Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Society for Social Studies of Science (and a side of soft computing)

Things will be quiet around here for the next few weeks as I work madly to meet some journal and university deadlines, but I still need to migrate Space and Culture to wordpress so updates on that end are more likely. (I also still keep track of everyday life at

Thanksgiving this year falls near peak harvest time (sweet!) and we've got a visit with much-loved friends from London that will involve us traipsing all over the Gatineau Hills and Ottawa Valley before hopping on the train to Montréal.

I'll be in town for the 4S Annual Meeting, which takes place October 11-13th. If you're in Montréal then too, please give me a shout!

This will be my first 4S meeting and I'm really interested in getting a sense of the research culture. Like many professional organisations, they offer a mentoring programme that sounds like a great idea. But I keep seeing the "senior/junior scholar" distinction made, and I start to get uncomfortable. If we only exist in hierarchical relation to each other, does mentoring encourage only one-way (i.e. top-down) exchange? And how does such an organised programme differ from simply introducing oneself and having a conversation?

But mostly I mean research culture in terms of kinds of research. Epistemology geeks (including me) must be excited by the "Ways of Knowing" conference theme, which led to a stunning array of interesting topics in something like a dozen concurrent sessions. Overwhelming to say the least, but I'll do my best to blog what I see, hear and do while I'm there.

I'm also looking forward to staying with my friend Joey Berzowska, who has agreed to me interviewing her for an upcoming issue of Bitch Magazine. We'll be talking about her latest project, SKORPIONS, the intersections of technology, fashion and social critique, and what it's been like working in the male-dominated field of wearable computing. Stay tuned!

P.S. I'm looking forward to the conference and I'm happy to be a 4S member, but I gotta say that their website generally sucks and the meeting section is just painful. I mean, seriously, who thought it was a good idea to make the only version of the programme a 119-page pdf? Would it have killed the designer to create a simple html version that could give me, at a glance, a decent sense of what I can expect? And don't get me started about the registration process. Sheesh. It's all the more incomprehensible, and embarrassing, because these folks supposedly exist to foster social understandings of science and technology. Then again, maybe it's just part of the general suckiness of academic websites. University sites are often pretty good, but check out individual academics and research initiatives and you'll see what I mean.

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Anonymous Ben Kraal said...

I'm going to a Design conference soon and the website is appalling.

Anonymous nick knouf said...

Indeed, and the fact that I only found out that I was presenting because I visited the website itself...I never received any e-mail about it until just yesterday! I've heard from former participants that the organization is simply awful, and that in the past people have presented in the hallway due to lack of space! I hope it's not like that this year...

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