Before arriving at the OII to study for his MSc in 2011, Laird Barrett, an English Literature graduate from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, worked in the sales side of the publishing industry. Having now returned to the publishing industry as an eProduct Manager at Taylor & Francis, Laird met with Tim Davies to reflect on his time at Oxford.

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Tim: What attracted you about coming to the OII?

Laird: At every publisher I worked for there was uncertainty and anxiety about the shift from print to digital. I wanted to gain a better understanding of the architecture, regulation and use of the Internet, with the aim of returning to publishing and confidently leading the industry’s transition. The OII was a great place to gain that knowledge. I concentrated much of my attention to questions related to publishing and the digital humanities during my time at the OII, but the topic of my thesis was the institutional and cultural factors influencing the use or non-use of new technology. I used the University of Manchester’s Medical School as the subject of my study, where iPads had recently been deployed to all fourth year students.

Tim: And what are you doing now?

Laird: I’ve started a job at Taylor & Francis, one of the big academic publishers. I’m an eProduct Manager there, working specifically on developing Taylor & Francis’s open access journals programme.

Tim: Did your time at the OII prepare you for this role?

Laird: Absolutely. My time at the OII provided great preparation for the role, particularly in terms of learning about scholarly communication online and open access publishing. I also learned how to ask the right questions about Internet-related issues and how to research and answer those questions.

Tim: What do you miss most about Oxford?

Laird: The daily intellectual challenges, the conversations with people smarter than me, the scheduling flexibility, the frequent social events, the access to great buildings and collections of books and art, the freedom to pursue my interests…

Tim: And finally, where do you see yourself doing in 5 years?

Laird: It’s hard to say. I suppose in five years’ time I will hopefully hold a senior position at a publisher whose products I love to read, whether that is an academic or trade publisher, or a magazine. However, it is just as possible that I might end up reading for a DPhil instead.


Note: This post gives the views of the author(s), and not necessarily the position of the Oxford Internet Institute.