** The following is the acknowledgements section from my recently completed and defended dissertation. I wanted to share them here as a way of more publicly acknowledging those that have impacted my thinking along the way. **
In many ways, a dissertation is a sort of journal. Its contents are informed and shaped by one’s experiences—some academic, some not. Entire chapters can grow out of a seemingly innocuous conference exchange; significant life events can radically reframe one’s relationship to the subject matter at hand. These experiences are enshrined in the document as arguments and ideas. Ultimately, the dissertation is not only a piece of scholarship, but—like a journal—it is also a record of how far one has travelled, intellectually and otherwise. This dissertation is no exception and I would like to acknowledge those that have impacted me during my travels.
I owe a great deal of gratitude to my advisor and dissertation committee co-chair, Dr. Michael Zimmer, for seeing me through this process. His encouragement, critical insight, and intellectual availability made this entire project possible. I consider myself extremely lucky to call him an advisor, advocate, and friend. I also want to thank my other committee co-chair, Dr. Johannes Britz, for setting me on this path and for being an early and continued supporter of my work. Additional thanks are due to the rest of my committee—Dr. Sandra Braman, Dr. Wilhelm Peekhaus, and Dr. Andrea Westlund—for their time, comments, and generosity throughout this process.
I am grateful for feedback from colleagues at the Oxford Internet Institute’s Summer Doctoral Programme (Oxford, 2012) and the Values in Design Workshop (Irvine, 2012). These early conversations were influential in showing me some possibilities and challenges for this project. In particular, I want to thank Dr. Victoria Nash for her continued engagement with my work, as well as Dr. Luciano Floridi for constructive discussion of my ideas at various points, both in Milwaukee and during my time in Oxford. Further thanks are due to Annette Markham, who provided valuable feedback during a dissertation workshop at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Information Studies in early 2013. Thank you to Amelia Acker for conversations that immediately informed my approach to Google Books. Finally, I want to acknowledge Dr. Blain Neufeld, whose graduate seminar on global justice informed much of my understanding of contemporary liberal theories of social justice.
Also, because brains live in bodies (and bodies have lives and needs and experiences beyond the intellectual), I want to thank those whose support has been vital both within and beyond the academy. I am indebted to Chad Zahrt for being a friend and fierce administrative ally from day one. Thank you to Raina and Dave Bloom for their constant friendship and support. Their intellectual insights have shaped my thinking, their humor has kept me sane, and their kitchen table has kept me fed. I am further grateful to Dr. Elizabeth Buchanan, who gave me my first opportunities in academia and has remained a constant source of guidance and encouragement. Most recently, she was my earliest confidant in academia when I began coming out as trans. Without those early conversations, I’m not sure I would have found the courage I needed to transition while working on the dissertation. To Elizabeth: you will always be my “Milwaukee Mom”—even if neither of us lives in Milwaukee anymore.
Finally, I owe the deepest debt of gratitude to my partner, Mariah Flynn. Her love underwrites everything I do.
10 May 2014 / Anna Lauren