NOTE: This is an old page. A newer version is at: http://tkbr.ccsp.sfu.ca/education/master-of-publishing/faculty-and-industry-guests/john-maxwell/john-maxwell-research/ so please see that page.
John W. Maxwell is an Assistant Professor in the Masters of Publishing Program at SFU.
You can reach me (if you’re a human being): jmax (at) sfu.ca On twitter I am jmaxsfu
My background is in cultural anthropology, information technology, publishing, and the history of computing. I have extensive experience with the design and development of document management systems with XML, online learning environments, and, increasingly, online collaborative constructive environments (of which I would name wiki as the current paradigm). My primary research agenda is the cultural dynamics of digital technology integration -- how the way we think, work, and act changes as we inhabit different kinds of digital media.
Situated in the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing, the focus of my research is most obviously the book and magazine industries in Canada, though I spend at least as much time paying attention to the online world. I am interested in developing answers to this question: will the publishing industry as we know it survive the digital revolution? In doing so, I am currently finding it less fruitful to look at the digital practices of existing publishers (which is, in most cases very conservative) and rather more fruitful to look at how digital media and online culture encroach upon what has traditionally been publishers' turf. The few enterprises who have attempted to occupy a space in between -- Coach House, Raincoast, O'Reilly, to name a few -- are particularly interesting, but I feel that none yet has a handle on the scale of this shift. So what we are seeing is one million flowers blooming, but no sense of what the overall garden might look like yet. That will change.
I teach the two technology-oriented courses in the Master of Publishing Program (PUB802, PUB607) and am part of the CCSP Press -- which is being re-imagined as a publishing research laboratory. I also teach publishing related courses in the School of Communications, and I run the Web Content Management offering in the SFU Summer Publishing Workshops.
I have been involved in the Internet and new media since the early 1990s. My professional background includes web development, content management, electronic publishing, sgml & xml, learning technologies, and virtual communities.
I was a member of the first MPub cohort at SFU in 1995/96. After working on educational technology at the Open Learning Agency (which was also my intership host) through the late 1990s, I went back to school (UBC) to do a PhD in curriculum and instruction. There, my research focused on the cultural trajectories of “personal computing” since the 1960s, and in particular in the work of computing pioneer Alan Kay at Xerox PARC (and beyond).
I have been teaching and doing research at SFU since the early 00s. My current research interests are the impact of digital technologies in the cultural sector, the history of computing and new media, and contemporary myth-making in the face of digital media. The practical side of my research is in XML production strategies, online editorial workflow, and collaborative online environments.
The Thinkubator is my ongoing project lab. It is (currently) a wiki pretending to be a blogging/webforum platform. More broadly, it is a working laboratory for publication architecture and content management concepts.
My PhD dissertation is online here:
Some selected recent online writings:
- XML Production Workflows
- BookCamp 09: Reflections on Books and the Web
- On Copyright and the Google Settlement.
- Early Unix Culture at Coach House Press
For much more, see http://www.ccsp.sfu.ca/Faculty/JohnMaxwellPapers