Archive for the 'personal' category

My son, interviewed by Bora!

Jul 31 2009 Published by under blogging, personal

My son Sam is a budding scientist and blogger. He came to the ScienceOnline09 conference in North Carolina with me this past January and had a great time.

Needless to say, Bora has tracked him down and interviewed him here.

How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook? How much will they in the future?

In Grade 9, I had a science project to do that was supposed to be about anything that had to do with the curriculum. They were pretty loose on this definition: if it in any way had to do with space, biology, physics, or electromagnetism (the very direct subset of physics we went into with more detail), you could go on any sort of quest to find out more about it provided you could and it was legal. This was such an open-ended and large assignment that my mind was blown for a couple of minutes (not because it was only one or another, but both). Then I wasn't sure what to do. I can't remember who later suggested a blog (me or my dad, who's prodded me a lot and for a while now to keep my blog going), but I ended up writing a blog about what I could learn about space exploration. It has simply become my blog, and is found at I've been filling the blog with things I find online, when I get inspired (but often when my dad asks for some consistency, too; he still often gives me great places to go, too), and it's had a few visitors from Google or links from my dad's blog. I guess it shouldn't be too surprising that a solid portion of these visitors have been from faraway countries, but it's still amazing to see that tracked.

...And now back to our regularly scheduled summer blogging break.

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Summer blogging break

Jul 24 2009 Published by under admin, personal

Yes, it's here. My annual summer blogging break. A time to recharge my blogging batteries.

Time to pack up my virtual bags, hop on my ePlane and take a posting holiday. As usual, I'll be offline for the next four weeks or so, probably back the week of August 24th. I have scheduled some posts for my absence, however: four Friday Fun posts as well as four items I'm reposting from the old blog.

As for the summer reading poll, I guess it's now time to declare the two winners:

The two polls received 117 votes between them. Thanks to everyone who participated! I'll probably do this again as it was great fun. Watch this space for reviews of the two books when I return.

It's interesting to note that the Feynman bio got more than the next three books combined -- a message that I'm crazy for having missed reading such a classic!

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Ask me an easy question too!

Jul 13 2009 Published by under blogging, personal

Between the fact that I'm still not completely recovered from my epically awful day last Friday and the blogging lethargy that always comes as my summer blogging break approaches, all the blogging-related brain cells I have left are completely fried.

Fortunately, Chad comes to the rescue with a great idea!

I'll run this more or less the same way he's doing it:

  • Ask me any relatively straight forward question here in the comments and I'll answer it either in the comments or in it's own post.
  • Think questions that I could answer in a paragraph or so.
  • No topic restrictions -- library stuff, pop culture, anything. Personal stuff, politics, religion and the like are all in bounds, but I'll delete or not answer anything rude or overly intrusive.
  • I'm also thinking of doing one of those "introduce yourself" posts, keeping in the same spirit.

18 responses so far

York University's difficult year

Jun 22 2009 Published by under personal, yorku

Although I didn't blog about it at all (I did Twitter and Friendfeed about it a bit), many of you are probably aware that my work place, York University (Wikipedia) in Toronto, had a very difficulty time this past academic year with a strike, student protests and unrest as well as some disturbing on-campus violence. While trying, we did all get through it pretty well and things seem to be getting back on track. Enrollment will be down a bit in many departments come September, but the longer term prospects are very good.

York is still a very good place to work and go to school.

For those that are interested, the Globe and Mail has a chronology of the year.

They also have an very good interview with out president, Mamdouh Shoukri.

Asked to chart his progress, Dr. Shoukri offers up examples of subtle change, such as more involvement by leading researchers in the workings of the university and a new generation of faculty who are helping to shape the campus. "Unfortunately, it has taken a little longer," he says of his larger plan. The 12-week dispute with teaching assistants and contract faculty also has set the powerful union local back on its heels: It wound up settling for a three-year deal similar to the offer it had rejected three months earlier. "It was a crushing defeat," says Tyler Shipley, a graduate student who was a union spokesman during the strike and disagreed with the leadership's decision to accept the deal this spring. With labour peace - at least for the next three years - Dr. Shoukri argues York is positioned to make advances. He's just finished a reorganization of the university and put his own team in place, appointing Osgoode Hall Law School dean Patrick Monahan to the new position of provost. One of Mr. Monahan's first duties is to head a task force with a mandate to help restore civil debate. York also won big in recent federal and provincial stimulus spending, receiving $95-million for a new life-sciences building and a law-school expansion.

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Father's Day!

Jun 22 2009 Published by under personal, science books

Yesterday was Father's Day, of course, always a fun occasion for us dads. I'm generally not a huge fan of fake holidays but I usually find a way to make peace with them if they're all about presents for me.

In any case, I thought I'd share my take for this year as I think at least some of the items I received have a broader interest. It's also worth noting that in my family we usually take an attitude of enlightened self-interest for fake holiday gift giving -- in other words, the giver is allowed to give something they themselves would be interested in. We've come to calling that practice "Pulling a Daniel" after my younger son, who seems to have a particular gift for it.

Here goes:

We actually spent most of yesterday running a yard sale to get rid of a few years of accumulated junk, especially about 10 boxes of book. It went very well -- we made a few hundred bucks plus we got rid of a lot of stuff.

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Walt is in the house!

Jun 11 2009 Published by under blogging, personal

It's with great pleasure that I welcome Walt Crawford and his blog, Walt at Random, to the ScienceBlogs family.

I've been following Walt's writings on the library world for a long time, probably at least seven years, and his Cites &Insights ejournal is a terrific source of links and commentary. Interestingly, it was Walt that inspired me to blog. Interesting, you say, because I've actually been blogging longer than Walt. How is this possible?

Well, it's those early days of Cites & Insights that inspired me to start expressing myself on professional topics. At the time, I was under no illusion that I'd actually be able to produce something similar on a regular schedule, but since blogging was just starting to emerge as a mass activity, I thought I'd give that a try and have been blogging since October 2002. The rest, for better or worse, is history. It's been a great year for me professionally so far, much of it thanks to my blogging activities. I was pleased to finally meet Walt this year at the Ontario Library Association conference.

Thanks, Walt, and welcome.

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Librarians: Why do you read ScienceBlogs?

May 21 2009 Published by under librarianship, personal, social media

Apparently, there are thousands of librarians that read ScienceBlogs. No surprisingly, the ScienceBlogs brain trust wants to know why.

In particular, they are looking to gather some information about what librarians hope to get out of reading the site. The question is: how does the content on ScienceBlogs help you in your role as a librarian?

You can send your thoughts to editorial at scienceblogs dot com or just leave it as a comment here.

I'll start.

I'm a science librarian so I have a couple of information needs in my work. First of all, I need to understand science and where it's going. New developments, new discoveries, important trends.

Second of all, I need to understand scientists and their culture. How do scientists do their work, how do they find the information they need to do that work, what issues obsess them and what needs drive them. I need to know what's happening with trends in scholarly publishing and how that's affecting scientists. In particular, I need to understand how open access and open science plays into all this and what arguments both proponents and opponents are using. This kind of information will help me understand my users better and help them with their information needs as well as to be a more effective advocate for openness on my campus.

ScienceBlogs helps me with those information needs.

(Christina has also asked the question.)

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A new chapter

May 18 2009 Published by under admin, personal

Here I am on ScienceBlogs, moved from the comfortable confines of my old blog, where I've been active since October 2002.

The opportunity to come here was never anything I really expected or pursued, but now that I'm here I'm really excited to start this new chapter in my blogging existence.

How did it happen, you ask? Well, it all started last week with a post I did about the "Are You a Librarian" survey that Seed was running on the site at the time. Basically, the survey was a marketing tool trying to encourage librarians to subscribe to Seed Magazine for their institutions. I was totally ok with that (we subscribe to Seed at MPOW), but at the same time I'd been kind of hoping for a deeper engagement with the library community on Seed's part.

Well, I guess I got my wish. Sarah Glasser from Seed contacted me a few days later, asking about what I'd been hoping for, and, oh, by the way, how about being part of engaging the librarian community on a deeper level. The next thing you know, I'm in touch with Erin Johnson and the next thing you know after that, here I am typing into the rather unfamiliar (for me) Movable Type interface.

So, who exactly am I anyways? Well, I have a B.Comp.Sci. (1986) from Concordia University in Montreal. After that, I worked as a software developer for a big insurance broker for twelve years, mostly working in dBase, FoxPro, Wang Pace, Cobol and at the end, PowerBuilder. Tiring of the life of the developer, I changed careers and went back to school to become a librarian, taking the Masters of Library and Information Studies program at McGill University. That brings us to 2000, when I graduated and, along with my family, moved to Toronto to take a science librarian job at York University. (More history here and here.)

Now, I'm about a year and half into a five year term as head of the Steacie Science & Engineering Library.

What do I blog about? Mostly about what it's like to be a science librarian at the beginning of the 21st century: science, computer science, online community building, blogging, open access, open science, science 2.0, collections, databases, ebooks, science books. The whole shooting match. Let's just say, I was at SciBarCamp last weekend and everyone I talked to basically wanted to know where libraries are going these days and how we'll stay relevant to the born digital generation. So, yes, I'm obsessed with that stuff too.

What do I bring to the ScienceBlogs table? I hope a greater appreciation amongst scientists what their local science librarians have to offer, both in terms of their teaching and research. I also hope to be able to bring to the librarians that visit me here a greater appreciation of what it's like to be a scientist in the 21st century, too.

So, to all of you encountering my blog here for the first time, welcome! My best known posts so far have been the My Job in 10 Years series, some book reviews as well as my series of interviews with people in the scitech world.

Enjoy! I hope that will be enough to get to know me a little bit. I'll be back with a bunch of new posts this week and beyond, including another announcement.

38 responses so far

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