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.
Report-backs / Alison MarlinAlison Marlin uses two ethnographic encounters with rocks – by Helen Verran and Sophia Roosth – to reflect on the stories these seemingly unlively objects may hold.
Reflections / Aleka GurelProfessor 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."
Reflections / David BanksInverse 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.
Report-backs / Madeleine PapeMadeleine 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.
Reviews / Dr Jonathan SilverAccording 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.
Reflections / Jess AuerbachIt’s not often that you get to create a new university from scratch.
Projects / Amanda WindleThe 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.
Reflections / Steve G. HoffmanIs prediction in AI a fool's errand?
Report-backs / Evelyn RuppertAs 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.
Reflections / Mónica LozanoOn 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.
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.