Monday, February 21, 2005

It's good to be a blogger with tenure

I've told communications professor David Berube before that he's my hero in that he's figured out how liberal-arts guys can make a living off the scientific community. His book, "NanoHype," is about to be released and his University of South Carolina NanoCenter is likely to be chosen as the federal government's official nano-ethics center. Berube recently launched his own NanoHype blog, one of many new nanotech-themed blogs. I asked Berube what he's going to say and how he's going to say it:


    So, as a way of introducing your blog to my audience, tell me a little bit about the reason you're launching it, what goals you hope to accomplish. Also, let me ask you the same question I asked at the Foresight conference last year. Assuming your university becomes the official nano-ethics center (can't remember the official name it's being given these days), how can you avoid becoming, as I've described before, a Center for Nano Image Control?

    Also, it's no secret that the U.S. government's nanotech program is not always thrilled with what I write, but the worst they can do to me is say bad things about me (Although, I have noticed that the Internal Revenue Service has been on my site lately. Hey, go find a blogger who makes money! I've got nothin'!). But you're going to be working under government grants. What will happen when you write something controversial?


    Hey, Howard. Hope you are well.

    The blog is a way for me to speak about materials that cross my desk. Initially, I am going to review publications about nanotechnology. In the process I will ask some questions and raise some issues. While I am funded by some federal grants, I am a full tenured professor and my salary is not dependent on my capacity to bring in grant money. While undoubtedly it may be partially responsible for some pay for performance increases and some release time from teaching duties, that is it.

    Knowing me as well as I do, I can predict that I will be speaking out at certain times. For example, I will be reviewing conferences I attend and I am sure I will say some things that are not flattering about some of the presenters. As an academic, I am comfortable with people rejecting what I have to say and disagreeing with me. A healthy debate on applied nanoscience and nanotechnology is what I am purporting to create here at South Carolina. The blog will be associated with our NIRT site and maybe with the Center, if we get it.

    I understand the power of the blogosphere and how important it was in the last election. I think that when we discuss reaching out to stakeholder and engaging nanotechnology and the directions of the NNI upstream, the blogosphere might be one of the venues to do it.


NanoBot Backgrounder
NanoSight, NanoScheme and NanoHype
and ... action!
Wanted: NanoEthicist at Penn

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