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Reflections

Commentary on the current and future state of the field or subfields within science and technology studies. Can include interviews, meditations on particular concepts or methods, biography / autobiography, essays, and other more personal and less formal writings.

African cities in the changing global landscape

Prince K. Guma / 21 November, 2017

"Questions need to be posed as to how we ought to (dis)associate and (dis)connect from/with dominant and inextricable narratives, imaginaries and dichotomies if we must accurately subsume the African city within the increasingly dislocated global present. We have to ask what the possibilities, opportunities and prospects are for cities evidently ready – or at least positioned – to (re)assert themselves within this apparent state of global precarity and reconfiguration."

Silenced Issues 5| Coming to Terms with the Colorblindness of Contemporary STS

Michael Mascarenhas / 15 November, 2017

title "White privilege abounds in STS. We need to look no further than our STS departments and programs." Michael Mascarenhas unmasks the "white spaces in the black box" of contemporary STS.

Engendering Alice and Bob

Quinn DuPont and Alana Cattapan / 09 October, 2017

title Quinn DuPont and Alana Cattapan critically engage with the fictional characters of Alice and Bob. Characters that are meant to convey complex concepts – and thereby represent and reinforce gender norms in fields where women are already few.

The Space Between with Elina Mäkinen

Aleka Gurel / 03 October, 2017

Dr. Elina Mäkinen discusses her recent ST&HV article, "Action in the Space Between: From Latent to Active Boundaries."

Editorial Director Ken Wissoker on why he loves peer review

Ken Wissoker / 02 October, 2017

title While scholars are researching, they want to find all the evidence they can. When we are reading, if we are convinced by the first example, we rarely need to see three more. Writing—and even sharing one’s writing in a writing group or with a writing partner—is very local, focused on a chapter or section at a time. It’s hard to have a sense of rhythm and pacing and flow; hard to see the whole. The review process is the moment to step back and benefit from generous and invested colleagues willing to read with and for you, to give you the feedback that makes the path more intuitive and well-paced for future readers.

A Yolngu matha translation for 4S Sydney

Michaela Spencer / 11 September, 2017

title Michaela Spencer reports back on her experience of creating with Yirriṉiṉba ‘Yinin’ Dhurrkay an abstract in Aboriginal language – and a potential opening within 4S for Yolngu epistemic sensibilities to be listened to and respected.

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

Aleka Gurel / 09 August, 2017

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

David Banks / 01 August, 2017

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.

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

Jess Auerbach / 20 July, 2017

It’s not often that you get to create a new university from scratch: space, staff – and curriculum. But that’s exactly what we’re doing in Mauritius, at one of Africa’s newest higher education institutions. And decoloniality is central to our work.

AI’s Prediction Problem

Steve G. Hoffman / 04 July, 2017

Artificial Intelligence is finding hype again. Big money has arrived from Google, Elon Musk, and the Chinese government. AlphaGo’s victories over world class Go players make splashy headlines far beyond the pages of IEEE Transactions. Yet in the shadows of the feeding frenzy, a familiar specter haunts. Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking echo the worries of doomsayer futurists by fretting over the rise of superintelligent machines that might see humanity as obsolete impediments to their algorithmic optimization.

Leon Olivé or the citizen philosopher

Mónica Lozano / 20 June, 2017

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. This text renders a posthumous homage to science philosopher and to the teacher, through presenting what, in my judgment, is one of his main contributions: to discuss the role of science and technology in Latin America from a perspective on multiculturalism

Undoing the Ontology of the Poor: A Participatory Design Project

Mariacristina Sciannamblo and Maurizio Teli / 30 May, 2017

title Mariacristina Sciannamblo, Maurizio Teli unpack the political implications of social science methods in their co-producing understandings of poverty and the polices that seek to counteract it. In an participatory design approach the "Commonfare" project rethinks – and critically engages with – the ontological politics of these population categorizations.

Is STS All Talk and No Walk? Steve Fuller

James H. Collier / 22 May, 2017

title Of course, STSers are free to contest any individual or group that they find politically undesirable—but on political, not methodological grounds. We should not be quick to fault undesirables for ‘misusing’ our insights, let alone apologize for, self-censor or otherwise restrict our own application of these insights, which lay at the heart of Latour’s (2004) notorious mea culpa. On the contrary, we should defer to Oscar Wilde and admit that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. STS has enabled the undesirables to raise their game, and if STSers are too timid to function as partisans in their own right, they could try to help the desirables raise their game in response.

Silenced Issues 4: (Un-)Silencing Issues in Thinking Through Environmental Data

Leo Matteo Bachinger / 08 May, 2017

title In the fourth entry to our ongoing series Leo Bachinger reflects the different ways in which he experiences how data is used to silence – but also "un-silence" – issues around environmental governance and Climate Change.

Researching Sprawling ‘Mobile’ Infrastructures in Nairobi

Prince K. Guma / 28 April, 2017

title Software development, mobile-enabled infrastructural engagements, and the mobile money market are increasingly becoming key signifiers of Nairobi’s identity. Nairobi’s unfettered innovation vivacity is not exceptional, however. Nairobi only serves as a reflection of the extent to which African cities are becoming increasingly synonymous with new formations caused in part by the emergent reliance on mobile media, devices and technologies in the everyday life.
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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.