Book Review

21/09/2011

The Encyclopedia of Science and Technology Communication has approximately 300 entries on science communication and is capable of meeting the needs of readers of differing profiles. The entries cover eighteen categories, including controversial science topics and tendencies of media coverage; panoramas of science communication in different regions or continents; legal and ethical aspects; important science players; history, philosophy and sociology of science; theories and research on science communication, and many other topics. By concentrating different information about a field of research and of practical multidisciplinary actions in only one source, the publication serves as a reference for beginners in the area as well as for those who are more experienced in the area. Although conceptualized to serve as quick introductions to the concepts and practices of science communication, the entries are contextualized and each item is explored from various angles in simple language.

21/12/2010

Eduard Kaeser has written an interesting and critical book that is concerned with the connections between science and everyday life. The conception of ‘pop science’ is introduced to characterize developments in science popularisation that are spectacular, superficial and potentially harmful to science-society relationships. The book is of special interest to the science communication community, since it may initiate discussion about the purposes of communicating science, and also about legitimate and illegitimate strategies and means of doing so.

22/03/2010

The Makers is the latest novel of the American science fiction writer, blogger and Silicon Valley intellectual Cory Doctorow. Set in the 2010s, the novel describes the possible impact of the present trend towards the migration of modes of production and organization that have emerged online into the sphere of material production. Called New Work, this movement is indebted to a new maker culture that attracts people into a kind of neo-artisan, high tech mode of production. The question is: can a corporate-funded New Work movement be sustainable? Doctorow seems to suggest that a capitalist economy of abundance is unsustainable because it tends to restrict the reach of its value flows to a privileged managerial elite.

30/10/2009

In his latest book titled “Communication power”, the famous sociologist of information society Manuel Castells focuses on the way in which power takes shape and acts in information societies, and the role of communication in defining, structuring, and changing it. From the rise of “mass self-communication” to the role of environmental movements and neuropolitics, the network is the key structure at play and the main lens used to analyse the transformations we are witnessing. To support his thesis Castells links media studies, power theory and brain science, but his insistence on networks puts in danger his ability to give to his readers a comprehensive and coherent interpretative framework.

21/09/2009

The volume “Il libro contemporaneo” (The Contemporary Book) by Giuseppe Vitiello offers a global view of the “book” as a model and as an instrument of communication and for learning in the society of knowledge; it specifically deals with scientific editorial communication, through a complete and systematic reconstruction of the bodies involved, of the production and dissemination processes, also in the framework of the technological changes pushed by new media. In particular, the author critically analyzes some relevant aspects such as the role played by the journal as the most relevant mean for scientific knowledge dissemination, the scientific writer figure, the strengthening of large publishing groups and the challenge open access implies.

21/09/2009

In January this year, the US saw the publication of the preview of an impressive review work on the practices and the studies concerning learning science outside schools and universities, i.e. what is referred to as informal education. The document, promoted by the National Science Council of scientific academies (National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine), is the result of the work by a committee comprising 14 specialists who collected, discussed and then organized hundreds of documents on pedagogical premises, places, practices and pursuits concerning scientific informal education. Nobody doubts that museums, magazines, after-school activities, science festivals and any other science communication offers have a positive impact on the people’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviours. But what do we really know about what actually happens in these experiences? What sense should be given to the word “learning” in these cases? Do the different communication tools or environments have also a different impact? What factors make them more or less effective? These are the main questions the document wants to answer, carefully evaluating the present state of the art.

19/06/2009

The climate change issue has become increasingly present in our society in the last decade and central also to communication studies. In the e-book “Communicating Climate Change: Discourses, Mediations and Perceptions”, edited by Anabela Carvalho, various scholars investigate how climate change challenges communication by looking at three main aspects: the discourses of a variety of social actors on climate change; the reconstruction of those discourses in the media; the citizens’ perceptions, understandings and attitudes in relation to climate change.

20/03/2009

“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.

20/03/2009

In his latest book “The scientific life. A moral history of a late modern vocation”, the social historian of science Steven Shapin addresses the public image of contemporary scientists, their virtues and vocations. Who are, and how they represent themselves, those scientists who work on the edge between industry and academy, and who are responsible for the radical uncertainty embedded in the contemporary production of scientific knowledge? If “people matter”, as Shapin states, the genealogy he provides should encourage us to dig more deeply in the main stage of the virtues and ethos of scientists: the mass media.

19/12/2008

In 2008 two collections were published: the Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology, edited by Massimiano Bucchi and Brian Trench, and Communicating Science in Social Contexts: New models, new practices, edited by Donghong Cheng and five other scholars from China, Canada, Belgium and Australia. These books try to define and draw the boundaries of science communication’s field from both a theoretical and empirical point of view. But do we need to establish it as a distinct research field? For a number of decades, a growing community of scholars and communicators is trying to reply positively to this question, but the need to look outside the disciplinary boundaries, to other academic fields, is still vital.

Pages

Subscribe to Book Review