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Reports and commentary from meetings, workshops, and seminars of interest to the STS community, with images and other media.

The Anthropocene in Chile: notes from an experimental thinkshop

Manuel Tironi / 28 August, 2017

Between 27th and 28th of April, fifteen scholars and practitioners gathered at the UC Marine Costal Research Station in Las Cruces for the two-day thinkshop El Antropoceno en Chile: desafíos actuales, futuros posibles (“The Anthropocene in Chile: current challenges, possible futures”). Organized by Cristián Simonetti and myself as an experimental exercise, the meeting was exceptionally stimulating –and challenging.

Provincializing STS: an EASTS Forum on how East Asia complicates the STS Landscape

Wen-Hua Kuo / 23 August, 2017

East Asian Science, Technology and Society: an International Journal (EASTS) is delighted to present a forum featuring the 2015 Bernal Prize winner John Law. An EASTS advisory editor, Law delivered his acceptance speech at the 4S annual meeting on the structure of an article entitled “Provincializing STS: Postcoloniality, Symmetry, and Method,” co-authored with EASTS editor Wen-yuan Lin. Using the ‘symmetry’ principle, Law and Lin challenged the normal “Western” framework by experimenting with “non-Western” concepts as analytical tools.

Doing ethnography of and with rocks

Alison Marlin / 10 August, 2017

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.

In the Moment: Notes from a Graduate Student Conference

Madeleine Pape / 25 July, 2017

title The graduate student conference “Science, Technology, and the Politics of Knowledge in Global Affairs”, held in March, provided participants with the benefits that come from a small conference: just eighteen presenters, six faculty discussants, and keynote speaker Sheila Jasanoff. Madeleine Pape asked the three organizers – Savina Balasubramanian, Omri Tubi, and Kevin Baker – to share their insights in organizing such an event.

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

Evelyn Ruppert / 27 June, 2017

title Noortje Marres began by noting that her final manuscript was submitted shortly after the Brexit vote and Trump election, which have sparked considerable debate on the role of social media, data analysis tools to detect fake news and new forms of blocking manipulative content. What is the relation of these two events to her book? She argued that these are piecemeal technical solutions that do not go to the heart of the problem. 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. It is this value and logic that digital sociology attends to, of how knowledge generation is a social process rather than narrowly behaviorist or configured by individual platforms. Marres’ understanding of social logics is at the heart of her book and each panelist took this up in different ways.

Revealing fact and reinforcing faith: Gravitational waves and religion in India

Joseph Satish V / 30 March, 2017

title The detection of gravitational waves is significant for it strengthens astronomers’ ability to observe some of the earliest cosmic processes - including events that followed the Big Bang. It was only expected therefore, that the age-old question of the tumultuous relationship between science and religion entered the picture yet again. An opportunity to reflect upon these questions was the International Symposium on "The Discovery of Gravitational Waves and the Future of Religion and Society" held in Pune, India from January 20-23, 2017. The event was jointly organized by the Indian Institute of Science and Religion (IISR), Delhi and the Centre for Science and Religion Studies of Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth (JDV), Pune.

Call for Nominations: 6S Representatives Deadline 4/30!

Posted by Madeleine Pape and Amanda Windle on behalf of 6S / 20 March, 2017

title Elected representatives lead the student section of 4S (6S) and represent students on the 4S Council. They are elected in the spring/summer, for a term that lasts approximately 3 years. While they are not expected to attend the 4S meeting during the year in which they were elected, they are expected to attend the meeting (including the 4S Council meeting) during the two subsequent years of their term.
6S Representatives must demonstrate characteristics of leadership, management, and organizational skills, interest and enthusiasm in serving as 6S representative, and maintain good academic standing in their graduate program.

IV Encuentro CTS-Chile. Cartografías líquidas y territorios Sociotécnicos.

Gloria Baigorrotegui / 22 February, 2017

title Between January 18 and 20, 2017 the STS Chilean community met at the Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia.

Segundo Congreso Argentino de Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia y la Tecnología

Diego Aguiar / 23 January, 2017

title La organización del encuentro tuvo el desafío de situar 225 ponencias, ordenadas en 40 mesas temáticas con expositores, no sólo de Argentina, sino también de México, Brasil, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia y España. Sus coordinadores destacaron la calidad de los numerosos trabajos y las provechosas discusiones que suscitaron.

Graduate Student Organization 6S Recaps Barcelona Adventures

Erika Szymanski and Margarita Rayzberg / 24 October, 2016

6S, the graduate student organization of 4S, recaps their many activities and programs held during the 4S/EEAST conference in Barcelona. With new initiatives--and a brand new Facebook page--6S organizers are pursuing ways to promote broad participation.

Michael Lynch / Part II: That Delicate Balance

Michael Lynch in conversation with Lucy Suchman / 29 September, 2016

title Michael Lynch was awarded the 2016 Bernal Prize for his important contribution to science and technology studies. Here, in Part II of his conversation with 4S President Lucy Suchman, Lynch speaks about his early work and looks ahead to future projects.

Michael Lynch / Part I: Coming of Age

Michael Lynch in conversation with Lucy Suchman / 27 September, 2016

title Michael Lynch was awarded the 2016 Bernal Prize for his important contribution to science and technology studies. Here, in dialogue with 4S President Lucy Suchman, he reflects on his, and the field's, coming of age. Check back later this week for Parts II and III of their conversation.

Reflexões do workshop brasileiro sobre Mudanças Climáticas e Estudos Sociais da Ciência e Tecnologia

Jean Hochsprung Miguel / 19 September, 2016

title A growing number of Brazilian and South American research groups have been exploring the links between science and technology and climate policy. Informal networks have been set up and culminated in the Workshop on Climate Change, Technoscience and Society, which took place in April 11 and 12 at the University of Campinas (State of São Paulo, Brazil). The main objective of this meeting was to bring together STS researchers interested in the production of climate knowledge from South American perspectives. The meeting enabled a diagnosis of emergent initiatives of the Brazilian ans South American scientific communities and governmental institutions for responding the social and scientific challenges posed by climate change.

Seminário de Estudos Latino-Americanos e Pós-Coloniais de CTS

Tiago Ribeiro Duarte and Luis Reyes-Galindo / 15 August, 2016

title The Workshop on Latin-American and Postcolonial STS took place at the University of Brasília, Brazil, from 18th to 20th of May. It was organised by Dr. Tiago Ribeiro Duarte (University of Brasília) and Dr. Luis Reyes-Galindo (Cardiff University) to get scholars from Brazil and other countries in Latin America together to debate through the presentation of empirical case studies what is specific about doing STS research in Latin American contexts and what theoretical/methodological approaches are more promising for researching science and technology in this continent. The workshop had the prestigious feminist and post-colonial scholar Prof. Sandra Harding as its keynote speaker and had sessions on Ontologies and STS in Latin America, Postcolonial STS studies, and the Science/policy interface in Latin America. The event brought together 15 speakers from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and the US. It was a great success, with exciting presentations and lively debates. Around 250 people attended Prof. Harding´s keynote speech and from 60 to 100 people attended each particular session.

What is data interoperation “made of”?

David Ribes / 01 August, 2016

title These scientists were pained with the recognition that their fields would soon, if not already, need to make institutional level commitments about what data should be kept and which should be thrown away or allowed to degrade. They were faced with making decisions about which specific datasets, amongst the troves in all disciplines, to allocate limited resources to for their preservation and interoperation. And they were concerned that the potential advantages of data reuse would be coupled with the dangers of unpredictable future trajectories. I came away from this meeting heartened. Here I had found only hints of once prevalent archival naïvetés. In this sense it seems that STS and other scholars of data sharing, preservation and interoperation have been successful in spreading their understandings that these goals are hard, fraught and consequential, rather than easy, simple and a unilateral good. It appears that, within this group at least, technological solutionism has waned. That the arguments of those that have sought to articulate data's dangers and consequences are, at least, familiar.
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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.