Tag Archives: technology

Upcoming PoetryFilm appearances and events

It’s been a while since I last (in a March 17, 2015 post) featured PoetryFilm. Here’s the latest from the organization’s Oct. 2015 newsletter,

  • I have been invited to join the International Jury for the CYCLOP International Videopoetry Festival, 20-22 November 2015 (Kiev, Ukraine)
  • PoetryFilm Paradox events, featuring poetry films about love, as part of the BFI LOVE season, 6 and 22 December 2015 (London, UK)
  • PoetryFilm screening + Zata Banks in conversation with filmmaker Roxana Vilk at The Scottish Poetry Library, 3 December 2015 (Scotland, UK)
  • I have been invited to judge the Carbon Culture Review poetry film competition (USA)
  • poetryfilmkanal in Germany recently invited me to write an article about the poetry film artform – it can be read here

FYI, the “I” in the announcement’s text is for Zata Banks, the founder and director of PoetryFilm since 2002.

There’s more about the CYCLOP International Videopoetry Festival in a Sept. 13, 2015 posting on the PoetryFilm website,

*The 5th CYCLOP International Videopoetry Festival will take place on 20 – 22 November 2015 in Ukraine (Kyiv). The festival programme features video poetry-related lectures, workshops, round tables, discussions, presentations of international contests and festivals, as well as a demonstration of the best examples of Ukrainian and world videopoetry, a competitive programme, an awards ceremony and other related projects.

One of the projects is a new Contest for International poetry films within the framework of the CYCLOP festival. The International Jury: Alastair Cook (Filmpoem Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland), Zata Banks (PoetryFilm, London, United Kingdom), Javier Robledo (VideoBardo, Buenos Aires, Argentina), John Bennet (videopoet, USA),  Alice Lyons (Videopoet, Sligo, Ireland), Sigrun Hoellrigl (Art Visuals & Poetry, Vienna, Austria), Lucy English (Liberated Words, Bristol, United Kingdom), Tom Konyves (poet, video producer, educator and a pioneer in the field of videopoetry, British Columbia, Canada), Polina Horodyska (CYCLOP Videopoetry Festival, Kyiv, Ukraine) and Thomas Zandegiacomo (ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, Berlin, Germany).

*Copy taken from the CYCLOP website

You can find the CYCLOP website here but you will need Ukrainian language reading skills.

I can’t find a website for the Carbon Culture Review poetry film competition or a webpage for it on the Carbon Culture Review website but  here’s what they have to say about themselves on the journal’s About page,

Carbon Culture Review is a journal at the intersection of new literature, art, technology and contemporary culture. We define culture broadly as the values, attitudes, actions and inventions of our global society and its subcultures in our modern age. Carbon Culture Review is distributed in the United States and countries throughout the world by Publisher’s Distribution Group, Inc. and Annas International as well as digitally through 0s&1s, Magzter and Amazon. CCR is a member of Councils of Literary Magazines and Presses and also publishes monthly online issues.

The last item from the announcement that I’m highlighting is Zata’s essay for poetryfilmkanal ,

Poetry films offer creative opportunities for exploring new semiotic modes and for communicating messages and meanings in innovative ways. Poetry films open up new methods of engagement, new audiences, and new means of self-expression, and also provide rich potential for the creation, perception and experience of emotion and meaning.

We are surrounded by communicative signs in literature, art, culture and in the world at large. Whilst words represent one system of communicating, there are many other ways of making meanings, for instance, colour semiotics, typographic design, and haptic, olfactive, gustatory and durational experiences – indeed, a comprehensive list could be infinite. The uses of spoken and written words to communicate represent just two approaches among many. Through using meaning-making systems other than words, by communicating without words, or by not using words alone, we can bypass these direct signifiers and tap directly into pools of meaning, or the signifieds, associated with those words. Different combinations of systems, or modes, can reinforce each other, render meanings more complex and subtle, or contrast with each other to illuminate different perspectives. Powerful juxtapositions, associations and new meanings can therefore emerge.

The essay is a good introduction for beginners and a good refresher for those in need. Btw, I understand Zata got married in March 2015. Congratulations to Zata and Joe!

Pop up event based on European Commission’s Science: It’s a girl thing on July 27, 2012 in Vancouver (Canada)

The Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST) will be holding a free ‘pop up’ event at Joey’s on Broadway (1424 W. Broadway at Hemlock St.) on Friday, July 27, 2012 from 6 pm – 8 pm.This event is a local outcome of the international discussion taking place about the European Commissions’ Science: It’s a Girl Thing campaign video (first mentioned in my July 6, 2012 posting and then in my July 18, 2012 posting).

Here’s more about the Vancouver topic and the event (from the July 20, 2012 posting on the Westcoast Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology (WWEST) blog on the University of British Columbia website),

Topic: It’s a girl thing: How do we get more girls to pursue STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] careers?

What is a SCWIST Pop-Up Discussion? A casual evening of networking, socializing, and discussion on current and relevant media topics held at a local restaurant! It’s a chance to get out and chat and network with like-minded people!

There’s also information abut th4 event on the SCWIST  Facebook page.

Canadian government announces science and technology funds for 2010/11 fiscal year

According to a news item on CBC News, Ottawa will be spending $11.7B next year on science and technology. From the news item,

The government said that $5.9 billion will be allocated to departments and agencies within the federal government while other sectors will receive $5.8 billion. These sectors include higher education, business and non-profit and foreign groups.

The plans include spending $7.4 billion on research and development and $4.3 billion on gathering and synthesizing data, information services, museum services, policy studies and education.

Three-quarters of the government’s proposed spending will be directed to natural sciences and one-quarter toward social sciences and humanities.

I assume the recent $2M investment announced on October 8, 2010 for Alberta’s nanotechnology sector (more details in my Oct. 11, 2010 posting) will be coming out of this $11.7B budget for science and technology.

Quick peek at nanotechnologies and food report from UK House of Lords

After getting  an advance copy of the new report from the UK’s House of Lords Science, Technology and Industry Committee (mentioned in my post of Jan.5.10), I spent a good chunk of the day reading it. These are fast impressions:

  • it seemed quite thorough relative to the scope of the investigation and from the perspective of a Canadian who hasn’t seen her own government investigate and make public information about the state of any nanotechnology research, I found this to be quite refreshing
  • there was something strange about the benefits and that strangeness was the focus on obesity and waste…much else is mentioned but obesity and waste (i.e. reducing both) are strongly emphasized as possible areas where benefits could be experienced.
  • secrecy on the part of the food industry’s nanotechnology research was noted and discussed at length with an analysis that was both sympathetic to the industry’s concerns (i.e. that there would be a replay of the GM and food irradiation controversies and/or competition would be inhibited) and adamant that adopting secrecy as a strategy is wrong-minded.
  • nanotechnology research in the UK is coordinated through a single agency (I believe that’s true in the US as well but it’s definitely not the case in Canada).
  • they were quite critical of the current toxicology research efforts, irrespective of nanotechnology, there aren’t enough toxicology researchers in the UK as well there’s a specific problem with the nanotoxicology, i.e. knowledge gaps (from the report [and they are quoting from a previous report], pp. 34-5 ),

EMERGNANO report states that “this review of ongoing studies has failed to demonstrate that there is any comprehensive attempt to gain the toxicokinetic … data required to reach the aims of hazard identification” and there have been “no systematic studies on the potential of different kinds of nanoparticles to get into the blood, the lymph or the brain”. We find this conclusion worrying.

We are disappointed and concerned that the Research Councils have not adopted a more pro-active approach to encourage and stimulate research bids in areas where existing mechanisms have so far proved ineffective. Dr Mulkeen told us that the MRC would take “more active steps if needed” to develop research into the safety of nanotechnologies (Q 420). We feel that a more pro-active stance is essential given the lack of progress in several key areas to date.

  • some of the difficulty re: nanotoxicology research seems to be attributable to the funding structure (from the report p. 35),

The 2007 review by the CST concluded that the primary reason for the Government’s slow progress on health and safety research was due “to an over-reliance by Government on responsive mode funding, rather than on directed programmes by Government departments to deliver the necessary research”.44 A number of witnesses supported this view. Professor Donaldson, for example, told us: “If we look at the Royal Academy/Royal Society report, there was a really important paragraph that there should be a central core-funded chunk of research and expertise brought together to design a programme that would look systematically at nanoparticle toxicology, and that was ignored. We had response mode funding where people just put forward what they wanted to do, so what you get is piecemeal” (Q 267).
Professor Jones also alluded to the relative strength of research investigating nanoparticle toxicology in the lung compared to a lack of research into the
gut as a result of response-mode funding (Q 494).

  • there is a huge difference between the funds for nanotechnology research (one agency spent 220 million pounds on nanotech research over a 5 year period) and funds for nanotoxicology research (less than 600,000 pounds per annum or less than 3 million pounds in a five year period) which I imagine is much  the same elsewhere.
  • they do mention Canada as a country that has announced a mandatory register of nanomaterials which will include information on safety data (this register has been referred to in other reports but no one ever cites a source and I’ve never been able to confirm that this register is actually being developed).
  • in their recommendations for regulatory enforcement they seemed to be reinforcing the status quo or bringing the UK into line with current European Union practices.
  • in the last bit they discuss communication, i.e. there should be yet another survey of public attitudes although this will be about nanotechnologies and food, they acknowledge the government’s decision to create a new website on the subject, they’d like it if the government would work with the industry folks to become more open about their research, there won’t be blanket labelling of nanotechnology on  food products, and they think public engagement should be undertaken.

The last two bits, regulation and communication, are the least developed sections of the report. I found that overall there was a good balance between sympathy for industry interests and concern for health issues. Some of the strongest language in the report was used in the sections on nanotoxicology and its lack of research.

Forthcoming report by UK House of Lords on nanotechnologies and food; Nike uses nanocoating for new running shoe; quick reference to OECD scorecard; funny technology predictions

Later this week (Jan.8.10), the UK House of Lords Science and Technology Committee will be releasing a report on nanotechnologies and the food industry. From the news item on Azonano,

The Committee has been looking in detail at the use of nanotechnologies in the food industry and has explored how these technologies are likely to develop. It has considered where government might need to develop regulations and effective communications to ensure public confidence is maintained.

The news item (media advisory) tells you who to contact if you want to attend a press conference, interview the principals, and/or get your hands on the embargoed report in advance.

For most people nanotechnology continues to be something associated with sports equipment and clothing and the latest  from Nike will do nothing to change that. From the news item on Azonano,

Sneakerheads will get an additional performance benefit with the latest launch of Nike Lunar Wood TZ. Using technology by P2i, the world leader in liquid repellent nano-coating technology, Nike’s new lightweight and comfortable running shoe will keep wearers dry during the wettest of winters.

P2i’s ion-mask™ technology applies a nanoscopic protective polymer layer to the whole shoe, on which water forms beads and simply rolls off, instead of being absorbed. Because ion-mask™ gives the whole shoe (including the stitching) superior water repellency, it delivers two crucial benefits; one, it stops external water getting in and two, it encourages evaporated perspiration to flow out.

According to P2i, this coating technology (ion-mask) is environmentally friendly. I have mentioned them before but the last time was in relation to military and police use of their coating technology.

The OECD has released its Science, Technology and Industry ‘scoreboard’ which also includes individual country notes for seven countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, and US). I have looked at some of the country notes and some of the material in the scoreboard online. Unfortunately, this is one of those things I find easier to read in print as they have set up a system that requires a lot of clicking. The news item on Azonano is here, the link to information about the scoreboard, country notes, and more is here, and the link to the web version of the scoreboard document is here. Or you may want to wait for Rob Annan’s (Don’t leave Canada behind) promised in his Jan.4.10 posting comments and analysis.

Thanks to the NISE (Nanoscale Informal Science Education) Network January 2010 newsletter, I found a Wall Street Journal (online) article by L. Gordon Crovitz on technology predictions that has these gems,

“The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys,” Sir William Preece, chief engineer at the British Post Office, 1878.

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” H.M. Warner, Warner Bros., 1927.

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers,” Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

“Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night,” Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox, 1946.

“The world potential market for copying machines is 5,000 at most,” IBM executives to the eventual founders of Xerox, 1959.

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home,” Ken Olsen, founder of mainframe-producer Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

“No one will need more than 637 kb of memory for a personal computer—640K ought to be enough for anybody,” Bill Gates, Microsoft, 1981.

“Next Christmas the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput,” Sir Alan Sugar, British entrepreneur, 2005.

It’s a good read (there are more gems) but I can’t laugh too hard as whenever I need to take myself down a peg or two I remember my first response to VCRs. I didn’t see any point to them.

Finally, thanks again to the NISE Net newsletter for the monthly haiku,

Cash @ nanoscale:
Nickel, copper, zinc atoms…
My account balance?
by David Sittenfeld, Program Manager of Forums at the Museum of Science, Boston.

Cool science; where are the women?; biology discovers graphical notations

Popular Science’s Future of .., a programme [developed in response to a question “What’s missing from science programming?” posed by Debbie Myers, {US} Science Channel general manager] , was launched last night (Aug. 11, 2009). From the Fast Company posting by Lynne D. Johnston,

The overall response from the 50-plus room full of mostly New York digerati, was resoundingly, “a show that was both entertaining and smart–not dumbed down.”

Their host, Baratunde Thurston, offers an interesting combination of skills as he is a comedian, political pundit, and author. If you go to the posting, you can find the trailer. (It’s gorgeous and, I suspect, quite expensive due to the effects, and as you’d expect from a teaser, it’s short on science content.)

It does seem as if there’s some sort of campaign to make science ‘cool’ in the US. I say campaign because there was also, a few months ago, the World Science Festival in New York (mentioned in my June 12, 2009 posting). Thanks to Darren Barefoot’s blog I see they have posted some highlights and videos from the festival. Barefoot features one of musician Bobby McFerrin’s presentations here.

Barefoot comments on the oddity of having a musician presenting at a science event. The clip doesn’t clarify why McFerrin would be on the panel but neuroscientists have been expressing a lot of interest in musician’s brains and I noticed that there was at least one neuroscientist on the panel. Still, it would have been nice to have understood the thinking behind the panel composition. If you’re interested in more clips and information about the World Science Festival, go here.

Back to my thoughts on the ‘cool’ science campaign, there have been other initiatives including the ‘Dancing with scientists’ video contest put on by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the nanotechnology video contests put on by the American Chemical Society. All of these initiatives have taken place this year. By contrast, nothing of a similar nature appears to be taking place in Canada. (If you know of a ‘cool science’ project in Canada, please do contact me as I’d be happy to feature it here.)

On the subject of putting together panels, there’s an interesting blog posting by Allyson Kapin (Fast Company) on the dearth of women on technology and/or social media panels. She points out that the problem has many aspects and requires more than one tactic for viable solutions.

She starts by talking about the lack of diversity and she very quickly shifts her primary focus to women. (I’ve seen this before in other writing and I think it happens because the diversity topic is huge so writers want to acknowledge the breadth but have time and expertise to discuss only a small piece of it.) On another tack altogether, I’ve been in the position of assembling a panel and trying to get a diverse group of people can be incredibly difficult. That said, I think more work needs to be done to make sure that panels are as diverse as possible.

Following on my interest in multimodal discourse and new ways of communicating science, a new set of standards for graphically representing biology has been announced. From Physorg.com,

Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and their colleagues in 30 labs worldwide have released a new set of standards for graphically representing biological information – the biology equivalent of the circuit diagram in electronics. This visual language should make it easier to exchange complex information, so that models are accurate, efficient and readily understandable. The new standard, called the Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN), is published today (August 11, 2009) in Nature Biotechnology.

There’s more here and the article in Nature Biotechnology is here (keep scrolling).