I wrote last week about the 3rd annual UK conference on ‘Science and the Public’ to be held in Manchester, 21-22 June. I thought I had missed the dead-line, but it turned out they had extended it, so I sent in an abstract—and to my pleasure it’s just been accepted by the program committee. Here you are:
Science blogging, singularities, and the multitude of technoscience
Within the last couple of years, blogging has emerged as a new genre for STM communication. The number of medical blogs and science blogs is growing exponentially, and famous science blogs like The Daily Transcript, In the Pipeline, MedGadgets, and Partial Immobilizaton have tens of thousands of readers each week. How can the rise of science blogging as an alternative form of science com-munication be understood? Is it best understood in terms of ’science’ and ‘the public’, or does the science blogging phenomenon suggest other, more critically based, dichotomies? In this paper I will argue that science blogging is better understood in terms of Michael Hardt’s and Tony Negri’s conceptualisation of globalisation in terms of ‘Empire’ and ‘Multitude’. Science is financed and managed by a network of national and transnational state organisations and corporations, while the overwhelming number of laboratory and field workers constitute a global knowledge proletariat. These different positions in the global technoscientific field entail two different domains of communication practices which correspond, roughly, to the cultures of ‘Empire’ and ‘Multitude’, respectively. Blogs can thus be intepreted as ’singularities’: there are few group blogs, and even fewer corporate, organisational or national blogs. The large majority of blogs don’t represent any movements, parties, institutions or organisations; instead they function, in a Deleuzian sense, as ”an escape from the dominant codes and majoritarian categories—including those of ‘identity politics’—that otherwise trap the singular in passive or static relations” (Tormey, 2006). Yet blogs are not individualistic in a traditional way: many bloggers identify themselves by pseudonyms. Nor are they solipsistic: there is a high degree of cross-linking between blogs. Furthermore the current dominant mode of thinking among bloggers is (at least now) one of criticism and resistance.