About

Listening to Manuel Castells critiquing my workI am Lecturer at the University of Washington Information School and a Research Associate at the University of Michigan Libraries. My primary research interests include the dynamics of digital information transitions, the future of scholarly communication, and information policy.

I recently moved back to Seattle to take up a position as a lecturer in LIS and Informatics. Prior to that, I spent two years in Ann Arbor, Michigan, developing a program of research centered on the future of scholarly communication in the digital world (with an eye toward developing a book on the topic) in collaboration with now-emeritus UM Dean of Libraries Paul Courant; that work remains ongoing.

That stream of research has recently 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, and a more comprehensive paper on the topic will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Scholarly Publishing.

I defended my dissertation, Constructing the Universal Library, at the University of Washington Information School in May 2014. In that work, I 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 initiatives, 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 first moved to 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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