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RTD info logoMagazine on European Research Special issue - November 2005   

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EDITORIAL Printable version

The communication of science: born of fashion

I communicate, you communicate, we communicate…While communication of every kind is on everyone’s lips, we are still far from the realms of the genuinely ‘intelligent’ communication promised by the advent of the ‘knowledge society’. Technologies – and first and foremost the Internet and mobile telephone – are in part responsible for this paradox. Success in terms of an ever present ‘means’ of accessing and exchanging information creates the feeling that we are communicating better. While this is no doubt true insofar as society is spontaneously generating new and creative initiatives, when it comes to the various levels in established institutions and organisations much remains to be done.

Rather late in the day, the world of science is now too in the grip of this communication fever. If nothing else, there is certainly a demand for it! The latest Eurobarometer on science and technology establishes that much: the Europeans want information on science and technology, they want to be involved and they want to participate in decisions. The information supply is growing, albeit timidly and not without ulterior motives coming into play. Many scientists wrongly view communication as the magic wand that will remove at a stroke all the doubts people may have about the new technologies. Also – but in this case no doubt with good reason – it is seen as a means of attracting extra funding for research. Of course the danger here is of funds going to the most effective communicators rather than to scientific excellence.

For all that, Europe has seen its communication successes and good practices. On the eve of the 2005 CER Conference, this special issue reflects this, modestly but necessarily and… CERtainly only in part.