Information as a Key to Democracy

Stone figures holding a tablet

Access to government information is one of the key elements of a thriving democracy. And it’s the government’s responsibility to be the stewards of that information.

One aspect of governments’ stewardship is defining the scope of the information. To illustrate, if the scope is everything produced by government, does it include voter cards, power bill inserts, and tourism brochures? This sounds a bit like the indexer’s perennial question, “Is it indexable?”

Another aspect of government’s stewardship is making the information accessible…especially when it comes to those dense reports. Clearly, the solution is indexes. And because governments are always producing reports, the opportunities for indexers who do this kind of work is probably endless.

Thanks to Max McMaster, you can learn all about indexing government reports and the specific skills that are needed when you come to the conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland June 12-13.

Register here on the conference page.

Newfoundland: What to see, do and read

Newfoundland dog stamp

The conference in Newfoundland is just 15 weeks away. Have you thought about what you’re going to do on your visit?

Our conference planning team member and Newfoundland resident, Trine Schioldan, has put together a few lists to help you make the most of your time there.

About this stamp: Before Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949, they printed their own stamps. This one celebrates the Newfoundland working dog and can be purchased from collectors like this one.

What to see and do in St. Johns and beyond has something for everyone—from arts and history to archeology, and wildlife. (Curious about Newfoundland’s historical role in aging port wine? It’s on the list.)

Reading is the next best way to immerse yourself in an area’s history and culture. Newfoundland and Labrador Books: Recommended Reading brings together a collection of historical and modern favourites about Newfoundland and the people who live there.

And finally, don’t forget to check out and bookmark the province’s own tourism website at It’s comprehensive and beautiful.

A different kind of team-building

Before I became an indexer, I worked for a company that made long-term services contracts with large companies. At the start of each engagement, we formed a deal team consisting of specialists—sales, solution designers, finance, and legal. The next thing we did was have a kickoff meeting where we introduced ourselves and our roles and talked about the deal’s goals. The meeting was often followed by a dinner and a social so that the deal team members could “bond”. Those were fun times, even for the introverts, which was almost everyone except the sales and legal people, for some weird reason.

Getting a book published is a big deal too, especially for the author. Perhaps the publisher and the author start with some kind of “deal team” formation, with a kickoff meeting and socializing. If there is, we indexers wouldn’t know. We swoop in near the end of the engagement. If there were any bonding moments, we missed them.

And what indexer would have the time for that kind of team building anyway?

Instead, there’s another way to begin a satisfying relationship with your client. And Pierke Bosschieter is going to show us how, when you come to the conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland this June 12-13. Visit the conference page for details.

Wikipedia Matters

When Wikipedia launched in 2001, it was almost a free-for-all. What a concept! Anybody can contribute and anybody can edit this free and open resource that aimed to be a living collection of the world’s knowledge.

But the question on everyone’s mind was, how do you control the accuracy of the information? Indeed, there were digital dust-ups in the earlier years as writers and editors fought back and forth over ideological slants, as well as inaccuracies and nonsense. Wikipedia was forced to work through these battles, and as a result, they’ve implemented sophisticated processes and controls for creating, editing, and reviewing articles.

Wikipedia now has 6 million articles on just the English site alone. If you’re a notable subject, meaning you have attracted attention for a significant period of time, you should be in there. And if you’re in there, what’s written about you had better be complete and accurate because that’s where online researchers look first.

Some adorable notables (Robert Havell Jr. W. H. Coverdale Collection. Library and Archives Canada, C-040540k / )

The Centre for Newfoundland Studies (CNS) at Memorial University recognized this when they thought about the availability of research on Newfoundland and Labrador. And so, last fall, historian Jenny Higgins was named CNS’s first Wikipedian-in-Residence. You can hear about Jenny’s adventures in bringing depth to articles when she speaks at the conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland June 12-13. Register now and get your early bird discount.

Register now at the conference page and get your early bird discount.

Conference Registration Now Open

The annual ISC/SCI conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland is now open for Early Bird registration.
The conference will be held on Friday and Saturday, June 12 – 13.

Take advantage of these early bird rates until April 30:

  • Members (including ASI, ANSZI, SI, all other affiliates and Editors Canada): $290 for full two-day conference, $155 for one day
  • Non-members: $330 for two-day conference, $200 for one day
  • Special rate for eligible full-time students: $155 for the two-day conference and $85 for one day.

On Sunday we have two half-day workshops: “Index Manager” with Katharina Munk ($75) and “Live Indexing” with Kate Mertes ($75).

On Thursday, we have a special event for new indexers—the Fireside Chat with Stephen Ullstrom and Margaret De Boer. It’s free.

Later on Thursday, join us on the Iceberg Quest boat tour for $63 plus 15% sales tax. (Please register before April 11.)

Prices are in Canadian Dollars.

All of this can be booked online here.

Conference guests include keynote speaker Mary Norris (author and New Yorker magazine copyeditor), Jenny Higgins (Wikipedian-in-Residence at Memorial University) and Colleen Field (Centre for Newfoundland Studies) on periodical databases.

The program also includes Max McMaster on government indexes, Glenda Browne on thesaurus and ontology management, Pierke Bosschieter on self-employment, Kate Mertes on embedded indexes, Pilar Wyman and Judi Gibb with Glenda Browne on NISO, Christine Jacobs on taking your indexing to the next level, and a panel of past award winners on the “Road to Ewart-Daveluy”.

Visit the conference page for the details, including tips for planning your travel and links to accommodations.