About

Listening to Manuel Castells critiquing my workI am currently (for just a brief time longer!) a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington Information School, conducting research on issues relating to digital information, digital culture, and information policy. I also currently teach in the UW iSchool’s online program, mentoring several groups of MLIS students as they execute their degree-culminating capstone projects.

At the moment, I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, having worked as a sort of “pre-doc postdoc” at the University of Michigan Libraries since 2011. In that position, I have had the pleasure of working with now-emeritus UM Dean of Libraries Paul Courant on several pieces of research related to the future of scholarly communication in the digital world, with an eye toward developing a book on the topic.

Most recently, our work has been focused on debunking the persistent myth that the “serials crisis” of the early 1990s bears central responsibility for the declining fate of university presses, as rising serials prices crowded out monographic purchasing by academic libraries. A brief presentation of some of this work can be found elsewhere on this site.

My dissertation, Constructing the Universal Library, is complete, and will be defended in May. In it, I have compared the motivations, internal self-definitions, and initial implementations of four large-scale attempts to democratize access to book-based information, two historical and two contemporary, namely:

  • The Boston Public Library (1848-1865),
  • The Carnegie Library program (1881-1899),
  • The Google Books Library Project (2004-2013), and
  • The Open Content Alliance (2005-2013).

All of these projects, I suggest, represent attempts to provide as many books as possible, to as many people as possible, to a large extent free of charge to the end user. Or, more briefly and less accurately, they sought to provide everything to everyone for free. But technological systems are rarely, if ever, designed quite so universally in practice. Thus, the dissertation employs a sociotechnical perspective to examine exactly how the leadership of each project imagined (and circumscribed) their “everyone” and their “everything,” and the influence of those definitions and assumptions on the structures and practices through which each was initially implemented.

If you want to know more about me professionally, here’s my CV (PDF here).

Outside of work, I am an avid consumer of pop culture, I love to cook, bake, knit, and build things, and when I lived in Washington, I got the hiking bug in a big way: in fact, in 2008, I climbed Mt. Rainier (though the photo at left is on Mt. Adams).

Oh, and the usual disclaimer: the thoughts and opinions expressed on this site are solely my own, and do not represent those of any of my employers or other institutions with which I am or have been affiliated. Also: nothing on these pages should be construed as legal advice.

If you want to contact me, I’m most easily reached via email, at eaj6 [at] uw [dot] edu – but here are some other ways to find me:

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