Fake News, Science, and Journalism

Fake News, Science, and Journalism

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke at an event hosted by the British Association of Science Writers focused on Fake News and Scientific Journalism. I was anxious first to draw our attention to the absurdity of this discussion, as it has been inflicted on us by Trump and his ridiculous accusations of fake news towards established, credible media organizations.

Anyway, moving on, we are here, the discourse has taken off and shone a light on how news information becomes indistinguishable from blatantly fake news, but also how it becomes blurred with entertainment.

My main concern in this is are the squeeze that printed press face, as a result of the social media era. We need to find better ways to support investigative journalism, but we also need to understand how people encounter news information across their day and across different devices. Otherwise, we are failing to take into account how this affects their receptiveness to certain media formats, or just the cognitive process that operates around such journeys. 

A few weeks ago, we created the Library of Fake News as an installation for the Manchester Science Festival and I believe we need libraries to help us navigate this complex world of web news, where bottom line interests dominate all stakeholders. Libraries may be our only independent public institution that can help us wade through the noise and figure out what's really going on in the world.

 

 

What Spider-Man needs to eat for breakfast

What Spider-Man needs to eat for breakfast

The edited volume by myself and Mark Lorch received interest from the Mirror last week in an article which outlines the book we published earlier in the year with the Royal Society of Chemistry. Check it out here

The book was published out of a book sprint we conducted during Manchester Science Festival in 2016 and has been getting some great reviews, including one from Nature.

GATTACA 20 years later

GATTACA 20 years later

Last week, I took part in a debate hosted by Luke Robert Mason of Virtual Futures, which focused on the legacy and impact of GATTACA. We covered everything from CRISPR Cas9 to film theory and the challenge of speculative ethics. 

It was fantastic to have put this together with Luke, as the film is such a remarkable examination of a potential future, where the prospect of genetic perfection is taken seriously. Having worked in bioethics for nearly 20 years now, it feels still like a really pressing subject, which we haven't quite figured out still.

 

Tomorrow's World Live - ROBOTS

Tomorrow's World Live - ROBOTS

This week, I took part in a TW Live event at the Museum of Science and Industry. You can watch the recording here.

Manchester Science Festival 2017

Manchester Science Festival 2017

This is probably the biggest event in my calendar and it's happening over the next week! My role is to work with a great team at Salford Uni to develop, design, curate, and produce a programme of work for the Festival. As Educational Sponsor, we put a lot of work into this and it's huge this year. Headlines for me personally including having our VC open the festival at the main launch, spread of budget investment across 4 schools and various other units, over 50 staff members involved in delivery, about the same number of students, and some really creative, innovative events. 

The biggest one in terms of production for us is the GameLab, which happens weekend of 21/22 October. Here's a quick glimpse of it...

We also have the Annual Lecture in Science Communication, given by Jon Chase this year, winner of the Josh Award. You can sign up for that here

Our whole programme can be found at our #SciComm Space website and it's huge!

GameLab at Manchester Science Festival

GameLab at Manchester Science Festival

Really excited to announce our GameLab weekender for the opening of Manchester Science Festival. Here's a quick overview.  Working with VR Manchester to pull together this amazing event, which will include a citizen science showcase, VR demos, game experiences, science showing off, an eSport space, and a VR Gym. You can come for a drop in experience 21-22 Oct at our Media City building in Salford, 11am-5pm, or if you are a hard core VR person, sign up to a more formal programme here

 

 

The Future of Work

The Future of Work

Last month, I interviewed for Glamour Magazine about the future of jobs. It's a fun piece covering everything from VR directors to prosthetic technicians!

The Secret Science of Superheroes

The Secret Science of Superheroes

Amazing to have received my copy of my new book, co-edited with Professor Mark Lorch. He and I cooked up a book sprint in Manchester Science Festival with some of the best people in the business to produce a fun book around the science behind superhero skills! It was published by the Royal Society of Chemistry and covers everything from Wonder Woman's lasso to what Spiderman eats for breakfast. You can find the book on Amazon, or at the RSC.

A day at Buckingham Palace

A day at Buckingham Palace

Yesterday, I accompanied my Vice Chancellor to a private audience with HRH Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace, along with our Registrar Alison Blackburn and civil engineer and all round  Here's the internal comms story we put out....

On Tuesday (18th July) Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Marshall visited Buckingham Palace for a royal audience with Prince Philip in celebration of our 50th anniversary. Helen, along with University Registrar Alison Blackburn, Chair in Science Communication and Future Media Professor Andy Miah and Lecturer from the School of Computing, Science and Engineering Neil Currie, had the rare opportunity of meeting with the Duke of Edinburgh to discuss our recent successes and plans for the future.  

As you may be aware, the Prince has had a long-standing affiliation with the University and was our first ever Chancellor who remained in post until 1991. He spoke fondly of the times he has visited Salford over the years and how impressed he has always been with our strong industry links. The Prince was interested to hear about our growing collaborations in the region, along with our drive for public engagement programmes like the Manchester Science Festival.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Marshall said: “Prince Philip being our first ever Chancellor made this special engagement at the Palace especially poignant. He has always had a very close relationship with the University so I welcomed the opportunity to meet with him just before his retirement. I was delighted to tell him about our strong employment figures and update him on our vision of the future in this, our 50th anniversary year.”

Professor Andy Miah added: “What came across to me was that, while figures like the Duke of Edinburgh have countless patronages and public roles, it felt like he truly cared about his contribution to our University. Salford was a place he could talk about with strong recollections and a sense of purpose about what the university could do.”

We'll leave you with this great image Andy took of the team outside the Palace gates which get top marks for aesthetics..

Google Glass  - my research

Google Glass - my research

I am in the process of completing an article and am now thinking about to which journal I will submit it, so I thought I'd put out a teaser of its structure and seek opinions/interest. It is broadly about the future of wearable/implantable technology and takes the period of working with Google Glass as an insight into this world, drawing on a range of datasets. It is based on 2 years of work with Glass from 2013-2015 and the article is likely to be about 10,000 words. I'm expecting to finish it over the summer and am interested in editors who might like to receive a submission. If that's you, please get in touch. And here's a link to some of the more informal experiments, along with a talk I gave at Google HQ about the subject.

 

 

Ok Glass?  
The Aspirations and Anxieties of the
Google Glass Generation. 

Abstract

This article explores the two-year period in which Google Glass was promoted publicly and released commercially on an Open Beta ‘explorer’ basis (2013-2015). It examines the aspirations of the developers and advocates and the anxieties of of (potential) user groups and eventual reactions of new users, to understand how people imagine the impact of and experience wearable technologies. The research draws on six datasets, which consist of YouTube videos, tweets from Twitter, and video recordings of user, to create an impression of what took place around the emergence of Glass. Together, the datasets create a complex device ethnography of Glass, which speak to its imagined transformative potential and a future where wearable technologies generally, which foreground a new research agenda for digital culture scholars.

 

Introduction

The Limits of Digital Design

Methodology

Background on the Google Glass Experiments

How Glass Worked

What Could Glass Do?

Findings

What Google Wanted from Glass

How ‘Explorers’ Used Glass

How Customers Imagined Glass

How Parody Explained User Anxieties

What People Saw Through Glass

The First 10 Seconds of Glass Experience

Discussion

Google Glass: The Story so Far

Conclusion: Was Google Glass a Failure?

Digital Health

Digital Health

Last week, I was in Bath for an ESRC seminar about Digital Health and the Older Generation, set up by Cassie Phoenix. Within my closing talk for the day, I was able to get into the many ways that healthcare is being transformed through digital systems, mobile culture, artificial intelligence, and ingestible sensors. The latest article I wrote on this was published in Health Sociology Review and is with my colleague Dr Emma Rich, with whom we presently have a Wellcome Trust grant to explore how young people use digital environments to make sense of health.

Humanity 2.0

Humanity 2.0

In April, I gave a talk for the World Anti-Doping Commentary project, a legal initiative based in Switzerland. Their team has been preparing the first ever legal commentary on the World Anti-Doping Code and cases that surround its work.

I was asked to give a talk about what is a critical ethical issue of our time and so used this opportunity to reflect on where I have been and what I have learned over the years. The text from my talk will be published as an official stenographer's write up, but here's are the slides from the talk. It tries to lay out the context in which anti-doping finds itself between a rock and a hard place. I remain convinced that it's on its way to becoming redundant as a mission, but there's a lot more that will need to change before we reach this point.

Designing Sport's BioDigital Future #DSI17

Designing Sport's BioDigital Future #DSI17

Today, I am speaking at the Digital Sport Innovation event at Hotel Football. My talk focused on a proposition to create an Augmented Reality Gym, which brings together a range of interests I have in eSport, mHealth, Cities, Events and social media. Here's a glimpse into what that might look like.

Biodesign in the Antropocene

Biodesign in the Antropocene

Last week, I gave a talk for the MA Material Futures at Central St Martins, London. I gave a talk for them a few years ago and it was a real pleasure to return. Here's my manuscript from the talk.

RIP Gustav Metzger

RIP Gustav Metzger

 

I have always loved the way that photography opens up the world to me and the passing of pioneering artist Gustav Metzger has brought me closer to his work. I saw him in 2009 as part of an audience with Marina Abramovich and, since his death, I have enjoyed reading all of the articles about his work, which include the image I took back then, which was added to his Wikipedia Age. Here is a selection of them:

Art News

"Gustav Metzger, the German-born British artist whose work exposes modern society’s will to destroy people and things, has died, according to Andrew Wilson, a Tate curator, who announced the news on Twitter. He was 90."
“Self-destructive painting, sculpture, and construction is a total unity of idea, site, form, colour, method, and timing of the disintegrative process,”

Art Information Network 

"When I saw the Nazis march, I saw machine-like people and the power of the Nazi state. Auto-destructive art is to do with rejecting power.”

Jewish Press

“artists have a special part to play in opposing extinction, if only on a theoretical, intellectual basis."