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".
Florence's La Specola Museum stirs up strong emotions. Among its collections, the valuable anatomical wax models created between the end of 17th and the beginning of 18th century stand out owing to their marvellous and provocative nature. The aim of this essay is to analyse the communication models epitomised by some of these works by means of historical semiotics, to nourish the widespread, but often underestimated assumption that science and the means used to spread it have always been influenced by intellectual suppositions and constantly interact with contemporary culture.
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.
Several researchers operating in the sociological field have recently theorised that genetics and biotechnologies are at the core of the public perception of science. The present study aims at verifying empirically whether or not this is mirrored in Italian mass media, as well as at analysing the topics most frequently present in Italian newspapers and the economic and editorial reasons behind the results of editorial choices. Besides, it provides statistics about the major Italian newspapers published in the last third of 2002. This period has been chosen because some important news was published in December: it consequently offered the chance to carry out a long-term analysis as well as a study of the most important differences - in content and editorial lay-out - between scientific articles which are published in the appropriate sections inside the newspaper and those which make the front page. Ours are going to be purely quantitative considerations; but, from the point of view of the content, the data are sufficient to identify various narrative currents. These currents could be the object of further research on the frames used to contextualize the news and the reasons (anthropological, socio-cultural and editorial) for the way they are used by editorial staffs.
If we wish to attempt an initial analysis of the inquiry on the communication of science in Brazil, India and China that JCOM proposed in its three most recent issues, we should paraphrase Chinese science and science-fiction writer, Yan Wu: even though these three countries are emerging in the fields of economy and science, and are now part of a wide group of communicators, promoting numerous methods to divulge information, they don't yet have a sound theory on the communication of science to the public. This is not an insignificant problem because according to David Dickson, the director of SciDev.Net, democratic dialogue on scientific matters is crucial to modern societies. However, it is difficult to propose the highest possible level of democratic dialogue on science topics without having a sound theory about the communication of science. In addition, the difficulties increase in those countries where developing economies and systems of science are both new and impetuous, as is the case of Brazil, India and China.
How does knowledge sharing affect scientists' everyday work in developing countries? And how important is it for the development not only of new scientific research, but also for improving the living conditions of local inhabitants? These are the questions that a group of scientists met to discuss during an international workshop on Knowledge Sharing for Local Development in the South held in Trieste, Italy (4-6 July 2005). Based on their personal experiences, their thoughts and opinions create an interesting insight into new practices for the public communication of science, medicine and technology from a point of view that is often under-estimated: the one of the scientists themselves. The workshop, organized by the Third World Network of Scientific Organizations (TWNSO) and the United Nations Development Programme's Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (UNDP-SSC), showcased 15 case studies that utilized a variety of knowledge sharing methods, and, in doing so, highlighted the critical role that knowledge sharing plays in sustainable development. For more information: http://www.twnso.org
While the model for transmitting scientific information a model that attributes the effects of a message on the public to the intent of the communicator mediated by text is increasingly becoming an exclusive tool for communication novices, other alternative models are emerging and most importantly field research is being tested and examined.