Where to now, my friend? (Image is public domain)

When I was a librarian, people thought I sat in a room all day with dusty books. Meanwhile neither I nor my colleagues could remember the last time they read a book for pleasure.

Now that I have a PhD, people think it’s the same, only possibly worse because tenure and not getting fired and boring, pointless lectures. As if.

I am not too interested in the stereotypes.

(Okay, maybe once in a while I will blast “Our Lips Are Sealed” by the GoGos over a Bloody Caesar in frustration.)

I got into a PhD because, at around 2009, I…


Hands-on Tutorials

Science data is available at your fingertips. Here’s a way to ingest it into your Akka/Scala projects.

ERDDAP is a tool produced by the NOAA to provide scientific data sets in extensible formats for broad public use. If you have ever worked with scientific data before, you know that it is enormously challenging to work with because the data formats are built for very specific scientific uses, with complex requirements, such as working in multidimensional arrays, and often built using computer programming languages like Fortran that are rarely used outside the science world. Since it’s unlikely long-standing organizations like NASA or CERN will change their practices overnight, ERDDAP is an amazing service to the public, even if…


It’s got to be an 7/10 for me to want it in my life, from now on.

One positive side-effect of social distancing for me has been some modest weight loss based on a few principles.

For one, as the “chef” in the family, I have decided we should move to a meal plan (Hello Fresh, actually). Per unit, it is more expensive, but portion control and fewer impulse buys at the grocery store has meant that we have saved money. We have been not been eating a whole 2 pounds of hamburger, when 1 pound is plenty because I…


Everything is just… sales.

Everything is just… marketing.

Everything can be resolved by… empathy.

Hustle. Emotional intelligence. Branding. Discipline. Attention to detail. Leadership. Community. Productivity. Quality. Design thinking. Rigor. Learning from failure. Continuous learning. Planning. Team building.

It seems like “everything” can be distilled down to quite a few things. Might as well say “42” and move on. As my uncles like to say, “If you have a hammer, everything around you starts looking like a nail.”

That’s not to say hammers are bad. Hammers are great for lots of things, even when they are not nails. Hammers are awesome…


What a privilege it has been to be part of the Technovation Girls program at the University of Waterloo for the past two years! Every time I mention that I am a mentor for the program, I do so with a little bit of guilt because I gain so much from mentoring teams. It does not even seem like work. So far, I have mentored three teams, all of whom finished their projects. I have two more teams this year, and I am very excited to see their amazing ideas turn into cool mobile Apps.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Being a mentor is rewarding…


The Archives Unleashed Cloud Jupyter notebook in action.

Our Archives Unleashed Cloud users have given us consistent feedback: “getting network, domain and text data from Archive-It is nice, but what can we do with it?”

But there is a Catch 22: if you do not know what kind of research is possible with web archives, how can you develop your research questions? This is especially true when the web archive is large. If people cannot develop great research questions, it is hard to engage the data. But asking a research question that the data cannot answer is a waste of time.

From our perspective, this is challenging. We…


In the summer of 2017, a team of graduate student researchers at the University of Waterloo explored various WALK collections and wrote short posts on what they learned from them. Here is the third of three posts.

By Denée Renouf

Which comes first, the question or the answer?

In the process of historical research, one of the main issues that arises is finding the primary sources to answer questions posed of history and historical trends. With the expansion of history into the digital world, this issue hasn’t been solved, but it has been turned on its head; rather than a…


In the summer of 2017, a team of graduate student researchers at the University of Waterloo explored various WALK collections and wrote short posts on what they learned from them. Here is the second of three posts.

by Eric Vero

At first, navigating archived website collections may seem daunting. Many contain a wealth of pages, whereas others hold only a handful. Finding something useful can be difficult. For example, the Heritage Community Foundation (HCF) Alberta Online Encyclopedia contains 84 archived websites on a wide range of topics. …


In the summer of 2017, a team of graduate student researchers at the University of Waterloo explored various WALK collections and wrote short posts on what they learned from them. Here is the first of three posts.

by Sarah McTavish

One of the most substantial developments in the use of web archives for historical research is the ability to perform both close and distance readings of archived web content. As historians, we are well-familiar with close reading — the ability to closely study a primary source, with an eye for the content. However, distant reading can, and often should, be…


Canadians were early adopters of the Internet, a fact that is overshadowed because our neighbours to the south were even more avid. In 1995, a year before the Internet Archive started, as many as 3.5 million Canadians used the Internet, a population about the size of Toronto and greater than the population of British Columbia at the time. This number was enough to be ranked 4th in the world, after the U.S., Germany, and Japan. Today, countries like China, India, Singapore, South Korea, Brazil, Indonesia and Nigeria have increased their use of the Internet, creating a much different Internet than…

Ryan Deschamps

Postdoctoral fellow studying web archives and the digital history of Canada. Also interested in public policy agenda setting.

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