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Backchannels

Linguists first used the term backchannel to refer to the spontaneous responses and signals that provide interactivity to what is only apparently a one-way communication. Social media users have adopted the term to refer to the unofficial, multi-directional online conversation that parallels formal academic exchange at a lecture or conference. The Backchannels blog is intended to have a similar relationship to scholarly discourse in STS. It provides an outlet for alternative-format scholarly communications, publishing shorter, timelier, media-rich communiques of interest to the global STS community. The editors welcome proposed contributions.

Doing ethnography of and with rocks

Report-backs / Alison Marlin

title Alison Marlin uses two ethnographic encounters with rocks – by Helen Verran and Sophia Roosth – to reflect on the stories these seemingly unlively objects may hold.

Self-driving cars with Nassim JafariNaimi: New Research in ST&HV

Reflections / Aleka Gurel

Professor Nassim JafariNaimi discusses her recent ST&HV article, "Our Bodies in the Trolley’s Path, or Why Self-driving Cars Must *Not* Be Programmed to Kill."

We are all Eric Cartman now

Reflections / David Banks

title Inverse has a short thing about the precipitous decline of reported close encounters with extra-terrestrials following the widespread adoption of smartphones. Author Ryan Britt asks, “How come there have been fewer reports of flying saucers and alien abductions in the age of the camera phone?” David Banks finds in his contribution to "Cyborgology" another answer.

In the Moment: Notes from a Graduate Student Conference

Report-backs / Madeleine Pape

title Madeleine Pape asked the three organizers – Savina Balasubramanian, Omri Tubi, and Kevin Baker – of the graduate conference "Science, Technology, and the Politics of Knowledge" to share their insights in organizing such an event.

Book Review: Cotton and Race Across the Atlantic: Britain, Africa, and America, 1900-1920

Reviews / Dr Jonathan Silver

According to Jonathan Silver, "Cotton and Race Across the Atlantic" makes a significant contribution to the global history of cotton and our understandings about the long durée of capitalism.

What a new university in Africa is doing to decolonise social sciences

Reflections / Jess Auerbach

It’s not often that you get to create a new university from scratch.

Dis—ease with X and Y: Disclosing Digital Sociology

Projects / Amanda Windle

title The move to larger corporate social media groups did disrupt some of these grassroots support networks specifically when their digital infrastructures shifted during the noughties. Someone with UC-CD doesn’t always need their mood creepily enhanced by an algorithm on Facebook, but may appreciate some of the roaming mental health bots on Twitter.

AI’s Prediction Problem

Reflections / Steve G. Hoffman

Is prediction in AI a fool's errand?

Book Launch, Digital Sociology: The Reinvention of Social Research by Noortje Marres

Report-backs / Evelyn Ruppert

title As much research has shown, communities amongst which fake news circulates are separate from the platforms and their mitigating technical services. What technical solutions do not address is that sharing is a logic underpinning digital platforms and from which their social value is derived.

Leon Olivé or the citizen philosopher

Reflections / Mónica Lozano

title On February 10, 2017, the philosopher and mathematician Leon Olivé died in Mexico, one of the most important contemporary Mexican thinkers and a reference in Latin America for philosophical and social studies on science and technology.

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Reflections

Self-driving cars with Nassim JafariNaimi: New Research in ST&HV
We are all Eric Cartman now
What a new university in Africa is doing to decolonise social sciences
AI’s Prediction Problem

Report-backs

Doing ethnography of and with rocks
In the Moment: Notes from a Graduate Student Conference
Book Launch, Digital Sociology: The Reinvention of Social Research by Noortje Marres
Revealing fact and reinforcing faith: Gravitational waves and religion in India

Projects

Dis—ease with X and Y: Disclosing Digital Sociology
How migrant registration infrastructures co-produce citizens, institutions and territory
Developing New STS Minors: The Case of Cal Poly
4S Preview: Engaging STS Studies for Inclusive Development

Reviews

Book Review: Cotton and Race Across the Atlantic: Britain, Africa, and America, 1900-1920
Renewable energy for STS scholarship: the Handbook of Science and Technology Studies
Betwixt and Between Augmentation and Automation: Some Reflections after Watching “Sully”
‘Hard’ Surveillance and ‘Soft’ Surveillance: The Quantified Self at Work

Backchannels Editors

Tania Pérez-Bustos, Chair, 4S Web Committee

Steven Jackson, Journals and conferences

Assistant Editors: Aleka Gurel, Yelena Gluzman

Gloria Baigorrotegui, Reviews, reblogs, and STS commentary from Asia, Africa & Latin America

Assistant Editors: Fredy Mora-Gámez, Prince Guma, Joseph Satish

Amanda Windle, Reviews, reblogs, and STS commentary from North America, Europe, and Australia

Assistant Editors: Leo Matteo Bachinger, Madeleine Pape

Anita Chan, Conference Blog Editor

For contact information, see the Editorial Guidelines page.