Monday, June 20, 2005

To embed self-criticism

What does the term "science journalist in-residence" mean? I believe it does not mean just a spokesperson or mouthpiece, and besides not a critic with a scathing attitude, either.

In the field of management the term "journalist in-residence" has long been used rather as a rhetoric to explain a particular task of an "in-house public relations specialist". Such an expert is now regarded much more as business professional and organizational person than he/she was once in the pioneer era of the PR field.

What I want to refer to here, however, is not such a rhetorical "journalist in-residence" but a "science journalist in-residence", staying at and observing on a particular R&D related institute, project or team, as a "quasi-organizational person". It might be rather similar to "artist in-residence", as which NASA first appointed Laurie Anderson, a multimedea artist, a few years ago.

I think a "science journalist in-residence" can help a researchers' society demonstrate "embedded self-criticism". If there is any serious problem, he/she will have it out with the researchers. Even if the problem is not be solved thoroughly, creating opportunities to communicate with researchers can be crucial to embedding self-criticism to R&D institutions. He/she can create particular information or stories as a result of a continuous process to interact with researchers. And a special ability should be needed to embed such a self-criticism in a deeper layer of the whole science communication process.

I believe the whole process of science communication, including such an internal process mentioned above, should focuse on much more than just outputs or outcomes demonstrated to the public.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

As a science public relations specialist: Synchronize S&T values with social values

I am not a S&T person. Detailed specifications of S&T are always black boxes for me. However it is not always a barrier to be a science communicator. I usually try to concentrate on observing a change of research teams' aspects and researchers' attitudes. The most important thing is to grasp the change process.

It might be better to refer to my work as research communication rather than as science communication. My task must be to measure dynamics of research activities rather than to deepen details of S&T. This is just a rhetoric, but I feel S&T truths can be seen just only through such diffrential calculi of dynamic process.

My root as science communication specialist: 1982-92

I have been working as editor and journalist especially in the S&T(Science and Technology) field.

In the first place I started to produce a lot of brochures mainly for Japanese manufacturers in the early 1980's. At that time a strong pressure, to transform from the catch-up phase to the spontaneous innovation phase of the Japanese R&D system, had emerged after the Japan's miracle of the 70's. It is my impression that their budgets for recruitment of science students were rapidly increasing, by ten between 1982-1985. This boom continued until the mid-90's when the Japanese bubble economy collapsed.

On the other hand, there was a boom of "Artificial Intelligence" in the 80's. The boom had two dimensions of trans-boundary movements, one was between academia and industry and the other was among many disciplines of academia. A national consortium of "the Fifth Generation Computer Project" initiated by MITI was widely noticed all over the world and aroused criticism. This movement seemed tremendously interesting so that we decided to start a new magazine "AI Journal", a critic magazine rather than an academic journal, to capture the emerging situation of the new knowledge-sphere. Twelve numbers were issued bimonthly between 1985-87.
See some covers and articles

After then, I edited "Encyclopedia of Artificial Intelligence". It was edited from very unique aspect, gathering a large number of authors from various academic fields from information science to philosophy. It was issued in 1992, and re-issued in 2003 with very little revision. Therefore I can say the first edition is not outdated still now.

Finally a revival movement seems to emerge after a decade blank now. Information technology is now transforming from the statistic computing approach of the 90's to the semantic computing approach of the 2000's. I have just been involved in this new field as a science public relations specialist (as a journalist in-residence) at the Information Technology Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial S&T.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

New Blog

I have just started a new blog, a journal rather than just a diary.