The early years

I was born in New York City, the second son of Eli and Rita Lagoze, and younger brother of Howard Lagoze.  The name Lagoze, which is pronounced literally with a short ‘a’, long ‘o’, and long ‘e’ has an interesting derivation. It is not Italian; it is a strangely morphed Jewish name.  As far as i know there are only five living Lagoze’s in the world; myself, my daughter, brother, mother, and nephew.

I spent my formative years in Cheltenham PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. The latter part of this was during the turbulent and fascinating late sixties, during which I partook in the politics, long hair, love beads, and other accoutrements of the era.

College and Ithaca years

I arrived in Ithaca, NY as a freshman at Cornell in 1971, the beginning of a 41 year stay there.  My undergraduate major was Urban Studies, an independent major mixing computer science, urban planning, and political science.  My undergraduate adviser was Douglas Van Houweling, who ironically is the Associate Dean of Research at the School of Information at University of Michigan, which I am joining as a faculty member 37 years after my earning of a B.A. from Cornell.

Following my graduation, I stayed in Ithaca, being a fan of its mixture of laid back lifestyle, academic culture, progressive politics, and timeless physical beauty.  i still maintain that the Finger Lakes region of New York is one of the great bicycling locales.  Over the years, I climbed the IT ladder at Cornell as a programmer, analyst, project manager, research assistant, and system administrator in a number of departments including Veterinary Medicine, Chemistry, Computer Science, and the University Library.

Along the way, I took a step to improve my professional credentials in the late 1980’s by earning a Masters Degree in Software Engineering at the Wang Institute in Tyngsboro, MA.  Wang Institute, an interesting hybrid of academic institution and corporate training ground, is now defunct, a victim of the collapse of Wang Labs, and an interesting lesson on why academia and the corporate world should be insulated from each other.

Also along the way, I became a father of the fantastic Lucy Lagoze, who is one of the greatest joys of my life.

Early research

My research career began in 1993 when I joined an early digital library research project, the Computer Science Technical Reports (CSTR) project at Cornell Computer Science.  The project was joint work with Stanford, Berkeley, CMU, MIT, and CNRI, and gave me the opportunity to work with and learn from leading researchers in the nascent digital  library research area.  My research mentor was Jim Davis from Xerox, seconded to Cornell, to whom I am deeply indebted for his wise guidance.  Working together, we created Dienst (Distributed Interactive Extensible System for Technical Reports), a groundbreaking web-based distributed digital library architecture and deployed it in the international NCSTRL (Networked Computer Science Technical Research Library).

This work laid the  foundation for a series of research projects that explored various facets of the digital library research space within the context of the Cornell Digital Library Research Group (CDLRG).  These include Fedora, the Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture (joint with Sandy Payette); the Warwick Framework for the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (joint work with Ron Daniel, Jr. and Clifford Lynch); the ABC Metadata Ontology (joint work with Jane Hunter); OAI-PMH, Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (joint work with Herbert Van de Sompel, Simeon Warner, Michael Nelson, and others); and OAI-ORE, Open Archives Initiative Object Reuse and Exchange (joint work with Herbert van de Sompel, Simeon Warner, Michael Nelson, Rob Sanderson, Pete Jounston, and others).  This work was possible through the generous support of the National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, Microsoft, and the Moore Foundation.

Another delightful outcome of this period was joining with Sandy Payette both professionally and matrimonially.  She has enriched my life in all ways.

PhD and faculty appointments

In tandem with my expanding research presence,I began to teach at Cornell Computer Science, work with PhD students, and play an important role in the formation of the Cornell Information Science Department.  With the support and guidance of a number of key people, most notably Geri Gay, Bill Arms, and Bob Constable, I leveraged my research work to earn a PhD in 2010 from Cornell Information Science.  My dissertation “Lost identity: the assimilation of digital libraries into the web” explored the history of digital library research and focused on the sociotechnical factors that influenced the relevance of the “digital library meme” in the broader web information context.

My dissertation work and my appointment as an Associate Professor in Information Science at Cornell, a department that combines technically-oriented faculty with social scientists, economists, and other human and social-focused areas  marked an important transition in my research work. Whereas my earlier work had an almost exclusively technical focus, I became increasingly interested in the social, cultural, and political context of these technical artifacts.  Like a number of other colleagues and scholars I realized that the success of cyberinfrasructure for data-intensive scholarship, cyberlearning, digital libraries, and the like depends on a full accounting of these nontechnical factors and the manner in which they reflect on technologies and how technologies reflect on them.

The Ann Arbor years

In September 2012, after 41 years in Ithaca New York and Cornell University, I moved to Ann Arbor Michigan to assume an Associate Professor position in the School of Information (SI) at the University of Michigan. Although it is hard to leave close friends and colleagues, the opportunity to take my research program and teaching interests to an outstanding and vibrant place like SI is tremendously exciting. I look forward to new colleagues, new opportunities, and new challenges in the years ahead.