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Argh. Again.

I’m having trouble convincing myself that staying involved in big science projects is a tenable arrangement for me. Big science drives a lot of SI’s money, and I’m starting to feel a bit like a puppet. Sure, I think big science is interesting and valuable. Who doesn’t want an anthrax vaccine or concrete that bends? I just don’t want to spend all my intellectual time and energy watching people make those vaccines or bend that concrete. I’m tempted, again, to leave big science collaboration studies to someone who cares more about technology. After spending a couple days at an NSF symposium ostensibly about cyber-enabled discovery and innovation, I am even more convinced that NSF and its CISE program are not the place for me to make my splash. Sure, NSF money is nice in that it’s often big and makes work possible. But do I want to do that work? I don’t think so. This symposium has served very effectively to convince me, at least for now, that my summer enthusiasm about using these big science collaborations as cases for a general study of collaboration was foolish. Right now, there are equations being projected. Equations. I came to Troy, NY to wave the sociotechnical banner and learn about physics, apparently. I think I’d rather dump the banner and put my “social” t-shirt back on.

So now I’m done presenting, and I feel a little better. Perhaps some of my earlier crankiness was due to my stress over having not finished my presentation to include said crankiness. In the end, I got to wave the sociotechnical banner and ask for funding to support social science enabled by computation. Not bad for a day’s work.

Before I hit “Publish,” let me mention one more battle raging at this symposium. Gender. I was the second woman to present in as many days. We’ve seen a new presentation about every 20 minutes. This is not only shocking and accurate, it’s unacceptable.

One Comment

  • Cory |

    You know…I’ve been sitting next to you during this entire symposium, finding myself feeling much the same way. At some point, I had the notion that maybe we could be the Dr. Doolittles of the Big Science world, and could get all of the animals in the scientific zoo talking to one another, and the world would innovate in research harmony.

    I was wrong. That was naïve.

    If anything, I’m walking away from this experience being very weary, and wondering if I would have the fortitude to deal with these disciplines all the time. Frustration takes a lot of energy, and I do find it amazingly frustrating that, over and over, the places in the world of science that are doing the most interesting work are missing (IMO) the important parts that are ultimately going to help them be successful. ARGH, indeed.

So, what do you think ?

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