that area with the latest research in the interdisciplinary sciences.   It's a conundrum: does a liberal arts education actually foster or prevent critical thinking? Demillo seems to believe that universities and colleges theorize to the point that it does its graduates disservice by training them to think as their professors.

A New Way To Be Accredited  - Accreditation hampers education more than anything.  If anything, Apple's iTunes U and MIT's OpenCourseWare has also shown that with the web, learning has not only become accessible, but free.   Massive open online course (MOOC) courses where the participants are distributed and course materials also are dispersed across the web.  Breaking apart the fabric of the current system, Demillo argues that accreditation of a degree should not be at the whim of universities.  Could we imagine a future where students can pick and choose their own degrees? Could they tailor their studies to what they truly want to learn?  Could this be achieved in an open system where universities champion the ecology of courses rather than the rigidity of structure?   Will the future of higher learning be based on this educational long tail work

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Open Access or Digital Parasites?

Mozart in training
Robert Levine's Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are destroying the culture business, and how the culture business can fight back offers some fascinating thoughts. Good thing he's not giving it away online in PDF.   Levine makes some interesting points: online users (and customers) love the technology free ride.  Why bother buying CD's and DVD's when they're easily streamed or downloadable?

Media companies on whom the digital industry feeds out of business are going out of business. As Levin points out, "Newspaper stocks have fallen to all-time lows as papers are pressured to give away content, music sales have fallen by more than half since file sharing became common, TV ratings are plum­meting as viewership migrates online, and publishers face off against Amazon over the price of digital books."

It's true: the media industry has lost control.  It's fighting and desperately clawing and hanging its way confusingly to stay afloat.  Part of the problem is that the history of copyright has existed long before the digital world disorder.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) was passed in 1998, seven years before YouTube.  Seven years before remixing became the norm.  Legal scholar Lawrence Lessig has merit when he argues that "creative remixing" is healthy within reason.   Yet it appears that the balance has been tipped to the point where it could have harmful effects on the culture industries.  Here are a few points:

Copyright and Originality - Sure, YouTube might produce some unique content, but how original really are they? Much of the viral remixes we view online are based on the original products that had been built on the backs of commercial enterprses.   Could there be Chad Vader without StarWars?    There might have been some unique online stars created overnight, but ultimately these stars still require real agents to promote their originality.  They ultimately require people to buy their originality whatever form that may be.   There are many who don't necessarily require monetary gains; but ultimately most do.  And it isn't through Google Ads.

Content Quality - Yes, it seems print newspapers have also given way to digital content.  Commercial newspapers are giving away their copies for free.  Content is given away as "information wants to be free."   It's an exciting time for open access and open source.  Chris Anderson had long argued that businesses should give it all away for free.   But is this really for the best though?  For one thing, anyone can open a blog and write about the news - it's called grassroots citizen journalism.  But much of it is run on shoe string budgets.  Editorial oversight is thinly disguised.  Much of the news aggregators in fact churn out such news that way.   Look at the Huffington Post.

E-Books & Authorship - Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is one of the first services to allow for any writers to self-publish books on the Amazon Kindle Store.  It's supposed to be the future of publishing.  To cut out the middleman the publisher so that the author can directly publish his work inexpensively and accessibly.  It will democratize the literary world.  It will change the book industry; with e-books, who needs to purchase directly from a publisher when it can be easily created and bought in digital form?  Just hire a designer and a copy editor (or not).  But is that really how it will happen?   Perhaps not.  With publishers no longer involved, who will promote emerging writers?   For decades publishing houses have bought the rights of the author's creativity in return for selling their books.  Without them, will new authors be able to compete with the established stars?   Does the long tail promised by Chris Anderson really work for those artists on the tail who need to survive on next to nothing until they get noticed?

Will artists return to the patronage system as in the days of Mozart?  Levine brings forth a really intriguing and plausible scenario.  Before the days of record companies and career agents, the only way performers, musicians, painters, and sculptors could maintain their art work was through the financial support of the nobility and the wealthy.  With the demise of the commercial industries, will artists revert back to this classical period?  Will cultural producers such as authors and musicians rely only on the rich to support them? 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

An Internet of Things in Education



This year’s Horizon Report 2012 identifies mobile apps and tablet computing as technologies expected to enter mainstream use in the first horizon of one year or less.  Of the six technologies highlighted in the Horizon Report, two were also noted in the 2011 edition. Game-based learning remains in the two- to three-year horizon, as does gesture-based computing in the four- to five-year horizon.  For the first time, Internet of Things is introduced and is seen emerging in the third horizon of four to five years.

I'm most intrigued by the report's Internet of Things.  I've noted in the past that the Internet of Things (IOT) will be a driving force in not only web and internet technologies, but will be an ubiquitous part of our lives, seamlessly integrated into our personal lives.  Imagine being able to tag physical objects and being able to connect them to the web.  Ultimately, the IOT extends the way we understand and convey information, thus making objects addressable (and findable) on the Internet is the next step in the evolution of smart objects — interconnected items in which the line between the physical object and digital information about it is blurred.

In the Physics of the Future, Michio Kaku has already pointed this out.  Ubiquitous computing frees the chip from the computer.   Thousands of chips scattered everywhere there is an object, being tagged as it is produced.  Is this exciting or will it just be confusing?  Information specialists will also be important if this technology is to take off.  If the web is one big disorganized mess, what will happen once the physical world expands this messiness?

This has to be an exciting time for libraries.  The Internet of Things is really not so different from what libraries have faced since the card catalogue days: collocating disparate pieces of information from the books to cards.  Eventually it became matching the physical (books) with the digital (OPAC).  Then it evolved to bar codes.  Then RFID with library books.  As a metaphor, the IOT takes this beyond the walls of libraries and extends beyond tagging a book to just about anything that has shape and form.  I encourage you to watch the video above.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Demise of Tradition?

“I’m not interested in selling a bowl. That’s not the business I’m going to be in,” Heather Reisman told the Globe and Mail in November. “I am interested in creating an experience around the table for the customer.” As MacLean's article recently argues, that Indigo Chapters “experience” paradoxically relies on the cultural patina of books—and their ability to provide product adjacencies, especially around cookbooks and children’s books, two categories predicted to defy digitization. As the article asserts,
"The new product mix is wisely skewed to women, the primary book buyers, and exudes comfort, warmth and well-being: teapots, wine decanters, yoga socks, lavender-camomile bubble bath, pretty notepaper and $28 olive oil."
What's happened to the Blockbusters (or Rogers Video, in Canada) is slowly happening to bookstores.   What's happening to Virgin Records and HMV is slowly happening to bookstores.   The method for how one purchases CD's and DVD's has been completely transformed; the way for how consumers borrow a movie is also completely reversed.    Venerable old Yellow Pages which for decades has been the point of destination when it came to finding names and businesses has also lost its market.  People have moved away from the product experience to the "digital experience," and it's really interesting seeing the dramatic change in the way publishing, bookstores, and libraries are transitioning.

In a way, these three businesses - publishing, book selling, and librarianship - have been the last to be revolutionized by the digital world although the tensions are there and the changes are coming swiftly.  With all these changes in business, it is fair to say that it seems libraries and publishing have been the late in the game to be hit with changes.  Two reports indicate more changes to come with print.  The bookstore model has been altered with less demand for books: but how will publishing and libraries fare?

In a recent study released by the Education Advisory Board, Redeļ¬ning the Academic Library: Managing the Migration to Digital Information Services, it proposes for wholesale changes to how academic libraries are run: workflow efficiency, relationships with journal publishers, patron-driven acquisitions model, repurposing library spaces, and organizational cultures.   In a report prepared for the Association of Canadian Publishers called The Impact of Digitization on the Book Industry, proposes that Canadian publishers should brace themselves in digital rights management, copyright, and e-books.   Is this the death of the book?   (A popular question nowadays). 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How To Build




Srinivas Rao is the author of The Skool of Life and is a blogging expert.  I came across this excellent presentation created by Rao.   How to "Build An Insanely Loyal Tribe."  I am intrigued.  I hope you are to.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Affordances of the $100 Laptop

The XO-1, previously known as the $100 Laptop, is an inexpensive computer intentionally to be distributed to children in developing countries around the world, to allow for access to knowledge, and opportunities to "explore, experiment and express themselves.”   Soon the the third-generation XO-3 will be release in 2012.  By constructivist standards, the One Laptop Per Child program is a dream come true.  It certainly allows for students to construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences.  What better way than to permit a child in the slums of India to use Google to search the world of its wonders?

MIT’s One Laptop per Child Project is indeed a compelling, contemporary design for a learning environment, as it aims to provide each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop.  As MIT’s OLCP asserts, “To this end, we have designed hardware, content and software for collaborative, joyful, and self-empowered learning. With access to this type of tool, children are engaged in their own education, and learn, share, and create together. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.” 

I’d like to take a closer look at the structures of affordances, particularly how Donald Norman believes design is of the utmost priority, particularly the affordances construct where properties of the objects that set up a relationship between those objects, possibilities for action in the design, and users who encounter them.  When does glass become useful for windows; when does it become an eating utensil?   As Norman puts it, “Anything we can interact with is an affordance.”  The same lenses should be gazed upon educational technologies.

As much as a technologist as Steve Jobs was, he certainly prioritized the practicalities of design.  As he puts it, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”  Contextualized as a piece of “educational design,” I wonder then how the pieces of the $100 Laptop puzzle works.  For example, who teaches the digital literacy?  What lessons are planned in advance?  Are students simply allowed to surf aimlessly or are there specific learning resources used?   Will e-Books be provided?    While its website provides multitude of success stories, how are children really instructed?  It is a courageous novelty to provide luxuries to children (of any socioeconomic structure) for education, I just wonder how these digital literacies are being nurtured?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

UnLibrary Service Model




Gene Tan is one those rare individuals that is making a difference in the profession of librarians, one innovation at a time. A creator of Ask Stupid Questions, Aspiration PathfinderTM and Bear FruitTM. Ask Stupid Questions is a reference inquiry gameshow that is based on a concoction of brainstorming, gameshow format, relays, music and play. The intention is to have staff get off their comfy seats, break out of their inhibitions and start rattling off "stupid questions" to develop creative ideas for key projects. So successful has the programme been that it caught the eye of the private sector -- Sun Microsystems became the first private sector organisation to include the workshop as part of its drive to generate new marketing ideas for the following year, and several more rounds in the private sector, including companies like SingTel, as well as non-profit bodies such as the Association of Diabetes Educators, and a core training programme for the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC). Ask Stupid Question's popularity has grown almost exponentially, as it has been conducted at more than 50 organisations for over 2,000 participants. 

In addition to the Aspiration Pathfinder, an experience-driven subject discovery programme, experiments with combining the travel experience with library services and Bear Fruit do-good, a creativity programme conducted for the benefit of institutions such as the Institute of Mental Health, Tan also developed programmes, conferences and exhibitions to bring libraries into the mainstream of businesses, institutions and communities in Singapore. Tan also directed Singapore Memory, a national digital project to collect, preserve and access Singapore’s knowledge assets to tell the Singapore Story.

Certainly both pioneering and controversial, Tan calls this unconventional method the "UnLibrary Service." Arguing that the traditional model of library service has been bounded by time, place and transaction, the UnLibrary service model seeks to free library services from these constraints in order to deliver these services on the premise that time, place and transaction are not constrained or pre-determined. Instead, services are treated to a new platform for the delivery of these services: the human experience. Sounds nice, but what are the mechanisms for this? Tan coins this the "three experiences" - Experience by Straying; Experience by Mystery; and Experience by Subversion. Catchy, but does it work everywhere? It'll be interesting to replicate it.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Future of Shift


In 1970, Alvin Toffler's Future Shock altered the world's thinking by arguing that society was facing a "future shock," a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies -- namely that the world had "too much change in too short a period of time."   Toffler popularized new concepts such as "information overload" and the "third wave." His insights resulted in a US president to commission a special report, inspired cultural and artistic creations, and gave a powerful new concept to the social sciences.

Could Lynda Gratton's Shift: The Future Work is Already Here have a similar influence in the way we perceive the world and work?   It's certainly too early to see, but from judging the arguments made and the quality of thought put into the book, there is great potential.

A faculty at the University of London's Business School, Gratton looks at current developments of the world, and predicts what it would look like in 2025. A workbook created is available for download that offers readers an opportunity to think more deeply about how to go about crafting one's working future. Follow the three steps and ten questions to make the Shift yourself - Download The Shift workbook. Free of business jargon or economic models, the book is offers refreshing look at what might be, not what the world should be.  This book is an excellent companion for any librarian and information worker who is truly interested in how information, data, and the web is altering our work and our lives

1.  Force of Technology - Ten pieces of this technological puzzle includes: technological capability increases exponentially; five billion become connected; the Cloud becomes ubiquitous; continuous productivity gains; social participation increases; the world's knowledge becomes digitalized; mega-companies and micro-entrepreneurs emerge; avatars and virtual worlds; the rise of cognitive assistants; technology replaces jobs.

2.  Force of Globalization - Eight storylines that emerge: 24/7 and the global world; the emerging economies; China and India's decades of growth; frugal innovation; the global educational powerhouses; the world becomes urban; continued bubbles and crashes; the regional underclass emerge

3.  Force of Demography and Longevity - Four trends will emerge: the ascendance of Generation Y; increasing longevity; some baby boomers grow old and poor; global migration increases

4.  Force of Society - Seven developments will reshape our way of living: families become re-arranged; the rise of reflexivity; the role of powerful women; the balanced man; growing distrust of institutions; the decline of happiness; passive leisure increases

5.   Force of Energy and Resources - Three emerging trends in energy that will affect the way we work: energy prices increase; environmental catastrophes displace people; a culture of sustainability begins to emerge


Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Fall of Faculty?


Benjamin Ginsberg's latest book, The Fall of the Faculty, is a scathing yet insightful analysis into the increasing tensions between university faculty and its administration.    A polarizing book to say the least -- verging on the edges of controversy -- Ginsberg asserts that since the turn of the century, universities have increasingly added layers of administrators and staffers to their payrolls every year even while laying off full-time faculty in increasing numbers -- all in the name of budget cuts.

While many of these non-academic--administrators are merely "career managers" who not only reduce the importance of teaching and research, they also manipulate the legitimate grievances of minority groups and liberal activists to "chess pieces" in a game of power politics. By championing initiatives such as affirmation action, social justice, and gender rights, the administration has gained favor with these groups, while boosting their own powers over the faculty.  Intensely fascinating, heavily cloaked with sarcasm and wit, this work is definitely going to be a polemical force in years to come in the academic world.

The danger of Ginsberg's arguments -- though cogently displayed -- is that it potentially creates more problems than solutions.   (In fact, Ginsberg offers very few).   Ginsberg's confidence that the university is the nurturer of society's ideas and hotbed of political and industrial movements -- where the Silicon Valley's and the Civil Rights movements had its origins -- has been the discord of many who dispute that the university is out of touch with that very society that Ginsberg's university seeks to salvage.  In somewhat patriarchal fashion, the notion that faculty is the central raison d'etre of the university place perhaps not only distances the university from society, but places its students as almost an afterthought.   While one cannot fault Ginsberg's hesitations about the rise of managerialism and bureaucracy at the expense of efficiency and mandate of teaching and learning so central for higher education, the idea that increasing the leverage of faculty alone can be the solution potentially further deepens the view that the university is sheltered behind the ivory walls of academia.  Is it irony or is it a paradox?   

Monday, October 31, 2011

Great By Choice

Jim Collins' Great by Choice is another classic in the making.  After Good to Great and How the Mighty Fall, Collins' latest book examines what defines greatness in times of turmoil and instability.   10Xers are those that lead organizations to greatness.   Yet these traits and skills are also habits that can be learned and possessed over time.   Through rigorous research into companies, Collins and his research team reveals three concepts which distinguishes performers that excel above the rest.   Collins' findings correlate closely with his earlier research.  Hard work, persistence, low maintenance, and high quality work all pervade heavily in the ingredients to success.
1.  20 Mile March - Requiring great consistency and discipline over a long period of time, delivering high performance in difficult times, and holding back in good times.  Much more than philosophy, the march is about having concrete, clear, intelligent and rigorously pursued performance mechanisms that keeps one on track.  Think of climbing a mountain every day at 20 mile intervals, despite the weather, despite the conditions.  The maxim "never too high, never too low" is concisely the point here.

2.  Fire Bullets, Then Cannon Balls - Success is never a single-step creative breakthrough when in fact, it comes about as a multistep iterative process based more upon empirical validation than visionary genius.  The idea of bullets is to make small ventures -- small steps -- and learn from potential mistakes, before firing the "cannon balls."  

3.  Productive Paranoia - Success is never complacent.   As a result, 10x'ers prepare obsessively ahead of time, all the time, for what they cannot possibly predict.  They assume that a series of bad events can happen at anytime; it's what one does before a storm hits that matters most.  While one cannot predict more than 1% of when a disaster will strike, one can comfortably be assured with 100% certainty that disaster will strike at any time.  Therefore, one must be ready at all times.



Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Libraries in a Digital Frontier: Preserving Chinese Canadian Cultural Heritage



I'm really pleased to present to you my latest publication.   With my terrific colleague at the University of British Columbia Library, Yu Li and and I, we co-published, Libraries in a Digital Frontier: Preserving Chinese Canadian Cultural Heritage.  As a three-year community-based research project at the University of British Columbia, Chinese Canadian Stories: Uncommon Histories from a Common Past is government grant-funded project by the Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP) that brings together the expertise and resources of a wide range of UBC Library units and off-campus partners: from the digitization of archival material of UBC Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections; to the digital storage infrastructure of UBC’s Digital Initiatives; to the community outreach and digital technology of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre; to the Chinese language online resources and community historical preservation expertise of the Asian Library. 

A labour of our love these past three years, Lilly and I presented our project to an audience in Beijing, China at the International Conference on Asia-Pacific Digital Libraries (ICADL 2011) "Digital Libraries -- for Culture Heritage, Knowledge Dissemination, and Future Creation" in Beijing, China, Oct 24-27, 2011.  Through this project, a number of partnerships with community and civic institutions nationwide were formed.  This UBC-library led project focuses on three initiatives: a one-stop web portal, a series of community workshops, and digital interactive cultural game using cutting edge technologies. This paper is a progress report of the project.  For more information about this unique project, there are a couple of websites you should visit:

http://chinesecanadian.ubc.ca

http://ccs.library.ubc.ca/

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Digital Humanities for Librarianship

Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) has been a rising force in the digital humanities (affectionately known simply as “DH” in the field).  Having been hosted at the University of Victoria campus for more than 10 years now, DHSI has provided an ideal environment for discussing and learning about new computing technologies and how they are influencing teaching, research, dissemination, and preservation in different disciplines.  Every year, faculty, staff, and students from the Arts, Humanities, Library, and Archives communities as well as independent scholars and participants from industry and government sectors participate in the DHSI.    Digital Humanists can no longer be classified as a “fringe group” or sub-discipline; it’s grown to encompass its own set of theories, best practices, industry standards, and scholarly publications.     What is DH and why should we care?   Simply put, it touches on so much, as
an area of study, research, teaching, and invention concerned with the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities. Sometimes called humanities computing, the field has focused on the digitization and analysis of materials related to the traditional disciplines of the humanities. Digital Humanities currently incorporates both digitized and born-digital materials and combines the methodologies from the traditional humanities disciplines (such as historyphilosophylinguisticsliteratureartarchaeologymusic, and cultural studies) with tools provided by computing (such as data visualisationdata retrieval, computational analysis) and digital publishing.
One of this year’s themes of DHSI 2011 is Editing Modernism in Canada, or better known as EMiC.    Bridging academia, technology, and industry, EMiC has slowly risen as the hub for training and networking graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, professors, publishers, and technologists.  Where traditional disciplines shun digital technologies, EMiC fills in by providing the resources necessary for researchers to conduct literary projects using cutting edge technologies, be it digitization, text-encoding initiative markups, or social media fluencies.   Although it aims primarily at preserving Canadian modernist literature, it serves as a the gold standard in innovation for the digital humanities field.
It seems an opportune time for academic libraries to take note.  To a certain extent, academic libraries have slowly shifted in that direction, with such positions as Digital Humanities Librarian at Brown University’s Center for Digital Scholarship.    University of Toronto Library has its own digital scholarship librarian, and in the process of creating its own Digital Scholarship Unit.  The University of British Columbia Library forged ahead in creating a brand new division called Digital Initiatives.   It seems quite clear: academic libraries have an important voice in DH.   For humanists, who only recently had been questioned whether it will survive the 21st century, it’s only logical to collaborate with one of academia’s oldest partner: the library.  So let’s move forward.