4. Technoscientific Issues in the Public Sphere


Interactions on the internet are now widely recognised as an inexhaustible source of information that is of great interest for research in the humanities and social sciences. The presence of science and technology in the public sphere, particularly in the media, therefore, constitutes an interesting research area, focused on observing and understanding the role and relevance of technoscience in the context of contemporary society. This presence—which is often controversial—is analysed through text-mining and automatic content analysis techniques that monitor the daily press, blogs, and social media. Thanks to the Technoscientific Issues in the Public Sphere (TIPS) project, great attention is paid to the growing availability of large quantities of digital data and to the analytical possibilities offered by new tools for its collection and processing. The research activity mainly follows three directions:

New frontiers of techno-scientific research considers the social implications of the evolution of emerging sectors of scientific research, such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology, augmented reality, biotechnology, and robotics, analysing them by investigating public opinion trends (primarily using survey data) and monitoring their media coverage.

Technoscience in the media research revolves around the TIPS project, aiming to develop, test, and implement automatic procedures for the acquisition, classification, and analysis of digital content on the web. This content, drawn mainly from newspapers and social networks, is used to monitor the quantitative presence and qualitative evolution of issues relating to science and technology. Consequently, this research area acquired an intrinsically multidisciplinary character from its inception, with researchers contributing to the realisation of the TIPS project in the fields of sociology, information and communication technology, statistics, linguistics, and social psychology.

Technoscientific controversies research maps and studies the vitally important public controversies surrounding scientific and technological phenomena; this constitutes a specific area of interest for Pa.S.T.I.S., ranging from the topic of biotechnology to that of climate change, from the most recent developments in the biomedical field to the more general one of technoscientific innovation and its governance.

 

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