For some reason the section relating to scientific communication at conferences has had a distinctly Chinese flavour….

Poster sessions are the ultimate manifestations of science as an open institution – rarely refereed and only lightly controlled, they have become the researchers’ equivalent of Beijing’s Democracy wall. But because they aren’t refereed, posters don’t really count.”
(Rose, 1992, p. 300)

I would dispute the blanket statement regarding the insignificance of posters vs talks at conferences – it really depends on the field! All conferences I have attended as a scientist (ecology) had the same review for talks as the posters. Oh and there is this thing called “best poster prize” which is effectively a more in depth peer-review than talks ever get;) Interesting though that if we extend the metaphor, science or traditional science publishing is analogous to a communist autocratic one party regime…hmmm.

Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist at the university of California Berkeley (Berkeley, ca, uSa), and one of the early proponents of virtual realities, actually warns against the hazards of Web 2.0 collectivism or what he calls ‘digital Maoism’ (Lanier, 2006). Without proper authorship information and review processes, it could become impossible to separate useful, valid data from well-presented opinion or falsehoods.
(Huang et al., 2008)

And here the digital Maoism metaphor implies that the non-standard web 2.0 communication can be of similar character – silencing the individual’s voices (or as per Lanier “removing scent of the individual”). Great summary of his book on Wikipedia, oh irony;)

  • Rose, S. (1992).  The making of memory. London, Bantam Press. Cited in Thomas, J., Day, G., 2011. Block 2: Scientists communicating. In: SH804 Communicating Science in the Information Age. Open University, Milton Keynes.
  • Huang, S.T., Kamel Boulos, M.N., Dellavalle, R.P., 2008. Scientific discourse 2.0. Will your next poster session be in Second Life? EMBO Rep. 9, 496–9.

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