June 2012

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Coders for Libraries, code{4}lib looks really interesting! 


  • Wednesday June 13th, 5pm


  • The Exchange Pub, 50 Rideau Street (entrance inside the Rideau Centre).  The reservation is under “Warren / code4lib” and the reserved room is downstairs.


  1. recap of the code4lib North unconference in Windsor
  2. lightning talks (about 5 minutes each).
  3. social gathering


  • Developers from the Ottawa Public Library will give a preview of the API to their BiblioCommons catalogue. The API will be
    publicly available this fall.
  • William Wueppelmann will talk about Canadiana.org and how they host and manage their huge digital collection and efforts to achieve certification as a Trusted Digital Repository (TDR) (i.e. a digital archive).
  • Mary Beth Baker will talk about the local tech scene in Ottawa and the potential for collaboration.

Anyone who wants to demo what they’re working on or talk about something  related to libraries and technology is encouraged to take the floor. An HDTV with an HDMI input is available

Please see the code4lib North wiki page for the most up-to-date information about this meetup.

If possible, please send an RSVP to warren.layton@gmail.com if you wish to attend and/or present a lightning talk.

See you at the meetup!

I just successfully defended my PhD dissertation in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Carleton University.  It provided me with tremendous insight into the historical evolution of data classification systems, how these influence society, construct spaces and in turn are shaped by and shape our geographical imaginations.  By examining classifications it is almost inevitable that one must also look into data infrastructures which normalize so many of our practices (e.g., GoogleMaps, geospatial data infrastructures).

I look forward to being away from this material for a little while, but I will most definitely come back to it, as I think it has some important implications for open data.  Currently Canada’s geographical imaginations, from a data perspective, are primarily governmental, however, with the advent of open data, shared infrastructures, interoperability, open specifications, open source and demands for greater government transparency, I believe, we will see the co-construction of a new imagined/modeled Canada.

In the grand scheme of things, Open data and open government are pretty new movements, but if the momentum continues, and if we become better deliberators and increasingly numerate, I think we will begin to see a real citizen/government evidence based decision making culture.  And I really look forward to that.

Until then, below is my abstract and the defence presentation if you care to read/look at it.  I am not entirely sure what is next, but I do have the good fortune  of being a post doctoral fellow at the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC) working on the SSHRC Partnership Project entitled : Mapping the Legal and Policy Boundaries of Digital Cartography with Centre for Law Technology and Society, Natural Resources Canada and the great folks at the Canadian Internet Public Policy Internet Clinic (CIPPIC).  I will also be doing some work on the preservation of scientific data, even if we do have have a functional national archive.


The central argument of this dissertation is that Canadian reality is conditioned by government data and their related infrastructures.  Specifically, that Canadian geographical imaginations are strongly influenced by the Atlas of Canada and the Census of Canada.  Both are long standing government institutions that inform government decision-making, and are normally considered to be objective and politically neutral.  It is argued that they may also not be entirely politically neutral even though they may not be influenced by partisan politics, because social, technical and scientific institutions nuance objectivity.  These institutions or infrastructures recede into the background of government operations, and although invisible, they shape how Canadian geography and society are imagined.  Such geographical imaginations, it is argued, are important because they have real material and social effects.  In particular, this dissertation empirically examines how the Atlas of Canada and the Census of Canada, as knowledge formation objects and as government representations, affect social and material reality and also normalize subjects.  It is also demonstrated that the Ian Hacking dynamic Looping Effect framework of ‘Making Up People’ is not only useful to the human sciences, but is also an effective methodology that geographers can adapt and apply to the study of ‘Making Up Spaces’ and geographical imaginations.  His framework was adapted to the study of the six editions of the Atlas of Canada and the Census of Canada between 1871 and 2011.  Furthermore, it is shown that the framework also helps structure the critical examination of discourse, in this case, Foucauldian gouvernementalité and the biopower of socio-techno-political systems such as a national atlas and census, which are inextricably embedded in a social, technical and scientific milieu.  As objects they both reflect the dominant value system of their society and through daily actions, support the dominance of this value system.  While it is people who produce these objects, the infrastructures that operate in the background have technological momentum that also influence actions.  Based on the work of Bruno Latour, the Atlas and the Canadian census are proven to be inscriptions that are immutable and mobile, and as such, become actors in other settings.  Therefore, the Atlas of Canada and the Census of Canada shape and are shaped by geographical imaginations.

The Creative Law Society and CIPPIC hosted a Creative Commons Salon on the topic of Open Data.  I was invited to represent the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre and speak about research data.


Most university based research is publicly funded and researchers use government data in their work, the data derived from the research of others, and also produce data as part of the research process.  The Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC) at Carleton University does this and also adheres to the principle that publicly funded research results should be created in such a way that they can be re-disseminated back to the public.  I will therefore discuss how the GCRC collaboratively collects, uses, maps and re-disseminates its data and will highlight some of the open data issues it encounters while doing so.  Also, it will be argued that even though the GCRC adheres to access principles, a lack of a national digital data archive and data preservation and management support from granting councils impedes the GCRC and others from sharing their data more broadly while open data strategies have yet to take research data into consideration.  Most notably, Canada does not have a research data archive, preservation policy nor a network of university based data repositories.

I gave a similar talk on March 21s, 2012 the same week at Ottawa University, however the focus in that case was librarians in becoming and faculty at the School of Information Studies.  That presentation is here.


CIPPIC has a Summer Internship Program for law students with a lecture series. Once again this years I joined Teressa Scassa in a lunch 2 hour seminar on the topic of :Data, Maps, Location and Law. Teressa spoke about volunteered geographic information (VGI) and I gave the students an overview of data and maps focusing on topics such as data sources, data uses, different kinds of maps, how maps tell stories, and standards, technology, policy and legal interoperability.

Links in notes pages:

Global Map:

  • ISCGM: http://www.iscgm.org/cgi-bin/fswiki/wiki.cgi
  • Data Use Agreement: http://www.iscgm.org/agreement.html
  • GCRC & Global Map: https://gcrc.carleton.ca/confluence/display/GCRCWEB/Global+Map

Forest Maps:

  • 1st – Forests http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/archives/1stedition/environment/ecology/page8
  • 2nd – Limits of the Forest http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/archives/2ndedition/environment/ecology/page19_20
  • 3rd – Forest Regions http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/archives/3rdedition/environment/ecology/039
  • 4th – Vegetation Regions http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/archives/4thedition/environment/ecology/045_46
  • 5th – Vegetation Cover http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/archives/5thedition/environment/ecology/mcr4182
  • 6th – Forested Ecozones http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/environment/forest/forestcanada/forestedecozones

Communication Infrastructure Maps:

  • 1st – Telephone Eastern http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/archives/1stedition/economic/transportationandcommunications/page14
  • 2nd – Telegraphs – Ontario and Quebec [circa 1915] http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/archives/2ndedition/economic/transportationandcommunications/page33_34
  • 3rd – Television & Radio http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/archives/3rdedition/economic/transportationandcommunications/091
  • 4th – Communications, 1967 – Eastern Canada http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/archives/4thedition/economic/transportationandcommunications/227_228
  • 5th – Telecommunications Systems, 1984 http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/archives/5thedition/economic/transportationandcommunications/mcr4105

I heart librarians!
Canadian Library Association Annual Conference presentation in Ottawa, June 1, 2012.

Cities and data producers are quickly embracing Open Data, albeit unevenly. The Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) has been a pioneer in broadening access to data for nearly two decades. This session will examine the relevance of Data Liberation in terms of Open Data and explore how librarians can step up to the plate to make Open Data/Open Government as successful as DLI.

– Wendy Watkins, Data Librarian, Carleton University (wendy_watkins@carleton.ca)
– Ernie Boyko, Adjunct Data Librarian, Carleton University (boykern@yahoo.com)
– Tracey P. Lauriault, Post Doctoral Fellow, Carleton University (tlauriau@gmail.com)
– Margaret Haines, University Librarian, Carleton University (http://www.library.carleton.ca/)