John Maxwell

Associate Professor
Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology


BA, MPub, PhD (UBC)


John Maxwell is interested in how technological change impacts book and periodical publishing, in the history of publishing, and in the emergence of digital forms, genres, and mythologies.

John has been working on the Web since 1993. Since then, he’s been working on content management strategies, electronic publishing, SGML & XML, learning technologies, virtual communities, and reflecting on the history of all that. John was a member of the first Master of Publishing cohort at SFU in 1995/96. He’s worked with Canadian book and magazine publishers on digital strategies looking forward, and also on the history of tech innovations in publishing.

After working on educational technology at the BC’s Open Learning Agency through the late 1990s, he did a PhD in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of British Columbia where his research focused on the cultural history of personal and educational computing at Xerox PARC in the 1970s.

John has taught in the Publishing Program at SFU since 2001, and became the Director of the program in 2014. He teaches the MPub seminar PUB 802 – Technology & Evolving Forms of Publishing.

John’s current research involves the evolution of scholarly communications, open scholarship, the digitization of SFU Library’s 16th century Aldine Collection, and historical research on digital tech. John publishes the open-access journal Pop! Public. Open. Participatory. He usually teaches a course on “Text Processing Techniques & Traditions” at DHSI each June.

John is almost a BC native (he was born east of the Rockies but has lived on the coast most of his life). He’s married with a couple of big kids, 2¾ cats, and a very large puppy.

Research Interests

Technology, Digital Media, History of Publishing, History of Technology, Content Management, Policy, Copyright.

Selected Publications

Maxwell, John W. 2020. “Text Processing Techniques & Traditions: Why the History of Computing Matters to DH” in Doing Digital Humanities 2: A Companion Volume. ed by by Richard J. Lane, Raymond Siemens, and Constance Crompton. Routledge.

Maxwell, John W, et al. 2019. “Mind the Gap: A Landscape Analysis of Open Source Publishing Tools and Platforms.” MIT Press/Knowledge Futures Group. DOI: 10.21428/6bc8b38c.2e2f6c3f

Maxwell, John W, Alessandra Bordini, & Katie Shamash. 2017. “Reassembling Scholarly Communications: An Evaluation of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Monograph Initiative.” Journal of Electronic Publishing 20 (1), April, 2017.