Joseph Reagle

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Good Faith Collaboration Reading the Comments Hacking Life

I write and teach about digital communication and online communities.

In 2019, the MIT Press published Hacking Life: Systematized Living and its Discontents, an inaugural book in their new Strong Ideas series. Hacking Life is about an approach to a life of too much: Too many choices, too little time, too much stuff. Systematized living allows us to simplify, focus, and block out distractions—possibly ignoring the circumstances and people left at the periphery.

Earlier work includes Reading the Comments (2015), in which I argue online discourse is only as bad as we let it be, and it can only be understood by reading the comments at the bottom of the Web. Before that, in Good Faith Collaboration (2010), I argued that Wikipedia is the realization of the centuries-old pursuit of a universal encyclopedia, achieved by way of a novel mission and culture. I also write about online pop-culture (“infocide” and “FOMO”) and have a handful of papers related to geek feminism. (“Geek Policing: Fake Geek Girls and Contested Attention” is my favorite.) I’m currently working on digital complicity, a collection of reflections on Wikipedia @ 20, and a possible book about the history and disappointments of high-tech hopefulness.

I am an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University. I’ve also had the pleasure of being a fellow (in 1998 and 2010) and faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. During its life, I was honored to serve as an advisor to the Ada Initiative (“supporting women in open technology and culture”).

A long time ago I was a Computer Science student at UMBC. I then moved to Cambridge and completed the Masters program in Technology and Policy at MIT. After a brief time as a consultant in New York City, I returned to the MIT Lab for Computer Science as a policy analyst and W3C/IETF Working Group chair and editor. After almost a decade in Cambridge, I left for New York again to articulate and contextualize my experience with new media and collaborative communities at NYU’s Department of Media, Communication, and Culture. I concluded my graduate studies at NYU with a doctoral dissertation on the history and collaborative culture of Wikipedia. I’ve been able to speak about my work with popular media, including The Economist and The New York Times.

I live in Cambridge, but like to travel—I’m particularly fond of Sydney and Tokyo, and I love to visit the waterfalls of wherever I go. I’m a geek, no doubt, and enjoy riding my bicycle, vegan cooking (especially baking!), photography, and haiku.

In addition to the publications in my curriculum vitae, you can also read my research blog. If you are bored, you could check out my even older work including student projects from MIT and UMBC, and twenty years’ worth of photos and writing on the Web.

Copyright (1997-2019) Joseph M. Reagle Jr.