Distraction Free Reading

4S Meeting Preview!

The forthcoming meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) is packed with exciting panels, papers, and activities that advance classic STS topics while exploring new themes that are emerging on the horizon. We hope to see many of you there, and we encourage in-person connections while we are all in the same place!

Of course, one can never adequately cover a whole conference in a single blog post, but it is safe to say that this year’s 4S is chock full of exciting papers—and for the first time, stand-alone films—that tackle a dazzling array of 4S topics. The conference offers numerous panels that update the discipline’s understanding of long-term issues of interest including: scientific communities in action, risk, environmental crises, sustainability, epistemologies, religion, and food.

Yet, new dimensions of these topics are also being explored. For example, although food has been of scholarly interest for quite some time, I was interested to see several papers that analyze new forms of food and eating. Papers will be discussing practices and products on the horizon such as laboratory cultured meat, nanofood, and food risk analysis. Themes include exploring how these foods impact health, the economy, the family, and culture. Heather Paxson, recent winner of CASTAC’s Diana Forsythe Prize will be the discussant for one such panel, held in Garden Salon One (8:30 to 10:00 am) on Thursday.

The conference also offers numerous panels on hot topics in STS including: emotion, sound, DIY science, the spatial turn in STS, interspecies investigations, curiosity, Big Data, and cloud computing. Big Data and cloud computing have certainly been on the minds of CASTAC readers, with several posts appearing on these topics over the past year. Be sure to check out the numerous panels on these topics at the conference. Let us know how they compare to the findings that have been reported here on The CASTAC Blog.

Panels will also be exploring the “spatial turn in STS” which explores a variety of fascinating topics, including the relationships between conceptions of place, mapping technologies, and spatial control. Several papers are investigating how people and non-human entities form networks that articulate and give rise to particular forms of environmental interventions. Lisa Messeri, who has contributed posts on her work on how scientific discourse turns space into place on other planets, will be chairing several of these panels.

In anthropology and other social sciences, scholars are increasingly interested to move beyond the human-centric focus of their disciplines. The 4S conference offers several papers that explore interspecies dynamics as important loci of STS analysis. For instance, Meredith Tromble’s paper, “A Longing in Our Hearts: Interspecies Communication in Contemporary Art” offers a particularly fascinating and artistic exploration of these themes. She explores the desire for interspecies communication and the ramifications of incomprehension. Expect to see more papers exploring interspeciality in STS conferences to come.

Staffan Bergwik and Helena Pettersson are chairing an intriguing panel on “The Cultural Construction of Curiosity in Science” which is being presented in the Hampton room (8:30 to 10:00 am) on Friday. Curiosity is surely a central point of departure shared by many researchers across disciplines. STS scholars of different stripes as well as the scientists and technologists whom they study all strive to satisfy a need to know. A colleague of mine once stated that “The most interesting people are curious people.” Yet, we also know that curiosity killed the cat.

It will be interesting to see how the papers on this panel handle historical and contemporary forms of curiosity, and how its emotional expression shapes scientific practice. The economic and institutional forms of science may actually be killing curiosity. One paper overtly asks whether scientists actually have time given project and budget cycles to really be curious. In her paper, “Do We Have Time to Be Curious? The Permutations of Science Values in the 21st Century,” Izabela Wagner asks whether or not scientific curiosity is still vital or possible in contemporary scientific research.

Folks who bring you The CASTAC Blog are also excited to be participating this year. Our own Jennifer Cool will be presenting her paper, “Speaking History to Technopower,” on a panel discussing Revolutionary Digital Rhetorics. The panel will be held in Windsor West (2:00 to 3:30 pm) on Saturday. Cool traces the social construction of personal publishing practices and advocates working to reinscribe histories of single inventors and inventions to include the collaborative aspects of the rise and current use of social media.

Jordan Kraemer will be tackling the infamous topic of cloud computing in her paper, “Locating Clouds and Crowds: Berlin’s Mobile Publics,” which is part of the panel: The Cloud and the Crowd, which will be presented in Pacific Salon Two (10:30 to 12:00 pm) on Friday. Drawing on fieldwork in Berlin, Kraemer analyzes the relationship between mobile devices, cultural mobilities, and public spaces, and explores the production of online publics through language practices.

Also, for the first time, 4S will be screening several stand-alone films. I am happy to announce that I will be screening my recently released ethnographic film, Hey Watch This! Sharing the Self Through Media. The film’s unique diachronic approach documents the rise (and some say fall) of YouTube as a social media site. Interviews and observations with YouTubers at meet-ups across the United States revealed their diverse perspective on topics such as reasons for making public media, digital migration, and video as digital memoria. The film will be screened in Golden Ballroom One (2:00 to 3:30 pm) on Saturday.

The 4S Meeting will be held at the San Diego Town and Country Resort and Convention Center, October 9-12. For more information, see the 4S meeting website. A copy of the program with abstracts is found here.

If you are attending these or other interesting panels and wish to write a blog post about them, please contact Patricia G. Lange, at plange@cca.edu.

See you in San Diego!

Below is a list of CASTAC presenters sorted by date:

THURSDAY
^^^^^^^^^^^^
Jenny Carlson (University of Texas, Austin)
jennycarlson@gmail.com
Dirt: Thinking with and about Soil
Scheduled Time: Thu Oct 10 2013, 8:30 to 10:00am
Building/Room: Town and Country / Pacific Salon Seven
Presenter: Beyond Blood and Soil: Dirt Ontology and Germany?s Clean Energy
Revolution

Ron Eglash (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
eglash@rpi.edu
Critical Making: Material Practices, Design, and STS II: Practices,
Methods, Tactics, and Strategies
Scheduled Time: Thu Oct 10 2013, 10:30 to 12:00pm
Building/Room: Town and Country / Pacific Salon Four
Presenter: Fractal Flows in Upstream Engagement: Symmetric Innovation
between Technoscience and Social Justice

Luis Felipe R. Murillo (UCLA)
unixjazz@gmail.com
From Hobby to Science Work III: The Culture & Politics of
Professionalized DIY Making
Scheduled Time: Thu Oct 10 2013, 2:00 to 3:30pm
Building/Room: Town and Country / Windsor West
Presenter: “Hacking and/as Bricolage”

Sharon Traweek (UCLA)
traweek@history.ucla.edu
Experts-in-Training: Professional Socialization in Medicine & STEM: I
Scheduled Time: Thu Oct 10 2013, 2:00 to 3:30pm
Building/Room: Town and Country / Pacific Salon Two
Non-Presenter: Co-Producing Knowledge: Basic Research Data Practices and
Workforce

FRIDAY
^^^^^^^^
Nicholas Seaver (University of California, Irvine)
nick.seaver@gmail.com
‘Big Data’: Symbols, Practices, and Epistemic Uncertainties: I
Scheduled Time: Fri Oct 11 2013, 8:30 to 10:00am
Building/Room: Town and Country / Garden Salon One
Presenter : Big Data in Action: Inclusion and Negotiation in Algorithmic
Music Recommendation

Sharon Traweek (UCLA)
traweek@history.ucla.edu
Technoscience Epistemologies: What?s Next?
Scheduled Time: Fri Oct 11 2013, 10:30 to 12:00pm
Building/Room: Town and Country / Eaton
Presenter: Revisiting Embodiment and Materiality in Ethnography of
Sciences and Technologies: II

Casey O’Donnell (Michigan State University)
caseyodonnell@gmail.com
Getting Played: Gameification and the Rise of Algorithmic Surveillance
In Session Submission: Surveillance and the Mediation of Big Data: II
Scheduled Time: Fri Oct 11 2013, 10:30 to 12:00pm
Building/Room: Town and Country / Pacific Salon Three

Jordan Kraemer (UC Irvine)
jkraemer@uci.edu
The Cloud and the Crowd
Scheduled Time: Fri Oct 11 2013, 10:30 to 12:00pm
Building/Room: Town and Country / Pacific Salon Two
Presenter: Locating Clouds and Crowds: Berlin?s Mobile Publics

Barbara Herr Harthorn (UC Santa Barbara)
barbara.harthorn@ucsb.edu
The Politics of Risk & Perception: The Nanotechnology Case
Scheduled Time: Fri Oct 11 2013, 10:30 to 12:00pm
Building/Room: Town and Country / Pacific Salon Seven
Chair: Ecotypes, Risk Perception, and New Technologies: The Effect of
Environmental Context on Public Risk Perception
Presenter: The Politics of Risk in Deliberative Debates on Nanotechnologies
for Health & Enhancement

Christo Sims (UC San Diego)
chsims@ucsd.edu
Information and Communication Technologies, Aspiration and Identity
Schedule Time: Fri Oct 11 2013, 4:00 to 5:30pm
Building/Room: Town and Country, 2 – Pacific Salon Seven
Presenter: Technological Legitimacy in Processes of Collaboration and
Exclusion

Lilly Irani (UC San Diego)
lirani@ucsd.edu
Information and Communication Technologies, Aspiration and Identity
Schedule Time: Fri Oct 11 2013, 4:00 to 5:30pm
Building/Room: Town and Country, 2 – Pacific Salon Seven
Presenter: The Infrastructures of Design Aspiration

SATURDAY
^^^^^^^^^^^^
Sharon Traweek (UCLA)
traweek@history.ucla.edu
Roundtable: Disaster-STS
Scheduled Time: Sat Oct 12 2013, 8:30 to 10:00am
Building/Room: Town and Country / Golden Ballroom Two
Discussant

Gwen Ottinger (University of Washington-Bothell)
ottinger@u.washington.edu
Not Just Participation, Influence: Rethinking the Power Relations between
Academic and Extramural Science
Scheduled Time: Sat Oct 12 2013, 10:30 to 12:00pm
Building/Room: Town and Country / Sheffield
Chair & Presenter: Categorically Social: Expert Authority and the
Re-interpretation of Citizen Participation in Science

Patricia G. Lange (California College of the Arts),
plange@cca.edu
Film Screening: “Hey Watch This: Sharing the Self Through Media”
Scheduled Time: Sat Oct 12 2013, 2:00 to 3:30pm
Building/Room: Town and Country / Golden Ballroom One
Chair/Anthropologist-Filmmaker

Jennifer Cool (University of Southern California)
cool@usc.edu
Revolutionary Digital Rhetorics
Scheduled Time: Sat Oct 12 2013, 2:00 to 3:30pm
Building/Room: Town and Country / Windsor West
Presenter: Speaking History to Technopower

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