Places exist in our imaginations, our memories, our practices, rituals, stories, materialities. Organizations may also be fruitfully thought of as places – or perhaps rather their more virtual “cousins”, spaces – for social and socio-material interaction. EASST too is, in that sense, a meeting-place for doing STS, especially in and/or about Europe. And, as with all places, EASST is constantly in-the-making. This issue focuses, more explicitly than some, on recent developments in the making of EASST.
First, let me mention some changes in EASST’s manifestation as a publication-space. As most of you are hopefully already aware, EASST now offers its members early access to the peer-reviewed journal Science & Technology Studies. Just to remind you, members can access the journal at its web site, www.sciencetechnologystudies.org, with a user name and password that has been sent to you. A new user name and password will be issued to all members after the annual membership renewal deadline.
The new offer of a fully peer-reviewed journal will also bring some changes to our membership newsletter, EASST Review. To avoid conflicts within EASST’s publication space, and to raise the circulation and status of book reviews, book reviews submitted to EASST Review will hereafter be forwarded to Science & Technology Studies. Note that the web site offers a click-to-request service for books received for review (www.sciencetechnologystudies.org/books), but that other book reviews are also welcome. Reviews submitted to me will, as already mentioned, be forwarded. Or you can submit directly to the journal. See instructions at www.sciencetechnologystudies.org/reviewers. Science & Technology Studies will gradually be stepping up publication frequency from two to three and then four issues per year. As the journal has also moved from print to internet publication, available book review space and turnaround time should be as it previously has been in EASST Review.
EASST Review will hereafter be a space primarily for other forms of place-making. News from the field – be it good news or bad, opportunities opening up or under threat of closure, new PhDs introducing themselves or memoria over colleagues lost – as well as discussions of events and of policy and strategy issues, these are the aspects of EASST as a place-in-the-making that EASST Review will focus on.
For instance, in this issue you will find reviews of the new EASST awards, the EASST general meeting at the recent EASST/4S conference in Copenhagen and of the pre-conference student workshop – all key sites of EASST place-making.
Now to another a new feature of the Review in its still somewhat new space on the EASST web site: Some may recall that we tried a few years back to open up a discussion forum where readers could comment on pieces published in the EASST Review. Unfortunately, that site got invaded by bots before it had reached critical forum mass. Eventually we had to give up on maintaining it. Now that EASST has a professional web site service, we are again able to offer the possibility to discuss pieces in the Review which are featured on our website. If you scroll to the bottom of any such piece in this issue that you might wish to comment, you will see a notice that you must “log on” to do so. This is a WordPress log in for the EASST website so you need to set one up initially. Look for the option to “register” and click there. You can enter your own choice of username and email. In a matter of seconds, you should receive an email with your temporary password (you can set a new password of your choosing, and the name that you want your comments to appear under, by editing your user profile, which you can reach via a link from your name in the top right hand corner, once you have logged on). We are hoping the Review will now become even more than a quarterly newsletter and actually be a place for ongoing conversations about EASST (and, more broadly, STS in general) events, developments, strategies, etc.
The EASST Members’ Directory is yet another place-making function now available, for instance for networking purposes. Your profile there contains information you wish to share with other members. We encourage you to enter keywords under interests as this allows other members to search for people working on similar topics. You can also add a personal or institutional web address where other members can find out more about you (or you can add publications etc. directly into your Directory profile). You can contact other members using a secure email link (no emails are visible) and you can search for members on the basis of name, location and interests. The Directory also has your own personal and contact details which are not visible to other members but which you are encouraged to update yourself as necessary. If you are a relatively new member of EASST you can log in using your name and date of birth as entered on your application form. If you are a more longstanding member you should have been sent log in details over a year ago but just email admin(AT)easst.net if you have lost them.
Turning back to the contents and theme of the current issue: Another new feature of EASST as a place is the emergence of a growing number of local, national and regional STS networks. While the Dutch network can already celebrate 25 years of activities, many other networks are new as of the past few years. This is a sign of the growth of STS in general and EASST as part of the STS community. It is also in some cases a response to problems arising that need to be dealt with collectively – e.g. changes to funding systems, or threats to close STS centres. EASST will be seeking ways to support and collaborate with local/national/regional networks. In the interests of developing that support and collaboration, we encourage networks to report on their activities through EASST Review – as the Dutch network has done in this issue – and we urge the membership in general to join in with comments and suggestions.
Next I would like to point out one of the notices in our service pages – calls for papers, job openings, and so on. In these pages we sort and re-present still current items that have appeared in the Eurograd site, which we now host as part of our own web site. Occasionally we also add items that have reached us via other channels. The item I wish to comment on here is the call for so-called “open panels” for the 2013 4S conference in San Diego. “Open panels” were an EASST innovation, a means of easing the work load for conference organizers by inviting participants to convene their own themed sessions, while still maintaining the option for participants to submit individual paper proposals. An open panel is proposed by one or more participants. He/she/they have brought together some number of paper proposals, but are also prepared to consider further proposals on the same theme. This structure is now being taken on by 4S as well – yet another example of how STS places are growing and dealing with that growth. How will this feature develop in future? Will we see the emergence of thematic networks, lasting over several annual and biennial meetings? It is worth noting that such a network was the basis for the anthology that won this year’s Amsterdamska award. Perhaps more such networks will emerge in future. EASST is not currently making organizational efforts in this direction, but it seems possible that developments will take that direction organically, on their own.
Finally, I would like to mention one Review feature that has been little used of late. Some years back, we used to receive self-presentations occasionally in the form of dissertation reviews from new PhDs. This can be a useful exercise for new PhDs. It raises your visibility at a time when you are likely to be looking for post doc opportunities. It is also a way to prepare for your dissertation defence, especially if that involves you presenting the dissertation in public. Though we haven’t had any such presentations of new dissertations in the past few years, that should not be taken as a sign of editorial loss of interest. Please do feel free to do a “review” of your own dissertation and submit it for publication in the Review.
Ann R. Sætnan