More STS Radio

7 03 2008


In Our Time

Big Ideas

Philosopher’s Zone


[Via Jeremy Hunsinger and the STSGrad mailing list]


STS Radio

3 03 2008

Does a radio show featuring Bruno Latour, Ulrich Beck, Simon Shaffer, Ian Hacking, Andrew Pickering, and Brian Wynne sound interesting? If you do, check out the How to Think About Science podcast series.

If science is neither cookery, nor angelic virtuosity, then what is it?
Modern societies have tended to take science for granted as a way of knowing, ordering and controlling the world. Everything was subject to science, but science itself largely escaped scrutiny. This situation has changed dramatically in recent years. Historians, sociologists, philosophers and sometimes scientists themselves have begun to ask fundamental questions about how the institution of science is structured and how it knows what it knows. David Cayley talks to some of the leading lights of this new field of study.


Copy-Paste Culture

29 02 2008

I’ve sometimes wondered whether there is any credence to if we live in a copy paste culture which is changing the way we produce and relate to texts. Now there seems to be evicence that indeed we are. According to Microsoft the single most used command in Office is Paste!

Windows Office team learned that paste is the most-used command in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (accounting for 11%, 15%, and 12% (respectively) of all commands issued in each application).

This could be something for the RIAA.

Via the Mac Office Team blog.

Open and International ISI?

18 12 2007

Open access journals can be compared to musicians who release their music on myspace or on the Pirate Bay. Rather than being locked into copyrights owned by large corporations, open access content flows free. This seems to be a growing movement in academia that aims to circumvent the publishing houses that have made academic publishing big business.

The question is when ISI ranking will be replaced with an open alternative, perhaps taking into account several types of data like the 0xdb for movies. Currently, according to Wikipedia, there are a billion English speakers on a “basic” level, hopefully such an index might allow “international” to be broadened to include the 400 million native Spanish speakers (600 million if you count the Portuguese speakers who could probably decipher Spanish), or the billion+ that can read Chinese characters. Why English should be the only lingua franca of academia is a good question.

See: Open access in STS or On Academic Productivity

Academic Production

15 12 2007

Alf Rehn over at Text Sushi has been thinking about academic productivity lately, on one hand he rants on writing books , on the other he wants assistants to do it…

Sarcasm aside, I think these two posts really capture the risks with the publish or perish system. If every academic has to increase their research output there is bound to be people finding ways to circumvent the system: publishing with a mulittude of authors, makings students and assistants do your job, recycling the same ideas in different articles.

The increasing pressure to publish isn’t really an increasing pressure to research… It’s an increasing pressure to find creative ways to publish. Fordist research production… I’m thinking “Word Research Article Plugin”: File -> Export -> Article or “It looks like you’re writing a scholarly article? Do you want to start the Article Wizard.”

60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

6 12 2007

On monday the UN 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 starts.

I’ve been thinking about human rights for a time. Can human rights be universal? Can a single set of rights be valid in different cultures?

On one hand my social-liberal side wants to say “of course”, there are some rights which are universal and must be accepted by everyone everywhere. On the other hand I also feel that the thought of a universal rule about human conduct is absurd: values and judgments change over time and space.

This conflict between local and universal is often a burning problem in discussions on Islamic head coverings and secular western culture. I heard an interview on Swedish radio with an Egyptian feminist scholar who argued that head coverings were a matter of fashion, deep belief and choice — not something that could be defined by secular law. The Burka or Niqab really poses a crucial question in relation to human rights. Which rules are to be obeyed? The religious customs, protected by article 2, or secular Egyptian laws preventing the use of head coverings.

The problem is that the rules set forth in the universal declaration are contradictory: the freedom of religion sometimes stands in opposition to, for example, equality before the law. This illuminates a basic problem of stating that the declaration is universal — it is written from the point of view of values from a certain time and place.

But what is the alternative? Often I believe some kind of situated pragmatism is called for, where local conditions are weighed against the universal. But this also denies the power of creating a Universal law valid for everyone.

Literature Seminar in Stockholm: Andrew Barry, Political Machines

1 12 2007

Here is an invitation to a literature seminar at the Royal Institute of Technology. For the English speakers: sorry about the language.


Per-Anders Forstorp, docent och lektor i kommunikation på CSC kommer att
inleda diskussionen framförallt kring det första kapitlet i boken.

Tid: Torsdag 6 december 2007, kl. 14-16
Plats: Torget, Lindstedtsvägen 5, plan 6, Skolan för datavetenskap och
kommunikation, KTH


Teknik- och vetenskapsstudier (STS) har utvecklats under de senaste
trettio åren med ett fokus särskilt på aktörerna i innovationsprocesser
och de politiska frågor som väcks i samband med dessa. Ofta har teknologin
och det politiska kommit att skiljas åt, men det är mycket som talar för
att analyser bör utvecklas där de studeras tillsammans: teknologi och
politik bör ses som integrerade i varandra. I sin bok Political Machines:
Governing a Technological Society (2001), argumenterar den brittiske
kulturgeografen och sociologen Andrew Barry för detta men även för att den
politiska analysen inte bara skall äga rum i anslutning till politiska
institutioner och identiteter, utan också i anslutning till den nya
tekniken. Han fokuserar på en mängd olika saker som är “inskrivna” i
teknologin, t ex nätverkande, nya medier, interaktivitet, standardisering,
teknologiska risker, etc. genom att kombinera olika forskningsfält som
kulturgeografi, politisk sociologi och antropologiska studier av teknik
har Barry initierat ett nytt och viktigt fält inom forskningen där det
analytiska objektet är teknik/politik i dess integrerade form.