New issue of Journal of Science Communication

June 2011 issue of JCOM – Journal of Science Communication – (issue 2, volume 10) is online.

Plenty of fodder for blogging! Let me know if you comment on any of these papers.

Where is public communication of science going?

We have published this issue of JCOM while the call for papers is open for the twelfth Public Communication of Science and Technology conference. The biennial meeting will be held in April 2012 and for the first time in Italy: the hosting city in Florence. The 2012 edition of the PCST conference is being held after more than twenty years of growth of the network of scholars that founded it and the expansion of its boundaries outside the European context from which it was created. JCOM is a part of this network, made up not only of individuals but also of organisations, university departments, journals, national conferences and so on.

Science as theatre: a New Zealand history of performances and exhibitions

In colonial times in New Zealand the portrayal of science to the public had a sense of theatre, with nineteenth and early twentieth century grand exhibitions of a new nation’s resources and its technological achievements complemented by spectacular public lectures and demonstrations by visitors from overseas and scientific ‘showmen’. However, from 1926 to the mid-1990s there were few public displays of scientific research and its applications, corresponding to an inward-looking science regime presided over by the Government science agency, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The subsequent development of science centres with their emphasis on visitor participation has led to an increase in the audience for science and a revival of theatricality in presentation of exhibitions, demonstration lectures, café scientifiques, and science-related activities.

What are the features of non-expert opinions on regenerative medicine? Opinion analysis of workshop participants

Regenerative medicine (RM) has the potential to strongly impact on society. To determine non-experts’ impressions of RM, we analyzed opinions obtained from workshops in which participants freely discussed RM. Three major features were apparent. First, non-experts were most concerned with the possible effects of RM after it has been fully realized in society. Second, non-experts expressed concerns not only about RM itself, but also about the governance and operation of the technology. Third, non-experts were not only concerned about direct influences of RM, but also about its potential indirect influences. These identified features are likely to be controversial issues when RM is introduced into society. It is important to promote early discussion of these issues by society as a whole.

From journal to headline: the accuracy of climate science news in Danish high quality newspapers

A significant number of mass media news stories on climate change quote scientific publications. However, the journalistic process of popularizing scientific research regarding climate change has been profoundly criticized for being manipulative and inaccurate. This preliminary study used content analysis to examine the accuracy of Danish high quality newspapers in quoting scientific publications from 1997 to 2009. Out of 88 articles, 46 contained inaccuracies though the majority was found to be insignificant and random. The study concludes that Danish broadsheet newspapers are ‘moderately inaccurate’ in quoting science publications but are not deliberately hyping scientific claims. However, the study also shows that 11% contained confusion of source, meaning that statements originating from press material or other news outlets were incorrectly credited to scientific peer-reviewed publications.

Science and the Internet: be fruitful and multiply?

What role and citizenship has the scientific thought on the web, or rather on the social side of the web? Does it benefit from the debate between peers and with the general public, or else does it only risk to become a monologue? How to deal with the number of instruments the Internet is able to provide in making, discussing and disseminating research? These are some of the questions tackled by the reflections from scholars and experts which were the basis for our debate.

The Internet phenomenon

The Internet has become a worldwide phenomenon. It is undeniable that the Net has forcefully entered everyday life, ceasing to be a useful tool only for a small circle of researchers and academics, to become a new and versatile means of mass communication. And measuring Internet access and calculating the number of Internet users is not easy. By using the domain names registered in the “.it” as an endogenous metric, the Institute of Informatics and Telematics of the Italian National Research Council (IIT-CNR) carried out a research on Internet diffusion in Italy taking into account some major categories of users (enterprises, non-profit organizations, individuals, professionals and public bodies) and territorial distribution (nation, macro-area, region and province). This research has made it possible to carry out an initial analysis of the digital divide in Italy.

Access to news on line: myths, risks and facts

Although the debates on the Internet (sceptical, enthusiastic and finally more mature ones) in our country started in the mid 90s, it is only over the past few years that the Internet, especially thanks to social networks, has become a daily practice for millions of Italians. Television still is the main medium to spread information, but as it becomes increasingly cross-bred with the Internet (and other media too), the information-spreading process deeply changes. This creates, also in our country, the preconditions for the development of a web public (an active and connected one), founded on the new practices of multitasking and participatory information.

Social networks, a populated picture

Man, by his very nature, puts things between himself and the environment, turning the latter into a place, a space. He arranges the environment around him on multiple levels, by projecting parts of himself and shaping the frontiers and the horizons that surround, define and represent him. This was learnt a long time ago, but a trace and a memory remain in the way man acts: when mapping reality (both physical reality and the reality explored through digital means), we observe it and find a way through it by adopting behaviours that have always been similar. What has changed in this mapping is the ability to recognise, especially the ability to interpret maps and creatively work them.

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