Starting with the safety legislation…May 7, 2008, the US House of Representatives passed a motion to strengthen research into nanotechnology safety according to the US government website here. Some of the headlines in blogosphere seemed to suggest that they had actually passed regulations but headlines can be a little misleading. In fact, the amendment also directs the National Nanotechnology Initiative (it seems to be an umbrella agency for US nanotech research) to focus on moving the research out of the labs and into commercial applications while finding ways to attract more students to study nanotechnology. Hmmm….how do you get commercial production going and study safety issues simultaneously? Generally speaking, safer means slower.
Meanwhile, I came across the AdorageMD skin care line. They bill it as skin couture and their formula developed using nanotechnology. These products were included in the gift bags for the movie stars who went to the Oscars earlier this year. I find it fascinating that the company name suggests medical involvement. Plus I found a description of their products on a health care website here. You’d think there’d be some kind of critique on a health care website but you’d be wrong (as was I).
All of this is more fodder for the paper I’m writing about nano and risk, although I’m focused on popular culture (hence the interest in AdorageMD and the movie stars). One other comment, if you look back at other kinds of technology adoption e.g. electricity, you’ll find similarities with discussions taking place today.
Oh, there is some Canadian nanotechnolgy news today…the Ontario government is building a quantum computing and nanotechnology research facility at the University of Waterloo. It’s going be called the Quantum-Nano Centre.
Vancouver broke a 1954 record for coldest day in June and that happened during the congress (which itself ended this Sunday, June 8, 2008). The last day of the CATTW conference (June 3, 2008) part of the congress produced something very interesting for me. Somebody called Christine Penner did a presentation on a technical manual called “Why’s (poignant) Guide to Ruby” (it’s a programming language) and analyzed according to Mikhail Bakhtin’s theories. The use of multiple voices and styles as well as humour were all related to Bakhtin, plus there was actual technical information in the guide. I’m thinking this might be helpful as I put together my nanotech wiki.
Plus, I checked out So Misguided which bills itself as a Canadian book blog and this time found some information on multimedia books. Monique Trottier (So Misguided blogger) is talking about a Quillr called “Here Ends the Beginning” by Nicola Furlong (who coined the word Quillr to describe her multimedia book). Trottier provides some links to other multimedia books including some award-winning nonfiction.
All of this (developing my wiki, Bakhtin’s theories, and the quillr) has gotten me to thinking about the relationship between the reader and the author. The wiki and quillr require a lot more work than a print book from the reader and the wiki even offers the possibility of turning a reader into an author. Bakhtin offers the notion of multiple voices and dialogue. If I understand the theory rightly, language only exists as a form of dialogue which the wiki would make clearly visible.
As for Canadian nanotechnology, there doesn’t seem to be any today.
My presentation has been made. The good stuff: lots of interesting ideas and I got more practice and talking about nanotechnology. To be improved on: more coherence. The funny thing is that I was talking about nonlinear presentation of ideas and that’s pretty much what I gave them. As for the Canadian Association of Teachers of Technical Writing, it’s an interesting little group. I had thought that some of these people had been technical writers i.e. had worked in the field. After yesterday I have a strong suspicion that’s not the case for most of them. I will test that hypothesis over the next few days.
Today I’m attending two of the special Congress presentations. I’m particularly interested in the guy (John Mile Foley) who’s talking about oral culture and the Internet. Plus, there’s a session about teaching science in the 21st century with Carl Weiman. I suspect that’s going to be oriented to science profs and not informal science education.
This congress hasn’t gotten lots of coverage in the local papers. There are 10,000 or 9,000 expected to attend this event and they all went to student services for lunch yesterday and I have suspicion today will be busier.