Showing posts with label Lee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lee. Show all posts

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The High Quality Research Act: Searching for Ways Beyond "Politicization"

This post is a continuation of our on-going discussion here at American Science of Rep. Lamar Smith's High Quality Research Act (HQRA), which would cut the National Science Foundation's funding to certain kinds of research, especially in the social sciences.

It was only a matter of time before someone dropped the p-word, "politicization," in discussions of the HQRA. It's a word that haunts these kinds of topics. The first appearance of the word in this context that I noticed was in this post by Michael McAuliff and Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post.

I want to question and probe their discussion.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The High Quality Research Act: A Steaming Plate of Democracy, or Careful What You Wish For!!

I'd like to build on Hank's post from yesterday, which looked at Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Smith's potential legislation, the "High Quality Research Act" (HQRA), which would curtail research spending on certain kinds of research at the National Science Foundation. This article nicely spells out the basic contours of the story. Rep. Smith is particularly interested in cutting funding to research in the social sciences, unless it makes contributions to economic development and national security. What has mostly gone un-mentioned in recent news articles is that most of the cuts will likely effect the NSF's program in science and technology studies (STS), a field in which I and most other authors of this blog work. Hank did a nice job in his post of connecting this law to two long-standing themes in STS, namely the so-called Science Wars and peer review. I would like to take this issue in a slightly different direction by focusing on STS writing on democracy.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Should Online Communities Have Rights?

On November 30th, 2012, NCsoft, a South Korea-based video game maker, shutdown one of its digital properties, a massive multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG), City of Heroes. Its community of gamers, many of whom had played the game for several years, had earlier reacted with startled indignation when the closure was announced. Indeed, some held in-game protests in front of City Hall in the game's fictional capital; they called it Occupy Paragon City. (You can see video of one of the protests, along with live commentary, here.)

An In-Game Protest in the MMORPG City of Heroes

I never played City of Heroes, nor have I had much interaction with the MMORPG scene, but in this post, I want to consider some of the interesting developments around technology and community in the City of Heroes story. And I want to ask the question: should online communities have rights?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lovecraft, Science, and Epistemic Subcultures

For my first post, I want to build on discussions about literature and science that Hank, Joanna, and Dan had earlier, here and here. H. P. Lovecraft (1890–1937) wrote a series of stories for magazines such as Weird Tales during the 1920s and early 1930s, before science fiction, horror, and fantasy split into distinct genres.  He set his stories in old, decaying East Coast towns, not unlike his home, Providence, RI, and nearby small hamlets that he knew well. He filled his tales with plot devices—like archaic, mysterious texts and secret societies—that remain stock-in-trade for genre writers today. His monsters are enormous and sublime; they leave his characters whimpering with shattered minds. Yet, for all of his silliness and shortcomings, like Dickens, Kafka, and Poe, Lovecraft created an ambiance and tone that is distinctively his own. 

People have long known and written about Lovecraft’s fascination with science.  Beginning in 1914, he began writing astronomical columns for a local Providence newspaper. His understanding of the universe as a vast expanse indifferent to human desires informs his tales in which characters cower before giant and ancient beasts, realizing in these moments their ultimate insignificance in the great scope of things. That is, contemporary science strongly shaped what Lovecraft’s critics refer to as his “cosmic horror.”