Following on the heels of last week’s (posts of Feb. 18, 19, 20, 2010) interview with Cheryl Geisler, dean of the new Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology (FCAT) at Simon Fraser University (SFU), I received news of the latest SFU grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), two of which (from a total of five for SFU) are directed to schools associated with the faculty. From the press release,
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) awarded just over $2.1 million collectively to the five SFU projects as a result of its 2009-2010 Strategic Project Grants and New Media Initiative competition. The university submitted 28 applications to the competition, achieving its greatest success rate (66.67 per cent) in the New Media category.
NSERC awarded $18.3 million to 122 research projects across the country.
Philippe Pasquier, Musical Metacreation: Software Creativity and Creative Software, $340,000. Pasquier, an artificial intelligence researcher, and Arne Eigenfeldt, an SFU computer music composer are exploring and defining the boundaries of musical metacreation. A metacreation is software that uses artificial intelligence and cognitive modeling to display human-like creative behaviours. Their grant has leveraged another $148,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Lyn Bartram, Meaning from Motion for Interaction and Visualization, $368,680. Along with choreographer Thecla Schiphorst and game studies professor Magy Seif El-Nasr, Bartram is exploring the use of motion to communicate information, express emotion and stimulate visualization in immersive environments and gaming.
Researchers whose work dovetails with the federal government’s research funding priorities faired the best in this competition. Those priorities are advanced communications and information management; healthy environment and ecosystems; sustainable energy systems and competitive manufacturing.
I’ve mentioned FCAT as the two grants listed here are going to members of that faculty in its School of Interactive Arts and Technology. I checked out the grant award winners on the SFU website, Phillipe Pasquier, Arne Eigenfeldt, Lyn Bartram, Thecla Schiphorst, and Dr. Magy Seif El-Nasr. On another note, it was a bit of a surprise to find this on Dr. Seif El-Nasr’s About Me page,
She has several years of experience engaged in consulting activities as well as speaking in different companies. She provides consulting and speaking services nationally and internationally. For rates please contact her at magy at sfu.ca
To be fair, the others may also have similar notices somewhere on one of their pages (although I did check all of the About/About Me and/or in some cases CV pages).
I have a few issues with this advertisement. First, it’s unclear to me if this is a personal enterprise or an SFU enterprise. On the consulting side of this business, I think a case could be made that it is the expertise and ability which is being contracted. As for the speaking side of the business, I would expect that she’s not charging people to hear about her publicly funded research. In my book, the public should have open access to the research that it has funded.
On a completely other note (musical reference intended, as per the first NSERC grant), Disney is going nano. The National Science Foundation announced (from the press release),
A new long-term exhibition at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fl., will bring visitors face to face with the nanoworld.
Housed in the Innoventions pavilion at Epcot Center, the exhibition Take a Nanooze Break features a series of interactive, continually updated displays that allow visitors to manipulate models of molecules, study everyday items at the nanoscale, and interact with scientists and engineers who conduct the latest nano research.
“The experience is immersive and gives guests a number of ways to view a world that is too small to see,” says Carl Batt of Cornell University, the lead researcher for the project. “It also gives guests a view of nanotechnology from real scientists”
“Nanotechnology will bring multiple, fundamental changes to the way we work to create goods, develop sustainable approaches, advance medicine and improve quality of life.,” says Mike Roco, senior advisor for nanotechnology at NSF. “About $80 billion worth of products incorporated nanoscale components in the United States in 2010, and one can envision mass use of nanotechnology by 2020. The Nanooze exhibition informs and inspires the public about this fast-arriving future society.”
This Disney attraction takes its name from Nanooze, a website/magazine for children. From the About page,
Nanooze is a magazine that has been created to get kids excited about science and especially nanotechnology . We have an editorial board that helps us figure out what to do. The world that is too small to see is full of interesting stuff. Scientists and engineers are beginning to understand this world and learning how to change things at the nanoscale level.
The magazine which is supported by the US National Science Foundation and the University of Cornell’s (US) Nanoscale Science and Technology Facility seems to have been started in 2005.
Hearkening back to the Nanooze attraction and its focus on our “fast-arriving future society,” I stumbled across this article, Futures Thinking: Writing Scenarios, by Jamais Cascio on Fast Company. From the article,
The three styles I used for these scenarios can be categorized as “Scenario-as-Story,” “Scenario-as-Recollection,” and “Scenario-as-History.”
In Scenario-as-Story, the presentation is similar to that of a work of fiction. Named characters operate in a lightweight plot, but in doing so engage in behaviors that display key aspects of the scenario …
… The advantage of the Scenario-as-Story approach is that fiction is a familiar presentation language for readers, and they can more readily grasp the changes to one’s life that emerge from the scenario. A story model lets you describe some of the more nuanced aspects of a scenaric future. The disadvantage is that, generally speaking, scenarios are lousy fiction. Even the best-written scenario stories generally wouldn’t pass muster with a fiction editor. A more difficult problem stems from differing views on human behavior–if the character in the scenario story does something off-putting or inexplicable, the reader will find it harder to accept the rest of the scenario.
You can read a sample of the fiction scenario in Cascio’s article where he also offers a PDF download of the full three scenarios. I’m not sure I buy his comment about readers finding it difficult to accept a scenario if a character “does something off-putting or inexplicable”. It sounds like more poor fiction. You can have your characters do anything as long as you set it up properly [ETA Feb.25.10: and your readers, or most of them, will follow you}. At any rate, this whole thing reminded me of an item I posted last year (here) about the Canadian military hiring a science fiction writer (Karl Schroeder) to create a book about a future military crisis. By the way, he included nanotechnology applications in his fictional scenario/book.