Updated: November 30 2012
Dear fellow conferences attendees,
I want to start by stressing how much I have enjoyed and benefited from 4S conferences. This year in particular, I did not attended a single boring, obvious or simple per or talk, I did not meet anybody who was not researching something incredibly interesting; I was constantly moved, stimulated, intrigued and even entertained by all the people and things (let us not forget the food) that made this year’s event. In short, it was brilliant. However, (there is always a however) Trevor Pinch’s presidential talk and welcome remarks in the programme made me think.
During his talk he highlighted the uniqueness of our field, of our topics, and of our methods. This led me to question, what about our conferences? Have we not become slightly standardized and conservative in the way we present our work at our conferences? Then, he commented on how complicated the process of choosing which session to go to has become because the number of sessions and attendees had grown drastically since 1976. This made me remember what I had been hearing from fellow conference goers: “I can email them and get the paper” (which by the way will be more difficult this time since emails were not included in the booklet). This again led me to question if we could structure the conference in a different way.
Ruminating this ideas led me to think: While writing academic papers for academic journals in the way we do is important and necessary because we are addressing a wide public, when at the 4S conferences we are ‘at home’ within ‘family’ so we could have spaces and moments in which we could do things slightly less conventional; we could experiment with and among ourselves. Why not come up with alternative ways of interacting, of presenting our work and of commenting on it?
Clearly going to conferences is about much more than only listening to papers. Harry Collins pointed this out very clearly “...conferences are vital. The chat in the bars and corridors is what matters... Face-to-Face communication is extraordinarily efficient - so much can be transmitted with the proper eye contact, body movement, hand contact, and so forth. This is where tokens of trust are exchanged, the trust that holds the whole scientific community together" (Harry Collins, 2004:450).
This made me think that maybe we should be creating more opportunities for interaction, but a different type of interaction, something in between the informal social interaction that takes place at the bar and the formal conference interaction that takes place during the parallel sessions. I want to stress that by no means am I suggesting the elimination or transformation of the parallel sessions, I think they are great as they are, I am simply suggesting to add some new spaces for other types of interaction.These alternative interaction modes could be scheduled either on the first day before the opening keynote speakers, during lunch time or even before or after the ‘official’ conference dates.
With these vague ideas in mind I approached Trevor Pinch and, in conversation with him, some slightly more organised ideas emerged. Here I present these ideas with the intention of provoking and inviting all to think about new ways we can interact at conferences.
1. ‘Speed dating/presentation’ Like speed dating in which you have a few minutes to present yourself and exchange contact details, in this format we could present some brief elements of our work and arrange for future meetings. These sessions could be arranged around specific themes or topics, for example: methods, areas of research, theory, etc.
2. Round tables of work-in-progress. Like the ones that were experimented with at the Washington meeting. In these we present work-in-progress with the purpose of getting feedback. In this format, instead of presenting for 15 minutes and then having 5 for questions. The presentation is intermingled with the questions and with maybe handson work.
3. General presentation and then work in groups. Similar to the current sessions, the speakers present their work but in this case more briefly (max 5 minutes) and then move on to working tables where they assemble with those interested in their work to further develop the topic in a dialogue format.
4. Poster presentations Following on the traditional poster presentations used at medical meeting and other scientific conferences we could also have a poster presentation.
5. Experimental presentations. In several paper presentations I heard either the presenters or the discussants comment on how they would have liked to bringing stuff for us listeners to experience with (for example in the session Affective Ecologies both Kelly Ladd and Heather Paxson commented that they could have included chocolate fondue and cheese). Others did bring stuff but we had no time to play around with them (for example, Cameron Michael Murray & Alasdair McMillan who brought a monochord, I think that is what it was). In this format the idea is to have the opportunity of experimenting with the material the speaker is working with.
6. Workshops. These could be similar to things that take place during summer schools with topics related to the theme of that years conference or the place where it is being held (e.g. This year, we could have organised a workshop with the chefs of the New Nordic Food and the collectors of the wild herbs and fruits or with the COBE architect firm). These workshops could be scheduled before the conference begins.
These are just a few still very unstructured ideas. The main purpose of this letter is to invite all to think about new ways in which we could ake advantage of being all gathered in the same place remembering that some forms of communication can now be left for the digital realm while others still need the physical interaction of humans and non-human actors.
I again want to thank everyone for their interest and passion. Contrary to Groucho Marx, I like being part of this club.
Sandra P. Gonzalez-Santos, PhD.
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Copenhagen - Style, Design and Great Weather
Updated: November 07 2012
Meeting Summary by Trevor Pinch
October 24, 2012
If you're just back from Copenhagen like I am - you're probably exhausted. But nice exhausted as when you've been to a great all night party! We all wondered whether the CBS was big enough and could cope with the unprecedented numbers (over 1600 registered and many more showing up) The answer is yes they could! There was a worrying moment when we all lined up for beer at the first reception - would we ever get served? what if they ran out? what if there was a riot? But we did get served and so the party started - it has started already if you were at the earlier sessions but I was busy at the 4S Council meeting. And I would like to welcome three new people elected to Council - Kelly Moore, Wen Hua Kuo and Vivian Lagesen. I would also like to welcome in our new president elect, Gary Downey. Also I would like to thank everyone who stood and didn't get elected - there is always another time and our rules don't prevent you standing again. We really appreciate you being willing to serve.
As the organization grows we really depend upon our council members. One of the things they do is work on prize committees. We gave out the prizes this year as part of the plenary and nearly everyone I spoke with preferred it that way - so we will do it that way next year in San Diego, and with fewer prizes (we are not meeting with EASST) we will get more time for a substantive plenary. The prize winners this year were: Mullins Prize, Joeri Bruyninckx, "Sound Sterile: Making Scientific Field Recordings in Ornithology"; Edge Prize A.B. Edmonds "Learning to Love Yourself"; Carson Prize , Stefan Helmreich, Alien Oceans; Fleck Prize, Hugh Raffles, Insectopedia, Bernal prize, Adele Clarke. Congratulations!!!
Thanks in particular to Maya Horst and her team and Alan Irwin of the CBS for making the meeting possible. It set new "design standards" for food, drink and organization. The weather cooperated and as I walked around on Saturday afternoon amongst the groups of people sitting on the grass and benches (or in one case taking a nap) I thought that maybe I had reached STS heaven. Everyone was talking STS it seemed. It was the place to be!
Mullins Prize Presentation 2012
Updated: October 24 2012
As the Chair of the Nicholas Mullins student paper award committee, I would like to thank the other members of the prize committee, particularly Steve Zehr, for his work in reviewing the many excellent student papers we received last year—66 papers in all.
The winning paper, by Joeri Bruyninckx, entitled “Sound Sterile: Making Scientific Field Recordings in Ornithology” was about birds. I quote from Joeri’s beautifully written paper, which was about: "…how ornithologists made conscious decisions on what to record and how to record it. These decisions were structured by recording …technologies. …[T]he spectrograph represented cascading technologies of increasing control over sound, exemplified by a silenced and white background. It is through this sterile environment that the field site connects to the laboratory, as unwanted sound is intentionally eliminated."
While the birds are also important actors in the network, it is really about the ornithologists and the recording technologies. This is an excellent paper and well deserving of the 4S Nicholas Mullins student paper prize. So please do join us in congratulating Joeri Bruyninckx on winning this award. --Laurel Smith-Doerr
Handbook of Science & Technology Studies, Volume 3
Updated: September 18 2012The 4S Council has authorized the planning of a fourth volume of the Handbook of Science & Technology Studies for publication in 2015. The Handbook series has drawn together an extensive array of research syntheses with an eye toward defining, or perhaps better, mapping the major intellectual geographies of the field.
In this, the fourth official volume of the Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, we continue this tradition, while also expanding on it. Our aim is to continue to highlight key emerging terrains and major intellectual problems within the field, while also placing a new emphasis on defining the relevance of the field for other disciplines and for tackling the deep and widespread challenges confronting humanity in the 21st century.
As part of the planning process, the editorial team would like your input and feedback. Please visit http://stshandbook.com to find out more about the project and to provide your thoughts.
4S Announces New Journal Editor
Updated: December 23 2011The new editor of Science, Technology & Human Values was announced at the 4S meetings in Cleveland. Professor Edward Hackett, Arizona State University, will assume editorial duties effective Summer 2012. Professor Hackett brings a wealth of experience to the position. He was formally on the faculty of the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and most recently is Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. He also has served as Program Officer, Science and Technology Studies Program and Director, Division of Social and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation. Professor Hackett was an editor of the 3rd edition of the Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. He takes over editorial duties from Geof Bowker who has done an excellent job of strengthening the journal during his tenure.
4S Announces New Council Members, Prize Winners at 2011 Meeting
Updated: November 18 2011New Council members 2011-2014: Leandro Rodriguez Medina, Kaushik Sunder Rajan, Kenji Ito
Bernal Prize: Evelyn Fox Keller
Ludwik Fleck Prize: Marion Fourcade, Economists and Societies: Discipline and Profession in the United States, Britain and France, 1890s to 1990s. (Princeton, 2009).
Rachel Carson Prize: Lynn M. Morgan, Icons of Life: A Cultural History of Human Embryos. (University of California, 2009)
David Edge Prize: Wen-Hua Kuo, “The Voice on the Bridge: Taiwan’s Regulatory Engagement with Global Pharmaceuticals.” East Asian Science, Technology and Society: an International Journal, vol.3 no.1 (2009), pp.51-72.
Nicholas Mullins Award: Sara Wylie
Latin American Interest Group Plans 2014 Meeting
Updated: July 22 2011Since the 4S meeting in Montreal in 2006, over 30 STS scholars from various disciplines and countries have participated as organizers, discussants and/or presenters in sessions focused on Latin American science and technology issues. We continue these gatherings at the next 4S annual conference in Cleveland, November 2011 with six paper sessions that feature the Latin American region.
Last year the 4S Latin American Group was granted 4S New Initiatives funds to host a regional meeting during June 2011 in Buenos Aires, Argentina for the purpose of (1) developing an edited volume on the state of Latin America STS and (2) to pre-plan a proposed 2014 joint conference in Buenos Aires with 4S and its Latin American counterpart ESOCITE.
The June 17-19, 2011 Buenos Aires workshop featured a balance of about 10 representatives from each association distributed across two sub-committees. Over an opening and closing plenary and various breakout sessions in between, we managed to set out the key objectives that we wanted this 4S/ESOCITE 2014 pre-meeting and book initiative to achieve. First, the sub-committee responsible for the first objective estimated that a 2014 joint conference could attract up to 500 ESOCITE and 700 4S members for a total of 1200 attendees.
Nicholas C. Mullins Award—Call for Nominations
Updated: March 18 2011The Nicholas C. Mullins prize is awarded each year by the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) for an outstanding piece of scholarship by a graduate student in the field of Science and Technology Studies. The winner receives a check for $US 1,000 and a plaque. The submission deadline is September 1, 2011. To submit a paper, send a PDF or Word file of the paper (or a functioning URL where it can be accessed). For further details on submission guidelines, please see the Mullins Prize page on the 4S website: http://www.4sonline.org/prizes/mullins.
Members of the 2011 Mullins Award Committee are:
Laurel Smith-Doerr, Committee Chair
University of Nairobi
University of Southern Indiana