- 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.
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).
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 Whole Lotta Limbo
- After a long evaluation and consensus-building project, Bedework has been chosen as the infrastructure for the new university calendar. I’ve only just started poking around in it, so I don’t really have much to say just yet. Look for a Summer implementation in one form or another. Many, many details to follow.
- Undergraduate Admissions is set to begin work on a site for newly accepted students and has enlisted the help of the OWC to get the ball rolling. Details to follow on that, too.
Our enemies are innovative and resourceful. So are we.
Okay, so maybe President Bush was talking about terrorists when he said that, but web folks have enemies, too. Time. Time is a big one. Competing priorities is another. Budget, of course. Process, too.
We here at cornell.edu are trying to wage a guerilla campaign against all of the above, but we need some help.
What sort of innovative things would you like to see in adjunct to the site? Weather widgets? Photo blogs? A rousing game of “Where’s Ezra?” in the Pano-space?
Drop some comments and share your wildest wishes, please? Sky’s the limit in this phase. Show me what you’ve got.
It used to be that the big images on the Cornell Home Page were called “campaign images”–the idea being that the space would be used in organized ways to further any of several specific goals. Examples of this are (but are not limited to): the series of images we run every year in conjunction with both orientation and commencement, the sets of images of graduating seniors that run along side the series of features the Chronicle does on students of merit, Dragon Day images, Slope Day images…you get the picture, right? (No pun intended.)
I liked calling them “campaign images”. It made me feel like we were always two steps away from a balloon drop and an acceptance speech and, let me tell you, that’s about as involved with politics as I ever want to be. But then some folks over in Alumni Affairs decided that they needed to raise four billion dollars and we had to change it to “pano space” instead.
The nomenclature may lack pizzaz, but the images are still a vital part of the success of cornell.edu.
Here’s the latest on the Pano Space:
- Carrie and Zac tell me that there are no less than six new panos in the works right now. I’m not sure of subject matter, but I will certainly share as soon as I know.
- There is an ongoing discussion on the merits and drawbacks of bringing video to the space and we would love to hear your opinions on both concept and potential subject matter. That comment link is not down there for my health, people. Talk to me.
- We’re also in a semi-constant state of mild disagreement about where the pano space links to.What? you say. The pano space links somewhere?Indeed, it does. Many of them link to the Mission Page on cornell.edu, but Carrie has also been known to point them to sites appropriate to the subject of the photo.
And, again, I point you to that “Leave a Comment” link below. Because we would also like to know your thoughts on the matter. Do you care where they link to? Would it help or merely annoy if there were something on the photo to indicate that it is a link?
- And, finally, we’re considering having a contest for the pano space. The University of Central Florida does this with their equivalent of the panos and we think it might be fun to showcase photos and art produced by Cornellians of all flavors. And, really now–that comments link is your friend. Please do share your thoughts.
And here is some random stuff to round things out:
- A company called YOUniversity has made a video about Cornell that is geared toward prospective students. You can find it online at www.youniversity.tv/cornell.html. Requires Flash. And Advil if you are over the age of, say, 19.
- CornellCast is entering a redesign phase to add more features. More on that later, I promise.
- We are about to embark on early stages of implementation of a new university events calendar using Bedework on the back end. More on that later, too.
Better a Panoply than a Panopticon I Always Say,
We got some good comments and questions on the last post about the campus mapping project. (Thank you!) Here are some answers.
- do we have better satellite imagery?
- do the GIS folks at Mann Library have actual imagery that could be layered with this data?
- Also, I think 2D is one dimension short, how about one more for the road?
The answers to numbers one and two are a very hearty “I don’t know.” These questions came up in the 12/12 Forum meetting in the context of using Google Maps satellite images in conjunction with our data and the answer was that there is not sufficient imagery to cover our area in detail.
Indeed, I just went to Google Maps and looked for “Cornell University Ithaca” and there appears to be NO imagery at all.
Live Search Maps has decent imagery of campus, but not great imagery.
Frank agreed that it would be great to have satellite shots integrated with the map, but we really do seem to be lacking the quality of image that would make it worthwhile.
The answer to number three is…um…huh? Could you be a little more specific about what you want to see in 3D? Virtual renderings? Something similar to what you can do with spaces in Second Life? Panoramas? Movies? (Both of those last two are not only possible, but already in place in rough format.)
I don’t see any mention of searching by building name, but I presume this will be a feature. It would be very nice to search by department or office name, too. For example, I look in the campus directory and find the office I need to visit is at Ste 400 Seneca Place On The Commons. Can I look that up? (I realize it’s off campus, but lots of places are, and more will be.
Yes, searching by building name is an option. My bad for not mentioning it. It’s actually how I made the graphics from the previous post, as I find the zoom feature a little clunky at the moment. You can also search by building code (that’s what those four-digit numbers are next to the names on the screen shots are) if you know what they happen to be. Frank was rattling them off the top of his head at the meeting. Meanwhile, I have been at Cornell since Moses was a pup and had no clue that we even HAD numerical designations for each building.
I don’t imagine that searching by department is out of the realm of possibility. Even if that data is not in Frank’s massive database right now, I think it could probably be added without too much fuss.
As for whether or not a given location is “off campus” or not…well…let’s just say that Frank indicated that he considers all of Tompkins County “campus” and leave it at that. So, sure. In theory, it could find the Alumni Offices downtown for you.
And Michael suggested:
Please make the software PDA and Smart Phone compatible.
Could it display bus routes? We currently are always printing out maps to give people directions so a nice print friendly view is essential especially if we could put directions, like a digital highlighter.
In theory, it can. And when I say “theory”, I mean that all that is necessary to make this happen is for the bus route data to be added.
I love the concept of a digital highlighter. So much so, in fact, that it was on my own wish-list for this project. That would be a real service to campus visitors.
In addition, if we are totally replacing the printed version we will need a way to print high quality ones for brochures.
I am told that the Office of Publications and Marketing (who are responsible for the printed maps we all know and love) are busily working with printers to make it possible to get high-quality versions of the new map. Something to do with color separations. Once this is all sorted out, the printed maps will be generated from the new source in a similar manner to how they are now. If you need a high-quality map for a brochure, you would go to OPM–the same as you (presumably) do now.
As a reminder, the print function from the web version of these maps is still somewhat lacking in that users will have to navigate through their browser to show the portion they wish to print and then use the browser’s print functionality to make it happen. This is something that Frank and his crew are working on.
What about construction is it going to be able to change to show campus construction barriers? Or road closings and detours so when we give directions they are accurate for those of us who don’t travel to other parts of campus.
This also came up during the 12/12 Forum meeting and the answer is the same as many of the above…that is, it’s totally do-able, man. It’s just a matter of getting that data into the database.
One of the challenges we’re going to face with this project is scope. As you can see from my answers above, just about anything is possible with the right application of data and dollars. In terms of what’s on the map that gets hosted on cornell.edu, we’ll have to gather all the requirements and wish-lists and compost them down into a manageable pile.
The good news is that we don’t have to be the exclusive host for this map. It’s perfectly reasonable for the Hotel School to have it’s own version that has features suited to their needs. And Transportation can have a version with the bus routes. And someone else can have a version that shows the location of every single plaque, dedicated bench, and memorial tree on campus. (You laugh, but I know people who would love that.)
I’m still holding out for tracking the parking folks.
Happy Holidays, everyone. See you in 2008!
I like maps. In college, I had a fold-out map of the Adirondack Park tacked to my dorm room wall and I would mark off routes I’d driven and places my roommate and I visited in my father’s Oldsmobile. By the end of my time in the North Country, it was practically neon with all the highlighter.
How, after all, can you know who you are if you don’t know where you are?
So I was excited about Wednesday’s Web Forum Meeting where Frank Popowitch from Campus Planning demonstrated what he hopes will be the new campus mapping system. Based on GIS data, the new maps are served up through a vendor application called ArcInfo and they’re seriously cool–even if you’re not a cartography geek.
Here’s a screen shot of the basic campus map in ArcInfo:
You will no doubt notice the green dots and the orange lines. These are part of a virtual campus tour that Frank and his shop are proposing be worked into the online version of the campus map that would be (eventually) available from cornell.edu/maps. The green dots represent 360 degree pano images of locations and the red lines mark QuickTime video of driving tours.
Currently, both the panoramas and the videos are content produced by Frank’s shop that is live only to those who have access to the test server this is all living on–but it’s certainly proof of concept.
Here’s another shot of a detail on the map. In this case, it’s the Ag Quad and parts of Eastern Campus (picked at random by yours truly):
Note the window on the left that is labeled “Map Contents”. In this instance, I had all of the layers turned on, so we can see everything from bike rack locations to Accessible entrances, to Bus Stops. All of those boxes are check-able (or not) so you can customize a map to your own liking. This is also just a very small sample of the data Frank has at his disposal, so the sky is kind of the limit when it comes to what you might want to see on your map.
Bus Routes? Totally do-able. Quickest way from Kite Hill to MVR? Also possible.
My suggestion of using the chips in our staff ids to track parking agents in real time was met with laughter, but I’m reasonably sure it’s possible to know when you’re about to get a ticket. We totally have the technology.
Here’s a zoom-in on the Ag Quad itself:
[you can click all you want; it's not going to get bigger]
That red line between Roberts and Mann Library is me using the measuring tool to determine how far away from one another they are. (Answer: 731.17 feet) You can also use that tool to mark routes on campus and figure out the total distance you would cover as you move from building to building throughout the day. (Ex: Roberts to Day Hall to Snee, to Riley Rob and back.)
So. Now that you’ve seen some pretty pictures, let’s talk details.
Frank (and the OWC) is looking for any and all feedback that you might have to offer on the project. Unfortunately, the test servers are not robust enough to open it up to campus actually poking around on the new maps. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tell us what you’d like them to be able to do or what you’d like to see re: interface functionality.
Here’s my Wish List:
- “Print This Page” or “Print My Map” feature. Right now, you can print the maps, but you have to use your browser’s print functionality to do it. It would be great if there were a button that exported your map to a readable size when printed on standard paper.
- “Save My Map” Recognizing that this would require storage space out the proverbial wah-zoo, I still think it would be nice if users could save layers from visit to visit. This might also come in handy if you are holding an event on campus or just want to share some of your favorite spots with friends or family who are coming to town. When I worked for Campus Information, we did it with highlighters on the printed versions–it would be great to send someone a URL instead. Or, better yet, print them a custom map marked with the places they need to go while on campus for an admissions visit.
- A better user interface. This one is very clunky to navigate around in and not very intuitive. If such a system were put in place on cornell.edu (or elsewhere on campus sites), some work should be done to make it easier to use.
What are your fondest wishes for a new campus map?
If you are a visitor, an alum, or someone who has a more casual relationship with Cornell, please leave your feedback in comments to this post. Typically, comments close on a post 7 days after it goes live, but I will set this one to remain open through the end of December.
If you’re part of the web developer community here on campus, please take a hop over to the CU Knowledgebase and use the page we’ve set up over there to list your requirements both user-based and technology related. You will need to log-in to Confluence (use Cornell Single Sign On) to edit the page. I’ve included a copy of my list from above as well as some of the technical aspects (those that I actually understand) on that page. Please feel free to add to the specs if you know more than I do–I’m sure there are plenty of you who do.
If you have specific questions about the mapping system, drop me an email and I’ll pass them along to Frank and his crew.
You’re on your own for the folding,
If I were the superstitious sort, I would be wondering whether or not my last entry about the weather stuff is behind the sudden arrival of Winter to Ithaca.
It’s a full twenty-degrees warmer in Minsk right now.
Totally my bad.
Here are a few things for your consideration:
- The Intercampus Initiatives site was recently launched and is linked to from the Collaborative Culture section of cornell.edu.
You will probably notice that it has the cornell.edu grey nav bar. I assure you, this was intentional.
We have also launched two new wiki-based sites aimed at campus web developers.
- The Web Forum site is used to announce topics for our monthly meetings and share information and materials from those meetings.
- The Cornell Web Knowledgebase is a developing set of resources for those who work in the web at Cornell. I urge you all to go take a poke around in there and add/edit things as you see fit. This project will only work if the community gets behind it.
Both of the above sites should be viewable to anyone in the world, but you will need a Cornell net-id to edit or add content.
And, speaking of WIKIs…
There are at least three external WIKIs about Cornell. (Drop me a line or comment if you know of others?) None of these are officially sponsored, but all should be editable by anyone who signs up for an account.
- Cornell Wiki (login required to see content–account is free)
- CUWiki (No login needed to see content–account needed to edit pages)
- Cornell on Wikipedia (Yes, I am aware that they are using/misusing the old logo. There is a difference between omniscience and omnipotence.)
And, finally, I’d like to remind you all (but mostly Zac) about the nifty Email Notification Plugin that allows you to sign up for, well, email notification of updates to this blog. Look to the right. There it is nestled between LINKS and ARCHIVE. Just type in your email address (Zac) and hit the button. You can, of course, also subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed. But then you have to remember to check it (Zac).
I’m not even kidding about Minsk,
PS. We’ve changed our URL to viewsource.web.cornell.edu. The old one will still work, but wouldn’t you rather be hip to the times and update your bookmarks to the new?