Ian Watson's Web Site

Greetings from Reykjavík!

I am an associate professor in the social science department at Bifröst University, in the countryside outside Reykjavík, and an associate professor in the media technology department at Gjøvik University College in Norway. I have also been part of the Reykjavík Academy, an independent association of Icelandic scholars, since 2001, and have taught regularly in the bachelor's program in graphic design at Iceland's art university.

My publications list shows all of my scholarly publications, selected unpublished papers, travel writing, and journalism, most of which is available on-line. The sidebar at right has the latest links.

My academic training is in linguistics (B.A.) and in the study of standardization and convention (Ph.D.). Here's an abbreviated CV. Feel free to download my Ph.D. dissertation, called Cognitive Design, which focuses on the standardization of things that are organized into sets. Or you can read a summary of the dissertation.

I am the chair of the advisory board for Bókasafn Dagsbrúnar (the Dagsbrún Library), which was originally a library for Iceland's trade union members and has been housed at the Reykjavík Academy since 2003. Through both my library and editing work I have gotten involved in promoting open access to scholarly publications in Iceland along with a small group of other academics and librarians. My current work in this area involves assisting Icelandic authors of in-copyright books who wish to open access to them, usually under a Creative Commons license, and linking publicly accessible scans of out-of-copyright works to the Icelandic library catalogue. These projects are funded by the Efling labor union and the Reykjavík Academy.

I do a limited amount of Icelandic-to-English translation and proofreading work on a freelance basis. In 2014 I passed the demanding state-administered test to be licensed as an official Icelandic-English translator. Please call or e-mail me if you are interested. Previous clients have included Bjartur-Veröld, Sögur útgáfa, the University Centre of the West Fjords, Bifröst University, the Art University of Iceland, the Reykjavík Planning and Building Department, the Reykjavík mayor's office, Snjáfjallasetur, Sögumiðlun, Félag íslenskra teiknara, Sel-Hótel Mývatn, Landsbanki Íslands, and various individual scholars.

Since 1989 I have worked almost every summer in the travel industry as a travel guidebook author, tour manager and guide, tour planner, cruise lecturer, and in a travel bookstore. (Check out my list of all the projects I've worked on.) Since 1993 I have worked regularly for Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door of Edmonds, Washington. It's been great to help promote Rick's travel philosophy. I've also worked for Let's Go, Frommer's, Holland America Lines, Heimsferðir, and with Elderhostel tours of Iceland.

I've been involved in genealogy for three decades both semi-professionally and as a hobbyist. My genealogy page makes available some of the work (some for hire, some grant-supported, some for fun) that I have done over the years, including my work on the Pasco family and the Catawba Indians. However, most of my activity these days is on the collaborative website familysearch.org, where I've uploaded several hundred family photographs and documents. I also have put my own database of ancestors and cousins up on the net (as HTML generated by the webtrees program), but have not maintained this since 2011. You can also read a newspaper article based on some of the work I've done tracing the American relatives of Icelanders whose fathers were members of the U.S. military forces stationed here.

For a number of years I was active in consumer affairs in Iceland. I was on the board of directors of the Consumers Association of Iceland from 2008 to 2014, and from 2010 to 2013 I was in charge of product review articles in their magazine Neytendablaðið. I also worked on a number of projects for Iceland's now-defunct Consumer Spokesman, including the Leiðakerfi neytenda (a website offering Icelandic consumers advice on dispute resolution) and a report (in English) on the problem of small claims resolution in Iceland. Together with both the Consumer Spokesman and the Consumers' Association I have been involved in lobbying for modernization of the legislation surrounding mail-order purchases in Iceland. In 2013 I served on a committee established by a parliamentary resolution whose report recommended a number of changes to the relevant legislation.

I'm a past board member, vice chair and chair of the Icelandic-American Business Forum. There I spent much time lobbying for negotiations towards a social security totalization agreement between Iceland and the U.S. I'm happy to report that these got underway in September 2011.

Here are some links to resources from the time I spent in eastern Europe between 1992 and 1994.

If you are looking for baby pictures, please e-mail me for the website address.

Recent Publications

"Small claims resolution in Iceland: status and prospects." A preliminary report written for Iceland’s Consumer Spokesman, December 2013.

Ian Watson and Guðmundur Árni Þórisson, "The Icelandic Open Access Barometer 2013," Samtíð 1 (2013), 6.

"An unusually open identification number system: The Icelandic kennitala." Pages 132-144 in Gayle Lonergan, Ilsen About, and James Brown (eds.), Identification and Registration Practices in Transnational Perspective. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

My translation of Draumaland by Arna Skúladóttir, under the name Sweet Dreams (Carroll & Brown, 2012).

"Open Minds: An interview with Ian Watson, Bifröst University in Iceland", by Sólveig Þorsteinsdóttir in ScieCom Info 7, 3 (2011).

"A short history of national identification numbering in Iceland." Bifröst Journal of Social Science 4 (2010): 51-89.

Review of Wasteland with words: a social history of Iceland by Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon. Reykjavík Grapevine, 8 October 2010, p. 26.

Review of Vikings in America by Graeme Davis. Reykjavík Grapevine, 30 July 2010, p. 34.

Review of Living Inside the Meltdown by Alda Sigmundsdóttir. Reykjavík Grapevine, 2 July 2010, p. 38.

Review of The Real Iceland by Páll Ásgeir Ásgeirsson and Top 10 Reykjavík and Iceland by Dr. Gunni. Reykjavík Grapevine, 4 December 2009, p. 30.

"Starting an open access journal in Iceland." ScieCom Info 5,3 (2009).

Review of The Far Traveler by Nancy Marie Brown. Reykjavík Grapevine, 25 September 2009, p. 26.

Review of Children's Reykjavík. Reykjavík Grapevine, 28 August 2009, p. 34.

Review of The travels of Reverend Ólafur Egilsson, translated by Karl Smári Hreinsson and Adam Nichols. Reykjavík Grapevine, 14 August 2009, p. 30.