I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington Information School, interested in issues related to digital information, digital culture, and information policy.
In my dissertation, Constructing the Universal Library, I employ a broadly sociotechnical perspective to compare 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: the Boston Public Library (1848-1865), Carnegie Library program (1881-1899), Google Books Library Project (2004-2013), and Open Content Alliance (2005-2013). Of particular interest: all of these projects 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, this dissertation examines exactly how the leadership of each project was imagining (and circumscribing) their “everyone” and their “everything,” and the influence of those definitions and assumptions on the structures and practices through which each was initially implemented.
In addition to my dissertation work, I am currently working as a sort of pre-doctoral postdoc at the University of Michigan Libraries (my official title is “Research Associate”), working with now-emeritus Dean of Libraries Paul Courant on a book, provisionally entitled The Scholarly Information Ecosystem in the Age of Google. I am also continuing to teach off and on, at both the University of Washington Information School and the University of Michigan School of Information.
Outside of work, I am an avid consumer of pop culture, I love to cook, bake, 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: