Today marks the start of something new and exciting: interactive maps of campus and other Cornell-related sites.
Using Google’s maps API, we now offer a dynamic view of the Cornell campus and its environs, as well as off-campus locations such as Geneva, New York City, Qatar, and Arecibo. In addition to the usual Google maps features such as zooming, panning, alternative views, and integrated driving directions, the new maps offer various overlays for quickly locating dining halls, cafes, libraries, bus stops, public parking, etc.
Furthermore, a search box and location list allow multiple ways to find specific buildings, features, offices, departments, and other points of interest. Enter specific building names, organization names, or concepts such as “movies” to learn where on campus they can be found. When selecting a given building, the map not only shifts and zooms to center a location in context, but also provides a text bubble showing (and linking) what departments or other organizations are found there (where relevant). For campus sites, a choice of driving directions is provided to the exact location, to the nearest metered parking, or to the nearest information booth.
For anyone who might want to show people a particular location, the new maps page accepts a URL parameter, which makes it possible to link a building’s name in a web page and have a result show an exact location on campus. To link a location, simply append “?loc=” and the name of the destination to the map’s URL. When linking in, the map will center on the building and fetch a list of organizational units found within it. In the near future it will be possible to specify other parameters such as map zoom and visible overlays. Full specifications will be published and linked at a later time.
The new maps will remain officially in beta mode while their effectiveness is analyzed, so changes may be made without warning. But we believe that their added functionality merits public access even if they’re not yet perfect. We appreciate comments on all aspects of the new maps and look forward to making them as useful as possible.
See the new maps at http://www.cornell.edu/maps/interactive.cfm and enjoy!
CIT Integrated Web Services for the Office of Web Communications
PS. A preview of the new campus virtual tour can be seen by clicking on the Virtual Tour Nodes overlay option. QuickTime will be needed to view these full-screen, high-resolution immersive panoramas.
Lately, there has been a strange convergence in my work life. I find myself going to a series of three standing meetings. This, in and of itself, is not at all strange. The longer I work for Cornell, the more meetings I seem to attend. (Back in 1993, my meeting count per week averaged ZERO. Now it’s typically in the lower double-digits.)
But, these meetings are oddly similar to one another.
One to talk about re-vamping internal communications at Cornell through some sort of revisions/re-working of CUInfo.
One to talk about Uportal as a tool and assess whether or not it is the BEST tool for Cornell.
And one to talk about building community at Cornell through the use of internal communications.
Despite the fact that these meetings are in different locations and contain a small cast of rotating players, I find myself starting to realize that I’m having the same conversation three times a week. Or, rather, pieces of the same conversation. Because, while there is an eerie sort of synergy going on with this, they’re not quite all the same meeting.
Still. Close enough for government work.
So lots of smart people are gathering and talking (and talking)(and talking) about internal communications at Cornell and I’m wondering what Cornellians think about the issue.
What are YOUR internal communications needs, anyway?
Here are some questions to get you thinking:
Do you want to be able to talk to other Cornellians (and by “Cornellians”, I mean other people with connections to Cornell, be they staff or students, or faculty–ignoring Alumni, for the moment) about things? [By "talk to", I mean something along the lines of community building--whether that comes in the form of a website, some sort of "social networking tool", or a series of online bulletin boards on given topics (Ezra's List?)....or something else entirely. Think...casual.]
Do you want information from ThePowersThatBe (translation: Senior Administration) about things like the Campaign, the items currently found in Safety Zone on CUInfo, HR matters, etc?
Do you want ONE place to do your business (the things you have to use Uportal for) AND your pleasure AND get your words from on high? Or is it best to separate these sort of things?
Chew, ruminate, digest, and get back to me?
Just…no regurgitation, please.
- The Lab of Ornithology is entering a redesign for the site and has started a blog to chronicle the process.
- we have recently re-vamped the Student Life, Alumni, and Outreach sections of cornell.edu with new photos and features. Carrie tells me that the President’s section is on deck.
- We also added a prominent link to the Campaign down in the middle column of the home page. Any thoughts?
- Somewhere in the not-too-diatant past, the Cornell Facebook Page crested 1000 fans, which is only noteworthy because I remember when we had five, three of which worked in my office.
I know. I know.
I have no excuses. Well, no good ones, anyway.
Instead, I offer some brief updates about what’s been going on lately.
Events Calendar Upgrade
I wish I had better news, but the truth of it is that the project is delayed. As you may recall, our timeline initially had a September launch date.
There have been some issues with the server environment necessary for the latest release of Bedework and it’s going to take some time to get them resolved. We’re hoping to go live in January instead (fingers crossed, please).
Meanwhile, Ken and Zac have been working on skinning the public interface to be a nearly exact replica of the current calendar on cornell.edu. It’s pretty darn impressive, if I do say so myself.
We actually have a meeting this afternoon to discuss the administrative interface, which has been re-skinned and re-worked a little from that with which the current calendar users are familiar. All for the better, the easier, the more streamlined, I promise.
Life on the Hill Blogs
Here, we have good news! We finished hiring for the student blogging project last month and I’m pleased to say that there are two major firsts:
1. For the first time since we launched in 2006, we will have all of the undergraduate colleges represented.
2. And, for the first time ever, we will have a Freshman blogging from the moment she lands on campus.
Next year, there will be nine bloggers, total (up one from this year, which was up two from the pilot year of the program). I have been calling it “The Year of the Menfolk” because (another first, I suppose) we skew decidedly male in our demographic–six to three, in fact. Let’s hear it for the boys!
Zac is in the middle of a redesign for the Life on the Hill page on cornell.edu and early comps are looking great. Expect something fun and different from anything we’ve done before.
And I have spent a goodly portion of my recent days assiting one of the students in getting his blog set up early so he can jet off to a summer dig in Tuscany without worry. Jealousy does not even begin to descrivbe my feelings on this matter.
How strong are your powers of observation?
Notice anything different about the homepage, lately?
No? Go on, take a look. We’ll wait. [HINT: Scroll down. Way down.]
Look at that. The “Any person…any study” quote that used to be in the grey bar under the pano images has been not only moved, but expanded to it’s full glory.
Currently, it’s linked to the page for the University Mission Statement, but we are gathering content for a new page about the quote itself–both history and intent. You can expect that to launch sometime over the summer and I will, of course, make mention of it here.
Any blog…any tagline,
Earlier this semester, we had a CU Web Forum Meeting about Social Networking (scroll down to February) and how people were experimenting around campus. One of the many things that came out of it was a request from my boss, Diane, for me to draft a position statement about Facebook.
Another thing to come out of it was a (short) list of what people are doing–please check that out and add your own links if you’re not already listed. Anyone with a Cornell net-id should be able to edit the page.
Anyway. The idea behind this was not to create a policy or to try to force people to use Facebook in any given manner. Rather, we wanted something that we could (possibly) pass around at the senior administration level–a brief cheat sheet about what Facebook is good at, what it’s not, and how Cornell might consider using the application as a communications tool.
I cannot even begin to count how many drafts of this thing I have written, but a relatively “final” version is linked below.
Facebook Position Statement MS Word file [50k]
I welcome any and all feedback you might have to offer.
PS. I’m heading out of town for three days, so any delay you might experience re: return of comments, etc is not deliberate.
As you may recall, my last post made passing reference to the launch of Safety Zone on CUInfo.
Since then, we’ve had the chance to gather some (not a lot) of feedback from the community. But, you know me. I’m all about the feedback. And it does say “Join the conversation!” up there at the top…
So, here’s a screen shot of the Safety Zone (click to enlarge).
Or, if you like, you can go directly to CUInfo and look at the most current listing. Totally up to you.As mentioned before, the purpose of this feature is to both point to important announcements about safety-related events and provide links to other safety resources on the web at Cornell.
The question is, is it working?
Several folks have wondered aloud about whether or not having such information so prominently displayed on a regular basis will dilute the message. Others have gone so far as to complain that adding it to the upper part of the page and moving the directory links to the bottom does them a real disservice in the realm of functionality.
Fact of the matter is that, in today’s climate of potential shooters on campus, possible terrorists lurking around every corner and–oh yes, I’m really going there–irresponsible people whose lack of sexual savvy leads to syphilis outbreaks on campus, we need to have a place to communicate emergency and safety related information.
Here are the sort of things you can expect to see in this area:
- Health alerts
- Travel Advisories/Road closures
- Campus Outages (power, water)
- Emergency alerts
- Crime alerts
And here are some questions for you to chew on–because I know it’s always easier to start with something to jump from.
- Do road closures belong in the Safety Zone?
- Is SZ something that you want to see all the time, whether or not there is something going on?
- What about those links to safety resources? Good? Bad? Indifferent?
- How long should something stay up on SZ?
- Should there be an archive of old postings?
Drop us a comment with your answers to the above or your thoughts on the SZ in general?
Remember: Danger never takes a vacation!
(and, apparently, neither does syphilis)
Okay. I admit it. I have been doing a piss-poor job at blogging, lately.
There are lots of excuses, but none of them are really any good so let’s just skip all that and move right to the content part of today’s program.
Some Things of Note from the OWC:
- Bonnie, intrepid and dutiful soul that she is, has managed to input all of the right data tags for the weather icons, which means that we now have pretty pictures on the weather page once more.These went live on Tuesday and the process involved hand-coding more than 300 tags to match the National Weather Service’s taxonomy for weather conditions. You should all shower Bonnie with appreciation and thanks.
Get it? Shower her? Okay, fine. Moving on.
- Bonnie (with design help from Zac) has also just launched a new feature on CuInfo called Safety Zone. This is part of our initiative around emergency communications and the area is designed to both point to important announcements about safety related events and provide links to other safety-related resources on the web at Cornell. As always, we welcome your input and thoughts.
- Yesterday morning, we launched a new site for the Land Grant section of cornell.edu. It looks rather similar to the uninitiated eye, so let me point out some of the highlights for you:
- This is the first section of cornell.edu to be executed in CommonSpot, so it is both our test case for proof of concept AND the first time that content will be able to be updated directly by a departmental curator (as opposed to having to be processed by someone at the OWC).
- It features Flash in a way that has never been used before on the site in the Interactive Map of New York State.
This launch was a long-time in the making!
- And, speaking of launches that were a long time in the making…the Outreach Portal is also live as of this morning!
And Here’s What I’ve Been Doing Instead of Blogging
Okay. So there was that one trip to doversaddlery.com to order new breeches and clipper blades for the upcoming horse show season. And maybe there was also a Google search or two about Benjamin Disraeli. But you can’t prove I wasn’t on a break while surfing.
Mostly, though, I have been up to my eyeballs in applications for next year’s student bloggers on Life on the Hill.
This is our third year of blogging and, for the first time, we opened up our application process to anyone within the undergraduate student body. This involved advertising both on campus (via flyers in buildings and email invitations to targeted groups) and on Facebook (which was surprisingly easy and cheap, but perhaps also rather ineffectual). Deadline was Monday afternoon and I received a total of 33 applications–about three times as many as is typical.
So I have literally spent the past three days (8 hours a day–no kidding) with a red pen in my hand marking up the series of essay questions we put forth to applicants. From my desk, the top candidates will move on to the lightening round, wherein they will be read and ranked by both our current bloggers and Carrie and Bonnie. Then, we have pizza and hash it all out until we have agreed on the lucky winners.
Everyone else gets a ceramic Dalmation and a box of Rice-a-Roni (the San Francisco treat).
Two entries into the University Events Calendar project and I am already having trouble coming up with good quotes for my post titles. This does not bode well for yours truly. (The above, by the by, can be attributed to Charles Schultz.)
The calendar project, I’m pleased to note, proceeds apace. We had our official kick-off meeting last week and things are looking pretty good.
Here are some dates that are probably of interest:
All dates are 2008.
Project kickoff: March 13-DONE!
- Design Complete: End of April
- Migrate one pilot user to new calendar: End of May
- System go-live: Mid July
- Project Complete: September
Our pilot users are: CALS, Mann Library, the College of Engineering, and Campus Information and Visitor Relations (who own the calendar in conjunction with the OWC).
So, where are we now?
Well, right now, Zac and Ken are busy working on skinning the Bedework interface to look like our current events calendar. They’re really, really close (I hope to have some screen shots, soon) and are just trying to work through some bugs.
Currently, the admin interface is not skinned at all, but that’s certainly also on the list of to-dos.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in CIT, a bunch of smart folks are figuring out the intricacies of Bedework itself. Specifically, we have questions about how what they call categories relates to what we call categories on the existing calendar. I also have something in my notes about “calendar structure”, but I confess that I am so confused by that particular aspect of this project that I couldn’t even begin to explain it to someone else. Not yet, anyway.
Right. So this is a big change to campus status-quo. What are your questions?
I promise not to yank the football away,
Here’s what’s going on in and around cornell.edu:
- The Panos you all had a sneak peek at a couple of weeks ago went live this morning!
- Speaking of panos…did you catch the one for our basketball victory? Another “Just In Time” pano is planned for Dragon Day next week.
- CornellCast has launched the In The Classroom feature and is currently showing lectures from Comm 285 (Communication in Life Sciences) and CS 211 (Intermediate Java Programming). Carrie tells me that “Execution-wise, it needs some work”, but I am a big fan of the random things that happen in each video. Sometimes, classes ARE interrupted by frat boys bearing gifts. Though, alas, never for yours truly.
- You can also now email your favorite CornellCast videos to your friends and family. Just in time for the Provost’s address this afternoon!
- This isn’t strictly related to cornell.edu, but the Press Office has just implemented an RSS Feed for their CU In the News feature. Eventually, you can expect to see this feed pulled into places like the Trustees’ site, the Diversity bridge page, the Social Sciences bridge, and others on cornell.edu. We’re waiting for some tweaks on the tagging first.
- Oh, and while we’re on the topic of bridge pages…the Alumni, Outreach, and New York City pages are all in various states of revision. Stay tuned for announcements when they launch.
Other Hot Topics Include:
Emergency Communications We are neck deep in the process of figuring out a plan (and work-flow) for how information about emergencies (everything from weather to pandemic illness to–god forbid–life threatening situations on campus) will be communicated through cornell.edu and other channels. I hope to have more on this to share with you all soon–once things are finalized.
Student Blogging Project I am thrilled to report that my own personal piece of cornell.edu (the Life On the Hill student blogs) is about to expand yet again. We were given permission to open up our applicant pool to include the entire undergraduate student body for the 2008-2009 school year. Look for advertising and information on how to apply to start showing up next week. Please do pass the word along to any students you think might be interested.
A Brief History Lesson
First, the earth cooled. Then, Joel Seligman (former director of Campus Information and Visitor Relations), Chris Manly (former Nexus of All Things Cornell (TM)) and myself (former youngster) sat down in the Day Hall board room and hammered out a requirements document for the very first version of the on-line University Events Calendar.
Well. That’s not exactly true. The very first online version was a Filemaker database that had web functionality (circa 1998), but it was only visible to those intrepid folks who man the phones in Day Hall. And the online-edness (that is so a word!) was an after thought. The primary functionality of said database was to print out pages of daily events on campus and post them on the Information Desk in the Day Hall lobby so that visitors might know that at 11:15 there was a brown bag lecture on the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in room 128 Rockefeller.
In all the days that I tirelessly entered events into that database, printed them, framed them, and set them on the Desk, I can honestly say that Joel was the only person I ever saw actually look at them.
Fast-forward about a decade and the University Events Calendar sees, on average, 18,000 visits per month. Joel was a visionary, you see. There should totally be a statue of him on the Arts Quad (for he is also largely responsible for the fact that there is a Cornell Home Page (as opposed to just CUInfo) as well). Plus? He’s really tall and well-dressed and would make an excellent statue.
I digress. Sorry.
And Now For the Modern Day
Earlier this week, a bunch of us sat down in a conference room in the CCC with the bones of a requirements document for the newest incarnation of the Events Calendar. The OWC and IWS team (as well as some folks from Engineering and Mann Library) has been working with IS (Information Systems) to implement an installation of Bedework to replace the current–and ailing–calendar.
People, I’m not even going to try to spin this. This project is going to be complicated. Most of that meeting was spent discussing philosophical issues about coding practices. Bedework, you see, is Open Source, which means that we are free to modify it as we see fit (yay!). But the more modifications we make to suit our own purposes, the more forks we drive into the code (boo!)–moving us away from the standard as developed by the good folks at RPI and CalDev and making updates a potential nightmare (boo again!).
And there are features that we’d like that aren’t quite there yet in Bedework. Now, we could make them work with some slick coding in XSLT and XML and other brands of Alphabet Soup (yay!), but this presents problems for units on campus who want to adopt the installation of Bedework as their departmental calendar (boo!).
So, where does this leave us? In a little bit of Limbo, frankly. IWS programmers are busy looking at the code and comparing it to the reqs doc to see how (or if) we can make all the lights green with regard to needed functionality. IS is doing the same on their end and is also evaluating Bedework for use campus-wide as a calendaring service. Mann Library and Engineering will begin to poke around in the interface and evaluate it in terms of functionality and customization. Joel is in Boston, last I heard.
All I can say is that it’s a good thing there were donuts at this meeting.
Here are a Few Random Items of Note
- It’s come to my attention that the email subscription to this blog was broken and throwing up errors. I have fixed this. Subscribe! Subscribe!
- If you don’t already know about BlogHighEd, you should check it out. Brad Ward (Butler U) and Matt Herzberger (Texas A&M) are aggregating the best of higher ed blogging for your reading pleasure.
- You should also check out the 1st Annual edustyle Higher-ed Web Awards and nominate any sites that you think are outstanding at Cornell.
A: A Leap Year!
Lisakeep looking »