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

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.

STGlobal Consortium: By students, for students

Mel Jeske and Derek Parrott / 23 May, 2016

The STGlobal Consortium is a growing graduate student-run conference. This year's co-chairs, Melanie Jeske and Derek Parrot, describe what happened at STGlobal 2016, and report on initiatives to expand the scope of the community.

‘A Conference with Extraordinary Films’ – Ethnografilm returns to Paris

Lizzie Sayer / 11 May, 2016

title There are about 100 films in this year’s festival, with footage shot in several dozen countries. It’s a really global festival. In 2016 we’re also making a film for the International Year of Global Understanding – we’ve asked directors to select a section of their film that they think best represents global understanding. A lot of our film-makers are academics, and we have a special category for academic features. Overall there’s a huge variety of non-fiction films. We’ve even shown animations that represent stories from research. There isn’t a theme as such, but I guess you could say that we show ‘films for the people’. Quite a lot of the films this year are about political activism, but that’s not why they were selected – they were selected because of their approach to film-making.

Moments, Movements, Scores: Reflections on Workshopping Ethnography

Yelena Gluzman / 26 April, 2016

title In recent years, design practices have been taken up as a way to explore alternative methods for ethnography. Here, I report on a different approach. At a recent ethnography workshop held by the Collaboratory of Ethnographic Design at UC Davis, organizers moved away from the materials of design and drew instead from the methods of theater.

III Encuentro de la Red CTS-Chile

Gloria Baigorrotegui, Juan Felipe Espinoza & Martín Pérez Comisso / 14 March, 2016

title During the 13 to 15 of January it was held, at the School of Business at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso, the Third Meeting of the STS-Chilean Network. Given the public uprisings that have taken place since 2011 in Chile, and given the new forms of collective action seen in our country, we agreed to convene the meeting under the theme "Citizenship, Collective, Knowledge and Power: Achievements and Challenges for Science, Technology and Society Studies.

A forum on the Zika virus

Sudeepa Abeysinghe, Luciana Brondi, Ian Harper, Hannah Lesshafft, Lucy Lowe, Alex Nading and Ting Ting Shum / 29 February, 2016

title On February 4, 2016, the Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology (EdCMA) held a roundtable discussion chaired by Ian Harper, director of the EdCMA and Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator, in order to unpack and better understand the various issues at stake in the current global health crisis. Five speakers examined Zika and its implications from differing perspectives. Of particular concern for the roundtable was to address how social scientists may approach the issues at stake. Here we present slightly edited versions of the roundtable presentations, as well as a summary of the discussion that followed.

STS Underground: Images from an Emerging Subfield

Abby Kinchy and Roopali Phadke / 22 February, 2016

title Societies around the world today are grappling with two confounding questions: “Should we dig here?” and “How should we reclaim the surface of this land?” These problems fall into the domain of STS because, as each presentation in the STS Underground sessions at 4S 2015 demonstrated, deciding where to dig and how to reclaim the surface involves technoscientific processes that remain largely unexamined.

Apuntes desde EXPLORA-CONICYT y la visibilidad de la ciencia y tecnología escolar en Latinoamérica

Gloria Baigorrotegui / 18 January, 2016

title Children and young people from schools throughout Chile and school representatives from three Latin American countries: Mexico, Peru and Argentina met from 24 to 26 November 2015 in the city of Valparaiso to present their scientific projects in the final of the XVI School National Congress of Science and Technology. 53 projects were selected in three categories: i) Natural Sciences, ii) Research in engineering and technology and iii) Social Sciences. Gloria Baigorrotegui tells us her experience as an external evaluator of this initiative.

A construção de uma rede de engenharia popular

Rede de Engenharia Popular Oswaldo Sevá / 14 December, 2015

title The engineering subject is rarely connected with issues such as inequality, poverty, alternative development projects and society. The connections, however, are many and very important. Brazil is an unequal country, where much of the population has no access to basic rights such as housing, sanitation, etc. But these are not the only difficulties these people face. Lack of access to public universities, to the engineering courses and to developed technologies are added to the immense challenges that poor people, on the outskirts of the cities or the countryside, have faced daily.

Revisando la universidad

Fabian Prieto / 16 November, 2015

title Over two years, the Learning to see systems group has worked in an interdisciplinary approach around the question of how to make visible the values and epistemologies embedded in scientific and technological complex systems. With this ambitious goal, teachers and students have followed a path that connected communication studies, art history, social studies of science and technology and artistic practice. Learning to see system emerged in 2013 from a proposal endorsed by the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, within the program INTERSECT. Under the leadership of Kevin Hamilton, Professor of Art and Design, the group made progress in its discussions from a curriculum that included four doctoral level courses and participation in workshops designed by the group itself. This is the case of the workshop "Revising the University", which had place on May 27, 2015.

IV Escuela Doctoral Iberoamericana de Estudios Sociales y Políticos sobre la Ciencia y la Tecnología

Sandra Daza-Caicedo / 14 September, 2015

title Between July 7 and 10, 2015, it took place at the University of Valparaiso (Chile) the IV Ibero-American Doctoral School of Social Studies on Science and Technology ,organized by the Latin American Society for Social Studies of Science and Technology ESOCITE. Twentyseven doctoral students from Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia and Mexico attended the School. The meeting was sponsored by the Red CYTED (Ibero-American Science and Technology for Development) "Analysis on the Dynamics of Science and Society", CLACSO Working Group "Science and society: the social uses of knowledge Latin America and social inclusion", University of Chile, University of La Frontera and the host institution, the University of Valparaiso.

Tecnologías en Zonas de Conflicto: Una Mirada desde el Contexto Latinoamericano

Karla Palma / 24 August, 2015

title In this post Karla Palma shares with us the reflections of a group of scholars studying STS in Latin America and specially about the role of technology in areas of conflict. These reflections are materialized in the "Computing in Zones of Conflict: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Latin America" panel. Which was presented in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the framework of the conference of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA). The main question which guided the meeting was, what the connection points are between our research agendas in relation to study of technologies in Latin America? from the beginning, we recognized that our work takes place in areas where there are latent social conflicts, covering areas such as neo extractivism, militarization, drug trafficking, or the marginalization of non-dominant memories, but what else can we visualize from these spaces?
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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.