Devon Mordell

I'm Devon Mordell, an information professional specializing in the preservation of born-digital archives and the use of technology-enhanced modalities in providing access to digital collections. My CV will give you a better idea of where I'm coming from, but to summarize: I've been fortunate for the opportunity to wear a few different professional and scholarly hats, and I draw liberally from my background in art, design, critical theory, education and technology to enrich my current work.

From the arts (where I started), I learned the DIY/Heloise principle of working within constraints and making a little go a very long way, as well as an attentiveness to aesthetic experience and an aptitude for solving creative puzzles.*

* NB: I prefer the term "puzzles" to "problems," lest it becomes the way in which I start to see the world - i.e. as a series of problems.

From critical theory (where I headed next), I became more aware of my privilege and complicity in systems of oppression as a white cisgender settler/colonizer - a process that will be always ongoing - which manifests in my current work as a commitment to calling out or otherwise denaturalizing the power structures that invisibly (for dominant groups, at least) surround our information practices.

From archival and information studies (where I am now), I have come to appreciate the fragile future of our digital heritage, the possibilities for reaching non-traditional audiences through the use of digital technologies, and a more nuanced notion of providing access that acknowledges the experiences of disenfranchised communities who, subjected to various regimes of surveillance over time, may justly challenge prevailing ideologies about the universal goodness of open access to everything for everyone.

Throughout my scholarly endeavours, the twin threads of my career path - education and technology - have remained constant, weaving their way into my thinking and praxis. My experience working with digital technologies - both as a tool and as a medium - has instilled in me the ability to envision innovative potential applications for them, a deep understanding of the larger infrastructure behind them, and a gigantic reservoir of patience to troubleshoot technical problems with them ("problems" *is* a legitimate framing term here). But the largest influence on my work is no doubt education, a passion of mine for longer than I can remember. From my activities in the educational realm, I have gained an enduring love of learning, and the humility to recognize that - in teaching - we all learn from each other.

You could say that I'm a bit of an intellectual wanderer (I prefer the term "adventuress"), focused more on the journey than the destination, and picking up a lot of interesting things along the way...


Please do get in touch! You can reach me via email at dmordell [at] I use she/her/hers pronouns.

Wait... where's your Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / YouTube / etc. account?

It's complicated. In contemplating the systemic disregard for individual privacy, the eroding distinction between the personal/professional and leisure/work, and the encroachment of corporate interests into the social sphere, the brief attempts I've made to participate in various forms of social media have generally been defeated for the above reasons (aside from the obligatory LinkedIn profile, and I'm still profoundly uncomfortable with how much personal data I've shared there).

At the same time, I see the immense value of both giving and receiving on social media, particularly in the field of information studies. So the "Contact" zone here may not be barren of social media accounts forever... now that we are in the Cretaceous Period of their technology adoption lifecycle, cough.

UPDATE: I caved. You can find me on twitter @retrofuturiste.