Journal of Science Communication

Print ISSN: 1824-2049
Publications
Modern society has led many people to become consumers of data unlike previous generations. How this shift in the way information is communicated and received - including in areas of science - and affects perception and comprehension is still an open question. This study examined one aspect of this digital age: perceptions of astronomical images and their labels, on mobile platforms. Participants were n = 2183 respondents to an online survey, and two focus groups (n = 12 astrophysicists; n = 11 lay public). Online participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 12 images, and compared two label formats. Focus groups compared mobile devices and label formats. Results indicated that the size and quality of the images on the mobile devices affected label comprehension and engagement. The question label format was significantly preferred to the fun fact. Results are discussed in terms of effective science communication using technology.
 
Distribution des chercheurs selon le nombre d'actions moyen sur une année donnée. Ainsi, environ 70% des chercheurs ne font aucune action une année donnée. 
Nombre d'actions moyen de vulgarisation en fonction de l'âge. 
Nombre d'actions de vulgarisation en fonction du grade (moyenne 2004--2005) 
We have analyzed the popularization activities undertaken by ten thousand CNRS researchers by means of their annual reports for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006. This is the first time that such an extensive statistical study on science popularization practices is carried out. Our main findings are : - the majority of researchers is not involved in popularization (51% has not done any popularization over the three-year period, two thirds have been involved in no more than one popularization action). - popularization practices are extremely diverse, both at the individual level (we have identified three subpopulations that feature distinctive attitudes towards popularization), and at the level of scientific disciplines (researchers in Humanities are twice as active as the average), as well as in laboratories or geographical regions. - the number of actions reported in 2005 greatly increased compared to 2004 (+ 26%), while they slightly diminished in 2006.
 
The attacks of September 11 2001 and in particular, the sending of letters containing anthrax spores the following October had a profound effect on society, and at the same time on science and its communicative mechanisms. Through a quanto-qualitative analysis of articles taken from four publications: two daily newspapers, the Corriere della Sera from Italy and the New York Times from the United States and two science magazines, Science and Nature, we have shown how the aforementioned events provoked the emergence of media attention regarding bioterrorism. A closer reading of the articles shows that today, science – including that found in science magazines – is closely related to politics, economics and the debate over the freedom to practice communicate. The very mechanisms of communication between scientists were changed as a result of this debate, as can be seen from the signing of the Denver Declaration in February 2003, which brought about the preventative self-censorship of publication of biomedical research findings.
 
Analysis of popular science magazines can offer a significant contribution to the study of the history of science popularisation and the relation between the language of science and everyday language in Italy. This paper reconstructs the history of science popularisation through analysis of popular science magazines published in Italy from 1788 to date. The material examined consists of 80 popular science magazines covering various scientific disciplines, reporting current issues and targeted at a non-specialist public. Such material had never been gathered and organised in a systematic way before. The analysis did not take into account academic scientific journals which generally cover a single discipline and use technical language or high-quality science popularisation journals which also use specialist language. The element that all 80 magazines have in common is the use of non-technical, easily understandable language for a public that does not possess any specialist scientific knowledge. The analysis of the material offers an overview of the scientific disciplines that have been covered more extensively in popular science magazines from the end of the 18th century to date. In addition, it shows how priorities in coverage changed in different historical periods and how a variety of science communication modes have been established over time
 
Histogram of the recurrences in the Piccolo Teatro press review in terms of absolute values.
Relative recurrences in the Piccolo Teatro press review.
Relative recurrences in the Piccolo Teatro press review.
German actor, Ernst Busch, who played Galileo in Berlin, with Erich Engel.
The article reports the outcome of an analysis of the reception of Bertolt Brecht’s play, "The Life of Galileo", as presented by Giorgio Strehler (Milan, 1963) and Brecht himself in collaboration with Erich Engel (East Berlin, 1957), carried out on respective press reviews. The reviews were examined by the application of quantitative analysis based on the recurrence of determinate themes associated with images of science. In comparing the results of the analysis of each of the two press reviews, it appears that different images were conveyed by the same play performed in two different contexts for different audiences. Italy, in particular, showed a more frequent recurrence of the conflict between science and religion as a result of the ongoing cultural and spiritual authority of the Church, whereas in the German Democratic Republic’s communist regime, where Brecht is a troublesome but tolerated intellectual, the topics of the scientist’s freedom within the Establishment and intellectual courage were more frequent.
 
We live in a period where new media develops at amazing speed: the case of Youtube, becoming in few months one of the most visited website in the world, or the incredibly fast diffusion of audio and video podcasting, or the acquired relevance and authoritativeness of blogs in the dissemination of scientific information, are paradigmatic. Yet, there is little doubt that old media such as traditional television remain a reference for the largest sector of the population. Indeed, all surveys show that when dealing with scientific information, television remains the most relevant medium by a large majority of European (although in eastern Europe, due to a more trustful reputation, radio has also a particularly relevant position, and the internet is gaining favour among younger audiences).
 
The Scientific Communications Act of 2007 (HR 1453) was introduced by the US House of Representatives on 9th March. The National Science Foundation, an independent United States Government agency that supports fundamental research and education, has thus been allowed to spend ten million dollars for each of the fiscal years 2008 through 2012 to provide communications training to improve the ability of scientists to engage in public dialogue.
 
The knowledge society is a new social species that, despite many uncertainties and some (old and new) ambiguities, is emerging on the horizon of the 21st century. Placed at the convergence of two long-term processes (society of individuals and knowledge society), it is characterised by the social-economic process of knowledge circulation, which can be divided into four fundamental phases (generation, institutionalisation, spreading and socialisation). The current situation also sees the traditional (modern) structure of knowledge being outdated by the convergence of nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, information technologies and neuro-cognitive technologies (NBIC). In the background, the need arises to cross the cultural frontier of modernity.
 
Scientific communication in court is particularly important for the understanding of the process of post-academic science communication. The purpose of this study, carried out through a qualitative approach, is: 1) verify whether and how the dynamics of an expert`s science communication in court can be traced back to the problem of public science communication. 2) underline specific characteristics of science communication in court. 3) propose a sample of a "general table on science communication", in order to be a ble to a nalyse every possible communication between the different parties of a legal proceeding.
 
A recent article published in Science Communication addresses the training issue in issue in our discipline. Henk Mulder and his colleagues discuss the shared features that university curricula should or could have to favour the full admission of science communication into the academic circle. Having analysed analogies and differences in the curricula that a number of schools provide all over the world, the authors reached the conclusion that much remains to be done. Science communication seems far from having found shared fundamental references, lessons that cannot be missed in the practical-theoretical education of future professionals or researchers in this discipline. What should one study to become a good science communicator? And to make innovative research?
 
It is often said that a new era is beginning, one that is founded on knowledge, thus envisaging a new society, founded on information. Meanwhile, technological innovation already characterises our daily lives and our vision of the world: no past generation saw their surroundings change so quickly and deeply as we do.
 
When thinking about this contribution, an homage to John Ziman, one question occurred to me repeatedly: what would John have made of the European Research Council? Here is a newly established institution with the sole objective to fund ‘frontier research’ at EU level, based exclusively on scientific excellence and subject to pan-European competition of the best researchers. Would he have interpreted it as a vindication of academic science as a culture, a deliberate turning away from ‘post-academic science’ or even of overcoming it? Or, would he have seen it as the establishment of a small niche, to be recognized (and praised) for its respect for the norms of academic science, whose wider impact still has to be seen?
 
In the midst of a debate on access to information, the World Health Organization and the FAO have decided to develop a strategy to guarantee the right of poor countries to have free access to scientific publications. This right is often denied, mainly because of high subscription costs. For this reason, universities and research centres in southern countries must forego buying magazines, which are a valuable instrument for updating, and exchanging information on research and scientific issues. This choice has been made in an historical period when the industrialized world is marked by a knowledge-based economy.
 
Scientific information ­ from the moment it is produced by the scientific community until it reaches the non- expert audience through the newspapers ­ is submitted to a complex process of adaptation. In this paper, we investigate the process of accommodating the scientific information provided by a primary scientific source (a peer-review journal) into journalistic discourse (a newspaper). As case studies we analyzed four scientific papers published by the peer-reviewed scientific journals Nature and Science, which were simultaneously used as primary scientific sources by Latin American newspapers. We observed that the process of accommodation into a new space, journalistic space, represents a significant shift in the content of the texts, including information that appears, disappears and is transformed in the process; transformations in the lexica, the style and the argumentation; a change in the hierarchy of the information; a shift in the information emphasized and in the social impact it might have.
 
In a beautiful Barcelona, bathed in sun, the 8th PCST Congress was celebrated at the beginning of June.1 Besides the magnificent location of this year, there are several other reasons to commemorate the event. The first reason is that the community of professionals and scholars interested in Public Communication of Science and Technology (science journalists and writers, scientists, sociologists, teachers, historians, science museum curators, etc.) is growing quickly.
 
In the writer’s opinion the frequently used expression “scientific theatre” is actually an ambiguous term, since it refers to a number of widely differing experiences. For this reason, the word “theatre” is preferred in this paper when referring to those events which take place in institutionalised settings, while the term “theatrical communic-action” is deemed more appropriate when referring to those taking place in settings devoted to scientific communication, such as museums. After a brief historical analysis of the various approaches of theatre to science and some examples of plays in Italy and abroad, the writer investigates how theatre can produce effective scientific communication in museums. Theatrical action can bring out the value of the exhibits of a museum, while creating a new way of experiencing the exhibitions. Theatrical actions link education and entertainment, consequently becoming a highly effective didactic instrument. The advantages of theatre are briefly outlined, considering it as an interpretative technique to communicate science from the point of view of the goals pursued by museums, of epistemology and of theatrical research. Hopefully, theatrical communic -action of science will become common practice in Italy, just like in Europe and the United States, where it has established itself for decades. In Italy this technique has been very seldom applied, thus hindering a thorough analysis of it. On the basis of various experiences abroad, however, the conclusion is drawn that there is probably no all-encompassing magical solution, and that the effectiveness of all different techniques of theatrical communic-action should be tested case by case.
 
Artists create new aesthetics to communicate new messages and new concerns. Apprehension about the climate, its changes, global warming and a disposition to anxiously running after an ideal sustainable development are part of the issues we all now experience with a certain degree of anxiety. This is why the sensitive antennae of artists have perceived and evolved that. Now they are committed on many fields to making their voice be heard and to raising ethical and social issues, also regarding the scientific instruments man possesses to manipulate nature. So they have now accessed the group of special interlocutors in the dialogue between science and society.
 
In the summer of 2003, a survey was carried out at the At-Bristol Science Centre (UK) to determine the effectiveness of the hands-on activities of “Explore”. The section evaluated included 43 interactive experiences divided into two themes. The first, “Get Connected”, consisted of examples of the latest digital technologies, such as a television studio, virtual volleyball, and radars. The second, “Curiosity Zone”, was dedicated to natural phenomena and subdivided into three additional groups: “Natural Forces” which presented various forces of nature, “Focus on Light”, which dealt with the wonder of light, and “Sound Space”, reserved for the science of sound. The survey was divided into two phases: the first consisted in observing the public’s interaction with the hands-on activities; the second, in consulting the staff. The methods adopted helped determine the effectiveness of the exhibitdesign and the evaluation itself highlighted the role of a promoter of science as an evaluator.
 
Distribution des chercheurs selon le nombre d'actions moyen sur une année donnée. Ainsi, environ 70% des chercheurs ne font aucune action une année donnée.  
Nombre d'actions moyen de vulgarisation en fonction de l'âge.
Nombre d'actions de vulgarisation en fonction du grade (moyenne 2004-2005)
We have analyzed the popularization activities undertaken by ten thousand CNRS researchers by means of their annual reports for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006. This is the first time that such an extensive statistical study on science popularization practices is carried out. Our main findings are : - the majority of researchers is not involved in popularization (51% has not done any popularization over the three-year period, two thirds have been involved in no more than one popularization action). - popularization practices are extremely diverse, both at the individual level (we have identified three subpopulations that feature distinctive attitudes towards popularization), and at the level of scientific disciplines (researchers in Humanities are twice as active as the average), as well as in laboratories or geographical regions. - the number of actions reported in 2005 greatly increased compared to 2004 (+ 26%), while they slightly diminished in 2006.
 
A model of Science Café type and Dialogue Depth.  
Tokyo Institute of Technology (TokyoTech) has been developing a number of methodologies to teach graduate students the theory and practice of science communication since 2005. One of the tools used is the science café, where students are taught about the background based primarily on theoretical models developed in the UK. They then apply that knowledge and adapt it the Japanese cultural context and plan, execute and review outcomes as part of their course. In this paper we review 4 years of experience in using science cafés in this educational context; we review the background to the students’ decision-making and consensus-building process towards deciding on the style and subject to be used, and the value this has in illuminating the cultural influences on the science café design and implementation. We also review the value of the science café as an educational tool and conclude that it has contributed to a number of teaching goals related to both knowledge and the personal skills required to function effectively in an international environment.
 
Public opinions toward emergent technologies may be highly dependent on the manner in which people are introduced to these technologies for the very first time. In this light, understanding how such first introductions are related to adolescents’ information seeking behaviors and their developing opinions may be particularly interesting because this target public can be considered to be not only future users of the technology but also future decision makers of its development. The present paper presents a case study of the introduction of ecogenomics among 246 adolescents who were asked to inform themselves about this technology and to write two essays: one that would reflect their personal opinions, and another that would reflect their advice to the Dutch government about further funding of ecogenomics research. Results showed that the Internet was by far their preferred source of information and that most adolescents held positive attitudes toward ecogenomics as expressed in essays that reflected their personal opinions and advice to others. In their perspective, ecogenomics was a positive development in science because of expected benefits concerning medical and environmental applications, such as the potential discovery of new antibiotics and the possible use in bioremediation.
 
A review of two books recently published by Vieira & Lent, by the Casa da Ciência (House of Science) and by the Oswaldo Cruz Museu da Vida (Life Museum, Cruz/Fiocruz), "O Pequeno Cientista Amador – a divulgação científica e o público infantil", and "Terra Incógnita – a interface entre ciência e público" ("The Young Amateur Scientist - scientific divulgation and the youthful public", and "Unknown Land – the interface between science and the public") is presented.
 
The use of various expressive artistic forms in science centres and in interactive museums is becoming increasingly widespread. This paper proposes an interpretation of this phenomenon that emphasises how contemporary art contributes to experimentation with new forms of scientific communication. Furthermore, it examines the considerable overlap apparent between the themes addressed by contemporary artists and current scientific developments. Indeed, just as can be seen in science centres, artistic experimentation has assumed a new role: raising public awareness of what is happening around us today.
 
This paper is concerned with the interactions between information technology and the humanities, and focuses on how the humanities have changed since adopting computers. The debate among humanists on the subject initially focuses on the alleged methodological changes brought about by the introduction of computing technology. It subsequently analyses the changes in research that were caused by IT not directly but indirectly, as a consequence of the changes effected on society as a whole. After briefly summarising the history of the interactions between information technology and the humanities, the paper draws on literature to examine the way humanists have perceived the evolution of their disciplines. The paper concludes by fitting the phenomenon into a model of scientific revolution.
 
In 2007 the Life Long Learning Programme (previously Socrates) of the European Commission has started. The programme offers to teachers, educators and policy-makers of the education sector the opportunity to be funded for participating at various training courses organized in all EU countries by international networks and projects. The SEDEC course will be included in that list in 2008. The article shortly present how to ask for a grant.
 
The importance the Brazilian government has given in the last few years to the dissemination of science points out the necessity of a more discerning analysis about the establishment of this subject on the public agenda and the related public policies undertaken. This work tries to contribute to the debate as an inquiry about the policies to popularize and disseminate Science and Technology (S&T) established by the Science and Technology Popularization and Dissemination Department, which was created in 2004. In order to do so, theoretical references from Public Policy Analysis, the Studies of Science, Technology and Society (SSTS), and Public Communication of Science are used. Furthermore, we analyze some of the results from research on Science and Technology Understanding carried out in Brazil in 2006. As a final point, this associated approach aims at identifying some of the limiting factors related to science dissemination actions in Brazil.
 
Over the last few years the media ­ and especially television ­ have focussed on presumed health emergencies such as mad-cow disease, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the Di Bella cancer-cure case and the Lipobay case. Topics such as these have a strong emotional impact on public opinion and subscribe to the dictates of the ratings rather than following the more or less prescriptive rules of scientific communication. In a highly competitive environment, if the ratings prevail against information, it is obvious that news follows the rules of fiction, health reports become mere entertainment, and moderation and accuracy give way to triviality, overstatement and alarmism. The loyalty of the target audience becomes the ultimate aim of the communicator, because that is what the advertisers are interested in. There is no point in blaming the journalists, though they too share the responsibility of this phenomenon. The mechanism seems to be exactly the same for all kinds of "emergencies": immigration, criminality, weather changes, new diseases, war. The format prevails over the event. Communication depends less and less on the topic and more and more on the medium, the debate on GMOs being no exception.
 
The present article investigates public understanding of HIV/AIDS related issues that touch the thought structure of common citizen, among the Indian public. Analysis is based on a representative sample collected from 10 states of India. The authors have also analysed the relative cultural distance at which men and women, as separate groups, could be placed. The relative cultural distance, for each of the selected issues, has been computed and it was found that men, as a group, are closer to scientific thought structure compared to women.
 
“Science on the air” is an enjoyable and extremely well researched account of the origins of science programming in north American radio. From 1923 to the mid-50s, LaFollette takes us in a journey through the life and programs of many scientists, journalists and storytellers who chosed radio as a medium for science communication. A journey who allow the reader to visit many success, but also many incomprehension and missed opportunities, mainly by scientific institutions, who often failed to understand the potential of radio as a tool for science communication. It is a fully enjoyable journey, that leave the reader with an appetite to know how the US situation relates to other wonderful experiences around the world in the same years, and how those pioneer experiences influenced today's landscape.
 
The international symposium “Science on air: the role of radio in science communication” was held inTrieste on 1 and 2 October, 2004. To our knowledge, it is the first conference ever specifically held on science on radio, and it is certainly the first time science radio journalists, researchers, and mediaexperts from 16 different countries met to discuss their journalistic practice and the role of radio in science communication.The main results are presented in this article.
 
Since the first pioneering balloon flight undertaken in France in 1783, aerial ascents became an ordinary show for the citizens of the great European cities until the end of the XIX century. Scientists welcomed balloons as an extraordinary device to explore the aerial ocean and find answers to their questions. At the same time, due to the theatricality of ballooning, sky became a unique stage where science could make an exhibition of itself. Namely, ballooning was not only a scientific device, but a way to communicate science as well. Starting from studies concerning the public facet of aerial ascents and from the reports of the aeronauts themselves, this essay explores the importance of balloon flights in growing the public sphere of science. Also, the reasons that led scientists to exploit “the show of science aloft” (earning funds, public support, dissemination of scientific culture…) will be presented and discussed.
 
State Map of São Paulo with its main hydrographic basins. 15
The knowledge deficit model with regard to the public has been severely criticized in the sociology of the public perception of science. However, when dealing with public decisions regarding scientific matters, political and scientific institutions insist on defending the deficit model. The idea that only certified experts, or those with vast experience, should have the right to participate in decisions can bring about problems for the future of democracies. Through a type of "topography of ideas", in which some concepts from the social studies of science are used in order to think about these problems, and through the case study of public participation in the elaboration of the proposal of discounts in the fees charged for rural water use in Brazil, we will try to point out an alternative to the deficit model. This alternative includes a "minimum comprehension" of the scientific matters involved in the decision on the part of the participants, using criteria judged by the public itself.
 
This essay reflects on three figures that can be used to make sense of the changing nature of public participation in the life sciences today: outlaws, hackers and Victorian gentlemen. Occasioned by a symposium held at UCLA (Outlaw Biology: Public Participation in the Age of Big Bio), the essay introduces several different modes of participation (DIY Bio, Bio Art, At home clinical genetics, patient advocacy and others) and makes three points: 1) that public participation is first a problem of legitimacy, not legality or safety; 2) that public participation is itself enabled by and thrives on the infrastructure of mainstream biology; and 3) that we need a new set of concepts (other than inside/outside) for describing the nature of public participation in biological research and innovation today.
 
There have been countless innovations in the realm of science museology after the foundation of the Exploratorium of San Francisco and of the Ontario Science Center of Toronto with, among other things, the introduction of the exhibits hands-on, the use of new technologies and the arrival of virtuality.But most of all a new dialogue was launched, also as a form of transformation of reality. And what is drama but fiction and transformation of reality?This statement is the basis for the belief that museums and the theatre should continue, if not even start, a path to move closer, so as to make their languages work at the service of each other.A dialogical interaction which is difficult (as both languages and their interpreters crave for superiority), strong (the place for communication becomes multi-channel), but necessary (in view of a systemic approach of science communication).It is necessary especially to build an all-encompassing museum to fully play a sociological role of study, interpretation and determination of human society.
 
Never have there been so much science and so much technology on so many sides as now. The expansion of scientific information in the social sphere is frankly impressive. In newspapers and movies, on television and radio, scientific ideas circulate freely every day of the week. Science is in cell phones, shampoo, compact discs, Olympic athletes' clothing, food, perfumes, and in so many places that trying to enumerate them would be insane. After all, why should it be particularly strange to speak of science and technology if scientific thought finally molds our deepest fibers? Today's society, developed or not, lives immersed in a scientific and technological culture which guides the course of the most fundamental events. Even though, of course, the common sense obliges us to admit that the majority of us are not fully conscious of its reach and consequences. Perhaps this helps to understand why we still feel a certain shame when, in a social gathering, we comment that our profession consists of spreading science or analyzing the ways in which it circulates and its repercussions in the public opinion. It may be that we live with the fear that someone will look at us strangely and with disbelief and ask us to explain what scientific communication or the social studies of science consist of or, worse yet, that we find ourselves in the embarrassing situation of rehearsing an answer to justify the importance of thinking about science in daily life.
 
Knowledge Areas 
Tone-Promise or Concern? 
News Sources 
The objective of this article is to present a panorama of the way in which journalistic coverage of science and technological themes is being carried out in Latin America, having as a case study seven newspapers of significant impact in the region. We analyzed all stories published by the science section during all the month of April 2004, in the following newspapers: La Nación, Argentina; El Mercurio, Chile; Mural, Mexico; El Comercio, Ecuador; O Globo, Folha de S. Paulo and Jornal do Commercio/Pernambuco, Brazil. A total of 482 texts were collected. The methodology joins quantitative and qualitative analysis. There are very few studies on science journalism in Latin America and even fewer that seek to explore a comparison among countries. We believe that studies such as ours can provide subsidies to stimulate the improvement of journalistic coverage of scientific and technological issues.
 
The discussion on the state of the art of scientific publications in Latin American countries generally restricts itself to its supposedly low visibility. This affirmation is generally conditioned to the exclusive use of large international databases, mainly of the USA and Europe, which include thousands of scientific publications that have marginalized a large part of the scientific literature produced in peripheral countries. Given this fact of low visibility, it became imperative for some Latin American countries, beginning in the 90s (20th Century), to develop their own mechanisms of projection of the results of their own scientific production. The experiences constitute an example for countries that, having significant scientific production, still do not have the means to facilitate access to local scientific publications. Although Bolivia still remains distant from these initiatives, a series of studies were identified that show the existence of a tradition of publication in scientific magazines and interest in their visibility, on a local and international level, which demands attention to the most adequate mechanisms in order to carry this out.
 
In addition to their intrusive presence in American schools, creationists - or more modern epigones thereof, known as “intelligent designers” - are also and unexpectedly to be found in other countries. Take the United Kingdom as an example. Over the past few years, Darwin’s homeland has actually been witnessing attempts to introduce literal faith in the Bible into school programmes in a way which does not significantly differ from the one adopted in the United States. It is multi-billionaire Howard H. Ahmanson who generously finances the Discovery Institute across the Atlantic, one of the dissemination centres of the creationist “creed”.
 
The initiatives focusing the professional development of explainers are multiplying around the world, building an informal network of researchers, museums managers and directors, explainers, and regional/continental networks, as THE group, the Thematic Human Interface and Explainers group of Ecsite.The Workshop Sul-Americano de Mediação em Museus e Centros de Ciência e Escola de Mediação em Museus e Centros de Ciência, which took place in Rio de Janeiro in September 2008, was a further important step along this path. We believe it is worthwhile to offer to Jcom readers some of the workshop contributions concerning the training of explainers, to which we added an overview of the general problem presented by Lynn Uyen Tran (Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley).
 
"Weapons of mass destruction" is the word of the year 2002, at least according to the American Dialect Society, an association which has been studying the English language in North America for more than one century and which yearly chooses the word having more relevance to American society and information. The word of the year 2001 was "Nine eleven", and the passing of the baton was very significant. September 11th has actually marked an extraordinary media watershed in the debate on the dangerousness of weapons of mass destruction. The bioterrorist threat, for instance, seems to have gained ground in newspaper pages and in programme schedules - and therefore in people's houses - together with anthrax letters terrorising America. However, though this lethal powder has remained confined beyond the Atlantic, fear has rapidly spread throughout the world, including Italy. (Taken from the book "Armageddon Supermarket" - Sironi Editore)
 
The historian Marshall Berman wrote that living in modern times means "to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation [...] and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know". Today - at a time when modernity has become a "reflexive modernity" for some, whilst for others it is already over (and for others still "we have never been modern") - it seems that Berman has grasped an important concept: a part of media narration is characterised by a fluctuation between euphoria and fear, triumphalism and rejection, as regards science and technology as well as other areas (the ambivalence of the "Frankenstein effect" discussed by Jon Turney).
 
Digital media have transformed the social practices of science communication. They have extended the number of channels that scientists, media professionals, other stakeholders and citizens use to communicate scientific information. Social media provide opportunities to communicate in more immediate and informal ways, while digital technologies have the potential to make the various processes of research more visible in the public sphere. Some digital media also offer, on occasion, opportunities for interaction and engagement. Similarly, ideas about public engagement are shifting and extending social practices, partially influencing governance strategies, and science communication policies and practices. In this paper I explore this developing context via a personal journey from an analogue to a digital scholar. In so doing, I discuss some of the demands that a globalised digital landscape introduces for science communication researchers and document some of the skills and competencies required to be a digital scholar of science communication.
 
Top-cited authors
Luisa Massarani
  • Instituto Nacional de Comunicação Pública da Ciência e Tecnologia e SciDev.Net
Lars Guenther
  • University of Hamburg
Marina Joubert
  • Stellenbosch University
Bruce V Lewenstein
  • Cornell University
Jennifer Ellen Metcalfe
  • Econnect Communication