4s in Washington D.C. Part 1: Latin American STS

Well it’s a long time coming, but a lot happened at 4S..so I can be excused from my lateness in posting about that and also (in the following message) SLSA.

As AstroDime is currently working on Scientific American/La America Científica, I was out scoping for some ideas and conversation on both ideas. What follows is not a summation of the whole conference of 4S (Society for Social Studies of Science), but my biased account. 4S took place in Washington DC from October 28-30, 2009 in Crystal City Virginia (a few trainstops from D.C.
-sam smiley

Train in D.C. to 4s


I was lucky enough to spend a night with my friends Alberto Roblest and Christine Macdonald. Alberto is a video/media artist and Christine is a writer. In the evening I went to the reception for 4S. The first evening reception at 4S was a huge event, but I met up with some folks from RPI for a great ethiopian dinner.
This first section is devoted to the development of the Latin American STS track at the 4S conference.

Thurs morning, I decided to focus my energies on the Latin American/post-colonial track organized in part by Rick Duque. The session was called Environment, Technology and Society Interactions in Latin America. I greatly enjoyed a session presented by Erick Castellanos of Ramapo Unversity called “The Mexican and Transnational Lives of Corn: Technological, Political, Edible Object” (Co-written by Sara Bergstresser?). Part of the focus of the presentation was on the overproduction of corn in the U.S. for corn syrup and ethanol. He talked about corn genetics and the social issues between the US and Mexico, and public protests against bio-engineered corn in Mexico.

Another interesting talk was by a science writer from Brazil on P-MAPA, a drug which boosts the immune system and is helpful in the treatment of AIDS and also to deter various cancer cells and tumors. The talk was called “Across Borders: the Discovery and Development of the compound P-MAPA in Brazil”, and I THINK the presenter was Carlos Henrique Fioravanti. He talked about the history of the development of the drug, and how it hasn’t been mainstreamed in its use in the US despite its effectiveness and low cost. A link to P-MAPA is at http://www.farmabrasilis.org.br/todos_conteudos_interna.php?idioma=eng&id=198

The next session I went to was called Technology, Biology, and Medicine in Latin America. This was really interesting. Sandra Patricia Gonzales-Santos presented a talk (and later in the conference joined me for my presentation, much to my delight). Her talk was called “Negotiating Authority in the Mexican Assisted Human Reproduction Scenario” and it was a really interesting cultural studies analysis of the representation of assisted reproduction in Mexico. She did an in-depth study of mass media in mexico, both headlines, bylines, and images/represtnation. She also did an analysis on the vocabularies used to describe this.

One interesting comment by a group presenting on cloning in Argentina and Brazil (Juan Mariano Fressoli and Hernan Eduardo Thomas) talked the “social construction of the periphery” in Latin American STS. That was very intriguing food for thought.

Finally, following the Latin American STS thread, the last panel on this topic I went to was Theories and Methods in Latin American STS. Again, my coverage of this will be by no means comprehesive, these are what interested me.

Ivan de Costa Marques’s talk was “A Latin American Food for the Children Program and Limits of Relativism”. He described this food product which is sold as a food supplement in Brazil called “multimistura” and how it is being discredited as “scientific” as nutrition by scientists, but is still embraced by a lot of people. It was developed by Clara Brandao. A web site in English describing it is http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=1233613

Rodrigo Ribiero gave his talk “The Sociology of Scientific Knowledge in High School”. I thought this was really amazing. He is fortunate enough to be able to introduce 2 different schools, one public, and one private to STS, and is doing a followup study (I think he quoted Sara Delamont’s work from the education side). He talked about the issues and problems (the idea of science delivering certainty in an uncertain world being challenged, relations with science teachers in the high school) but since sociology is required in Brazilian high schools, the 2nd year followup for these high schools is STS. I think (and i will note this later) that the STS split from the K-12 setting, as an academic discipline only is problematic, and this talk really was interesting as a bridge between the worlds of K-12 education and higher ed (a split that is by no means confined to STS). He also shared a detailed syllabus/Unit which I thought was very generous.

this ends my report (albeit) incomplete on the Latin American STS track at 4S. However, I do want to add an important note (which also connects to the last paragraph I wrote). There is an uneasy relationship of STS to K-12 education. I believe this is in part because of the enormous gulf (at least in the United States) between higher ed and K-12. As an example: when I was first applying for teaching jobs in higher ed, I was told NOT to put any teaching experience I would have had with K-12, because it would not help my chances of getting a job, and might hurt it. A colleague of mine, who had taught high school media and was applying for a new media position at a university was told the same thing.
I can certainly understand that there are differences in pedagogy between k-12 and higher ed. However, I think that it is important to note that some people trained in STS have in fact gone on to work, either in a research capacity or teaching capacity in the K-12 area. (Since I work at Lesley University, I know a few of them). At the Friday evening Presidential Plenary Discussion (Trends and Futures of STS), Sheila Jasanoff was asked about involvement of STS with K-12 settings. In her reply she talked about participant observation or doing ethnographys in schools, thus describing the K-12 setting as a research site only. I disagree with this..I think there are a number ways STS graduates and scholars could be involved in introducing critical thinking about science in the K-12 setting. How about STS in high schools, like in Robert Ribiero’s talk? Also..what is STS’s relationship to STEM (an integrated program called Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics currently part of a K-12 dialogue)?? where does it fit in? Does STS relate to that at all? How about K-12 teachers as researchers rather than objects of study? I think STS can fit into the K-12 area, there does not have to be an artificial separation. As the audience member asked about STS in the K-12 setting, there was spontaneous applause in the crowd. And that in and of itself was interesting.

-my two or more cents (sam smiley)

Ottawa Animation Fest

This is the first of a series of articles i am writing on different conferences/festivals i went to this fall..in part to research for Scientific American/La America Cientifica. These are not “reviews” or at all comprensive..just my observations with regard to what what might interesting in the realms of art and technoscience.

The first fest was the Ottawa Animation festival in Ontario. My partner, Gina Kamentsky and I went from Friday Oct 16 to Sunday Oct. 18, 2009. For me, it was an opportunity to experience a LOT of animation and to familiarize myself with the language of animation.

picnic in Ottawa between films

A quick summary..we primarily went to see the shorts. it was amazing to see so many different forms in such a short time. With respect to science and art, here are a few I enjoyed (Somerville, MA) animator Karen Aqua’s animation called Twist of Fate. I also enjoyed The Machine by Rob Shaw. I loved Pears or Aliens by Ray Lei (from China). Melissa Graziano’s Love on the Line, currently included in our video journal INtransit SE: Can You Hear Me Now was awesome. There was another film, Q and A by the Rauche brothers . The audio was a recording of a conversation between a mother and her son who has Asbergers. The conversation was then animated.I love this strategy actually..using conversations and animating over them. Then there was Please Say Something by David O’Reilly, a really neat lo bit ideosycratic piece about a cat and a mouse. And the neo techno culture futuristic distopic superhero piece The Man in the Blue Gordini by Jean Christophe Lie is outstanding.

For my pans however, I have to site Ian Miller’s piece for getting the “most exploitive use of a recorded conversation.” his animation True Confessions was really lame. its description is ” A true confession from a drug addict”. It should be “a conversation I found/recorded/whatever that I thought I could exploit, and by the way I think drug addicts are really funny and pathetic.” He also made another one that trashed transwomen. And it won a prize at this festival. I wish he would use his animation skills to ..actually be funny. My other pan was this Pixar piece that I have already forgetten the name of, but it involved cute stork jokes. Yawn.

I saw the Stereolab at the National Film Board: Exploring the 3 dimensions and have to commend the film board for putting together a pretty interesting compilation of 3-D animation. Another stand-out event for me was the panel on independent game development called Mechanics and Metaphor: Designing independent games. On this panel was Erin Robinson, the creator of Nanobots and Nathan Villa who showed his game-in-developement Critter Crunch.

This last event was a great exposure to the world of independent games-creation for me. The whole experience of Ottawa was an animation-thon well worth attending.

-sam smiley

Still from the Man in the Blue Gordini

Conference: Futures of Science, Race, and Gender

Report on MIT Program in Womenś and Gender Studies: Futures of Science, Race, and Gender
Sept 26 2009 by sam \(^_^)/

This is a summary and digest of a conference I went to at MIT. I was looking to research for Scientific American/La America Científica. The web site for the conference is at http://web.mit.edu/wgs/twentyfive/

Panel 1:
Mentoring Women: Four Generations of Women Scientists at MIT

This session was an intergenerational panel of women who work in Cognitive Science. (specifically cognitive neuroscience). The discussion was primarily about intergenerational mentoring, and all the women on the panel had mentored or been mentored by the others. It was quite an interesting “lineage” as it were. At the end of the whole session, the audience response took it into another direction entirely (noted below)
Molly Potter began by outlining a history of women at MIT over the past century and into this one. She said an interesting thing, when McCormick hall (residence for women) was built at MIT, there was an upsurge of women students. Seems like a no-brainer? but sometimes the institutional barriers are so obvious they are hard to notice, paradoxically.

Nancy Kanwisher talked about the importance of mentoring.She made an interesting comment about the relation of neuroscientists and psychologists and their different ways of studying the mind. So when brain imaging (PET) scan came along it was a long time before psychologists were able to use this technology because the medical field had it and didn’t want to let it go.

Rebecca Saxe and Liang Young spoke in brief, about mentoring and their relations to their mentors. Both of them do not feel so much about ¨being a woman in the field” but just being in the field.

A question for me that came out of this: what is the critical mass of women where being a women ¨doesn´t matter”? that it’s “not an issue?” i.e. your self recognition of yourself as female does not come up constantly in a job with respect to promotion.

and is this a generational break in feminisms? (At least North American feminisms?)

Part II (i.e. holy crap!)

So after the talk (which was largely about these intergenerational collegial relationships) the audience had questions.One audience member asked how did white priviledge influence the panelists’ success. Actually the question was more like you all were white, how did you benefit from being white? NOTE TO SELF: the youngest panelist was Asian, i am wondering how she thought about being described as white. Rebecca Saxe intervened and said actually Liang was Chinese not white.

The issue exploded as a second questioner said that Liane Young is “basically white” because she is a model minority. (NOTE TO SELF: WTF! what is Basically White, anyway?) At this point it was actually painful to be in the room.
Another audience member intervened (fortunately) and said she appreciated the idea of ¨lineage” and mentorship ideas in this talk, and felt that should have been the main theme. Dr. Potter did some mediating on the spot, there was an awkward closing, and the group dispersed for lunch. Bottom line: 4 brilliant women in cog sci in panel, 1 audience meltdown discussion at the end.

Wow. how did this happen? Meltdown! I guess having a conference on race and gender ..is going to engage with race and gender throughout. Panelists self identifying as white or a person of color..would that help? these are hard questions and i wonder how that will unfold in future discussions.
[NOTE TO SELF: it didn’t substantially]

some notes from Panel 2

some notes from Panel 2

Racialized Bodies
Pilar Ossorio, Sandy Alexandre, David Jones, Amy Marshall

I missed Sandy Alexandres introduction..my mistake. too long at the MIT book store. I entered in the middle of Pilar Ossorio’s talk. one of her fields is developmental biology. the field in this talk was the topic of genetics, and ¨pharmacogenetics” and race in discussion of science and medicine. Ossario talked about race as a social construct, but said race can influence where people live, work, and get healthcare. She talked about the use of ‘racially differentiated biologies’ and should they exist. her theoretical influence is standpoint theory.

David Jones began his response with this question: is all of biology reducible to genetics?
He asked, how do differences accumulate on the body, and bodies. He explained Pharmacogenetics as being how genes affect drug absorbtion. He said there are other issues to be considered in that question..such as..things you eat can have an effect on drug absorbtion and so can “non compliance” ie not taking the medication. he said not enouf studies have been done on the effect of non compliance. He ended by asking should science research be directed by differences or common experiences?

Amy Marshall, another respondant, and an alumni of the Women’s and Gender studies dept at MIT talked about the problem of the definition of race in genetics.
David Jones also mentioned how it is easier to get scientific funding for genetics research (pharmacogenetics) than for studies of non-compliance.

Summary: overall a nuanced and interesting session on the issues of race and genetics in context of scientific and medical research.

Notes from panel 3

Notes from panel 3

Race, Gender, and In Vitro Fertilization in Ecuador: A reproductive economy.
Speaker: Elizabeth Roberts

Elizabeth Roberts is a medical anthropologist who did an ethnography with women in Ecuador as they got assisted reproduction. She talked about her assumptions prior to do this..that Ecuadorian women were too poor, catholic, or overpopulated to want assisted reproduction. I appreciated her sharing that..a reflexive approach.

In-vitro fertilization gained ground in the 1990’s in Ecuador. She noted that in Ecuador, there is intense privatization of health care, the public system is not good…race and class are intertwined with whether women get private or public health care.

She also noted about race in Ecuador, that race is perceived as a form of shape shifting..she claiims that it is possible to shift race over the course of one’s lifetime.i’m not sure how that can be possible.as long as color of skin is connected with perception of race. I do understand that in different countries, race has different histories, and different nuances. I wanted more details on that and less on assisted reproduction at this point.

respondant: Corrine Williamsshe talked about the ethical issues of picking the gender of a child (that was her field of study)

respondant: Rachel Dillon
she talked about transgender surgeries in relation to in-vitro fertilization, and the similarities and differences in negotiating them. For example, both surgeries tend to be out of pocket costs, so they are hard to get by lower income people (in the United States) But the differences rest in family non support for trans surgeries.
Also it is hard for trans men to get surgeries such as voluntary hystorectomies, in the United States, there are barriers for trans men to get surgeries that might stop potential reproduction.

I have to say I think both the respondants got the short end of the stick. They introduced interesting ideas that never had a chance to really get discussed in context with this panel. This could have been a conversation and interesting at that, but it should have been either just 1 speaker, or a panel of 3 with a followup.

SUMMARY: interesting talks but lost opportunity for developed dialogue.

OVERALL SUMMARY: glad i went. Awkward moments. some good conversations. Brilliant women. I did fell that it needed to be written up and posted on this blog. TOok a lot of work. I’m sure i missed some details, but did the best editing i could. Phew!

Tin Can Telecommunications at NAMAC

On the last day of NAMAC,  Astrodimers MaryAnn, sam, Bebe, and Julia (with some assistance from Walter) did a  demonstration of cutting edge tin can technology at the Park Plaza Hotel. You would be surprised how many people don’t believe tin can phones work!! Sadly we didnt have a chance to demo our Party Line or Wire tapping techniques but we did make the iCAN available. Here’s a few quicky cell phone pix..

Bebe tries out the iCAN

Bebe tries out the iCAN

Maryann and Bebe talk to themselves near the NAMAC table.

Maryann and Bebe talk to themselves near the NAMAC table.

NAMAC links and resources

Here’s a short list of interesting projects I saw and heard about at NAMAC. At the bottom of this is a picture of Ed Halter of Rhizome between two long haired people. -sam smiley


New Media Literacies at MIT:Interesting links and resources for New Media Literacy

Data as art as data. it’s ok nothing fancy but fun.

Artist Projects
Thomas Allen Harris
He is a really interesting documentarian and did a presentation of both his community and personal work. I loved his statement about “activating Black photo archives”. It’s such a great way to think about archival resources and making them come alive.

Games for Change – games about social justice

Unmonumental Online curated by Rhizome thru New Museum

Smithsonian Latino Museum online in Second Life

Scott Kirsner (fans friends and followers) kirsner@pobox.com

Grantmakers in Film and Electronic media. Mediamakers, put your grant proposals here!

Ed Halter from Rhizome between a lot of hair.

Ed Halter from Rhizome between a lot of hair.

Namac Roundup

some of my wacky notes from the conference

some of my wacky notes from the conference

I will give a quick NAMAC roundup from my perspective. NAMAC stnds for National Association of Media Arts and Culture. (http://www.NAMAC.org)It took place August 26-29 in Boston.

Basically it was a combination of largely folks who work at media arts non profits in one capacity or another, with a smaller group of media makers. There were lots of chances to make different contacts, whether it was about funding or marketing, or meeting other media groups. Sadly there were not a lot of (or any) sessions on media arts collectives and how they work but i had a chance to talk with Michael Kuetemeyer and Deb Rudman from the Termite TV collective so that was helpful. Overall..my assessment. Great place to network, but needs more humor. and wheres the DIY?

It was quite well organized with a great opening party at the MIT museum. Lots to do for folks from out of town. As a townie (of somerville, not boston really) i think NAMAC provided a good sampling of the awesome stuff in and around Boston as far as media.

By far the most useful session to me was a session run by Scott Kirsner, who has written Friends, Fans and Followers. He was very generous and forthcoming with his info, and he gave a great resource site at http://www.powertools.wikispaces.com. His talk was called Cultivating Audiences and Generating Revenue in the Digital Age¨ He was good at giving pragmatic advice with up to date info without too much hype.

I also really enjoyed the Digital Diaspora Family Reunion Road Show by filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris.

My only critique of his presentation was that i think i would love to have seen two separate presentations..the community based one of the family photos and then his own films. There was a lot to see and talk about and i think having one or the other would have left room for both presentations. By the way though i’m really excited for his new film through Through A Lens Darkly, a documentary about African American photographers. First, that is the title of a Philip K. Dick novel and i love the appropriation (knowingly or unknowingly) of the name. Also i think it looks to be an amazing film in the tradition of now deceased filmmaker Marlon Riggs, and i can not wait to see the final cut.

Anyway, this is part one of the NAMAC review..the next two parts will be our totally awesome iCAN demo at NAMAC and also a list of totally awesome art projects and resources i came away with.

also please pardon the text errors iḿ writing this on a netbook and will correct it and add pix when iḿ on a bigger computer

NAMAC state house reception

NAMAC state house reception

-sam smiley

4S EASST conference day 5

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Today the bulk of what I did was attend a great workshop and discussion about what STS does in countries (in this panel designated) to the South. I didn’t know what that meant, but suffice it to say, STS was really starting to look at issues of language, colonialism, and power in STS.

In order to really participate, I had to miss most of a panel called Queer Performances, Gay Desires: Acting with Internet Sexualities I saw Michele White’s paper on Male Panics and the Queering of Penis Enlargment and Erectile Disfunction Emails which was awesome and interesting, but given my interest in Latin American STS, post colonial applications of STS, I jumped on board the second session roundtable again for STS moves to the South.  


I saw two folks from the Latin American panel in one of the work groups, and so I joined that group-they were working on a “map” of STS future directions with regard to the “south”. When I got there, people had a large piece of white paper, a blue marker with one blue line drawn down the center. Christina invited me in and I brought out my markers, stressing that I am a media artist and thus can’t draw, or at least represent (true).I think people were waiting for me to draw their ideas, but it was sort of out of my scope.  We decided to make the map 3 D and then Arthur(?) who i had met from the earlier panel suggested we crumple the paper up.

That made a topo map which was a great idea, and I drew the peaks of the mountains. then i asked people to name words so I could draw them on the mountains. we came as a group to the idea that language is a major factor in moving “to the south”. one gentleman from Japan also asked about east and west, and so we put Japan in one of the mountains on his request. people added their own words so i was free from representing.

Arthur thought we should include the pens and paper bits as part of the “materials”. when we got there, the organizer was taping the charts up. she was about to flatten and tape our map, but then it wouldn’t have been 3-d. so i put it on a stool (sigh. pedestal). and it sat there through 2 discussions until someone knocked it down. I tried to put it back on the stool, but the stool was needed for the next person’ prop. Arthur had suggested we put it in the tree, which in retrospect was a great idea because it wouldn’t disrupt everybody else’s performance space. we did that later and it looked much better..a decent representation of our discussion. I’ll try to get pix!, words do not describe the situation.

I left before the last session, stopped at the wonderful market and got salmon and strawberries, and I proceeded to the Kunsthall. The show was OK I liked the Chinese posters, although..was intriguing. I returned the bike, got my suitcase, and headed to Eindhovan to visit my supercool friend Carmen.


going to Eindhovan

going to Eindhovan



my adventures! well worth it all.

-sam smiley

4S, EASST conference Day 4

Friday, August 22, 2008

Today I wasn’t feeling well at all..so I decided to rent a bike :-). That got my nervous energy out from the conference. I didn’t think I would be able to sit thru the first panel because my presentation was after that, but it was called Feminist Technology Studies: New Directions and it was great. Wendy Faulkner and Ulf Mellstrom chaired. I missed the first presentation entitled “Should we forget gender?”, so everyone was all steamed up by the time I got in.

Mostly women were there and some men as audience members. Conversely the panel was mostly men (I don’t know if the first panelist was male or female). So the structure of this asked: can men (having, perhaps not currently being in the body of a female) reflect accurately on the female experience of science and technology.

Wendy Faulker presented her work on how women engineers are visible as women first, then engineers. I think she should have situated this gender analysis in western culture (I do think her analysis is accurate IF it is positioned in that way.)

Pablo Schyfter presented on men and women motorcyclists in Costa Rica. He used a combination of Judith Butler and Wiebe Bjiker as theorists which I thought was interesting. I think his talk was more interesting than the title of his talk..Queering the artifact Subject, Object, and Heteronormaty. I believe Dag Balkmar also invoked Butler on his talk on Swedish drag racing. I did enjoy his talk. I love Butler’s work, and think that a theory of performity is good for STS.

In general I think to really rock the boat, a discussion of the place of trans women in feminism and STS is also effective in unseating biological ideas of feminism. Where was that in this session? Surely there have been some trans women who have contributed to science, and technology. Could that be a new direction?

The person who really did the “new directions” work of this panel for me the best was Ulf Mellstrom’s presentation: The Intersection of GEnder, Race, and Cultural Boundaries, or Why is Computer Science in Malaysia Dominated by women? I thought this was amazing because it totally unseated western enculturated ideas around female identity. I think this is the work that needs to be done in STS, because it broached the real issue in feminist studies, which is why has feminism been dominated by white women?

I presented on behalf of AstroDime at the next panel..it was fun and informative, we averted disaster when we didn’t have any computer to show astrodime’s video, and everyone else’s powerpoints, but my little EEEPC came to the rescue..it worked ok, and the panel went on without a hitch. some questions in my mind afterwords..although the tin can telecommunications has come out of STS theories such as SCOT, how do I position it to STS scholars who are primarly writers and not performance artists?

Next panel I went to was Public Understanding of Science in Europe and the USA. Pretty broad topic (perhaps to make it more comparative, less general if it has that title? and have discussion?) David Long’s paper Scientists Acting against the Creation Museum was very interesting and nuanced. The Creation Museum is a truly well funded museum in Kentucky started by Ken Han who was originally from Australia that argues against evolution, and for intelligent design. David Long’s analysis was of this protest led by scientists against the museum. He looked at both the scientists and the success of the museum which draws thousands a day. His most interesting point was that this project is “Modernizing the pre-moderns..but scientists view it as corrupted modernism” (approximate quote). All in all, really interesting.

Cathy Sullivan presented on evaluating a STEM program (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics” in the early school grades. i think STEM could be a really good connection with and to STS, but the STS academic community isn’t really aware of it as a movement in gradeschool, I think. Her presentation was interesting to me because i was familiar with it, but i think there were people there who didn’t know what it was.

I went to the plenary later on but to be honest i was so fried, i dont’ think i took anything from it except Nelly Oudshoorn’s idea that STS should look at non-users of a specific technology as well as users otherwise the data is incomplete.

The day ended at a great bar called the Locus pub (www.locus-publicus.com) and then dinner with Wendy at Bazaar, a restaurant with really good Moroccan and North African food.

4s, EASST conference Day 3

Thursday, August 21, 2008

1st panel I went to,was called Future Science, Present Fiction.

went to some great panels today. nanotechnology is a
big topic ofdiscussion.
a recommended fiction book on it is by
Michael Cricton called Swarm. Marc
Audetat had some great resources, including
CIPAST, Citizen Participation in
Science and Techology.http://www.cipast.org/
and also a site for Nanotechnology
and society http://www.unil.ch/nanopublic.
Mark Erickson mentioned this very odd
game for introducing nanotechnology to kids called Nanomission.

 went to a panel called The Mouse in Biomedical Reseearch,
there is this huge mouse selling web
site called The Jackson Laboratory where they sell
Jax (TM) transgenic mice.
they supply 2.4 million mice to researchers a year. It's
a weird study of marketing and science.
Both Monika Cwiarka  and Gail
Davies referred to it.
also the Mouse Genome project was mentioned,
can't right now remember by whom.

after lunch i went to a panel called 
Locations, Latin America. basically
some amazing discussions of completly
different STS projects in different
parts of Latin America.
 Julia Rodriguez  has just finished a
database of latin
american science..it's at www.hoslac.org.
Great resource on Latin American science and good images.
lots of other intersting
things too..did you know that
scientific research on cassava and beans
 as food crops are much less studied in
science than corn or rice. This was in a presentation
by Christina Holmes.
Two more talks on Amniocentesis in Columbia
by Maria Fernanda Olarte Sierra, and the
history of a state supported truck
factory called FNM in Brazil presented by
Ivan da Costa Marques.

at the end of the panel, the chairs
invited us all to drinks later
on. i was delighted because I had
decided after this panel to really
begin work on one of our INtransit
issues called Scientific American
and was looking forward to good conversations.

after this panel, there was Dutch Treats
time which i missed
because i was talking to someone, and
then i went back to
the hostel because i was fried and
figured i wanted to be up later
the night. when i got there,
i had been evicted from my bed!
a girl was snoring in my bunk..
deciding that i could be a nomad
i moved down the hall where i met more STS conference folks.

I rented a bike and met the folks
from the Latin American panel
at Big Ben's a weird dutch pub which
supposedly is modeled
on an english pub, but
fortunately stuck to dutch food and drinks.
that was fun! then i went on my bike
to an art event at
V2: The Institute for Unstable Media.
The event was called Hydrous,
and more work from the artists
can be found at http://diffusion.org.uk/

-sam smiley

4s, EASST conference shakedown: Day 2

Day 2 Rotterdam August 20, 2008

I had opted to  go on a
“field trip” with Wiebe E. Bijker and a busload
of STS'ers. Bijkerwrote a book called
Of Bicycles, Bakelte, and Bulbs, the first and
section of which I really enjoyed..especially
the chapter about the history of the bicyle.
He uses a theory called S.C.O.T., meaning
Social Construction of Technological objects.
Basically it uses an STS concept called symmetry,
meaning both people and objects are
equal actors in histories. and that objects are
socially constructed
and are the result of a lot of social interaction.
sounds obvious,right?
well when was the last time you wondered
who soldered the
components into your dvd player?
(uh, i do it all the time. joke)

the beach around the Delta Dam

the beach around the Delta Dam

Anyway,The Netherlands are a place where water plays a large part in the lives, and history of engineering of the country. We visited a dam project called the Delta Project, which was conceived of after floods in the 1950s and executed during the 1980's. The dams are normally open to accomodate the tides, but close when the water level reaches a certain point.
Wiebe Bijker giving us a tour inside the dam

Wiebe Bijker giving us a tour inside the dam

Bijker talked about the political and social processes of determining what the water level would be, and showed us the literal line limit that was negotiated by the Dutch parliment, balancing the interests of the ecological interests and the people who don't want to be flooded.
two different lines

two different lines

We also went to a museum and theme park, in which I saw a cool 3d movie that had nothing to do with the project. The conference day ended with an open bar at the city hall, where the mayor of Rotterdam gave us a welcome speech which i thought was cool (both open bar and mayor) The rest of the day ended with a crazy walk to a jazz club that didn't have much happenin with my roomates Vicky and Lindal and a few others. So Vicky, Lindal, and I had dinner at the Cappodocia restaurant..awesome turkish food. -sam smiley

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