Run your fingers gently along a surface, maybe your sleeve or the table in front of you. What does it feel like? And what does that experience feel like? How do you understand it? This is the essence of “qualia” ie those immediate, subjective experiential qualities of consciousness. It is the “raw” feel, not the cooked. A camera may “see” an image but what is the experience of seeing an image like? What is the difference between your experience of an image and that of the camera? Those experiential qualities might be called “qualia” The term comes from the Latin “qualis” which … Continue reading The Qualia of Science Communication
In recent years the idea of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has become an increasingly familiar part of the research and innovation landscape. In some cases the idea has even been translated into practice – although the extent to which such RRI practice has been successful is, to my mind, something that has yet to be determined. Elsewhere I have sketched the RRI landscape, now I want to put some figures in that picture to give some idea of what it is like to implement RRI in different institutions. To do this I want to draw on the “Alchemical Workshop” … Continue reading RRI: Figures in a landscape
Over the past twenty years there have been increasing calls for dialogue and engagement between science and the public. A “broader approach” and a new perspective was needed. In my book I suggest that a Critical Understanding of Science in Public (or CUSP) was a way to encapsulate that approach. What follows is mostly an extract from the book. The main features of this new perspective are: it is multidirectional: no longer is science seen simply as diffusing downwards but in communication circuits and webs all points feed into and off eachother. it is contextual: concerned not just with the … Continue reading CUSP: the Critical Understanding of Science in Public
Hello? Are you there? We all know that science communication is more than the efficient transfer of information. My own work and this blog, for example, emphasise the need to understand how meanings are constructed in different contexts. But for now, let’s keep it simple and put aside all that contextual, critical, cultural studies gunf. The common sense model of communication is, after all, common sense and it is one which is readily acceptable to many scientists – not least because it serves their own interests. So, keep it simple. Communication is the transfer of information from A to B. … Continue reading Sci-comm Comfort Noise
And then the thought struck me, we could use alchemy to improve conferences….. Conferences come in all shapes and sizes. Some are so large they are more like conventions or trade fairs, others not much more than a group of friends scheduling their coffee breaks in a different city. What they nearly all have in common are the same tired old formats (panels, plenaries, poster sessions etc). “Workshops” are often not much different except with added post-it notes. I was recently in a meeting helping to organise a conference and wanted to move beyond the same old same old. Also … Continue reading The Alchemical Conference
What is this thing called “science communication”? Is it a subject upon which we focus our attention and activities? Or is it a field in which those activities take place? Field or focus? This is not just navel-gazing. How we see ourselves will shape not only what we do but also how we do it and why. In November I was privileged to be part of a specially invited group of 22 practitioners and researchers from 15 different countries meeting in the lakeside resort of Bellagio in Italy to set new directions for science communication. As part of its wide-ranging … Continue reading What is this thing called science communication?
The world of science communication may be at a turning point. Over the past thirty years other disciplines have taken a “cultural turn”. My hope is that science communication does the same. In the 1980s I came to science communication through a cultural analysis of Victorian and Edwardian mass media. This cultural approach has stayed with me ever since and, I believe, continues to be a missing key element in current approaches to science communication. Understanding culture is more than surveys of behaviours and attitudes. Our concerns should be with the ways that meanings are created and circulated within a … Continue reading Science Communication: a cultural turn