One of the most serious shortcomings in science and technology communication is the pro-innovation bias. The pro-innovation bias is the notion that an innovation should be diffused and adopted by all members of a social system. And the innovation should be diffused rapidly and should be neither re-invented nor rejected (Rogers, 2003). The pro-innovation bias was described by Rogers and Shoemaker already in 1971 (Rogers & Shoemaker, 1971), but as Rogers state in 2003 “not enough has been done to remedy the problem” (Rogers, 2003, p. 106). So still, in spite of the fact that innovation is one of the most mentioned concepts in social science only a small fraction of the research study undesirable consequences (Sveiby, Gripenberg, Segercrantz, Eriksson, & Aminoff, 2009). Sveiby et al found that only 1 per 1000 of innovation articles presented undesirable consequences. They suggest two main reasons for this bias. The first “is that innovation research seems to be built on a fundamental value that ‘innovation is good’” (p. 14). The second reason “for lack of research on undesirable consequences in innovation research seems to be a separation of discourses on desirable and undesirable consequences” (p. 14).

The pro-innovation bias is also prominent in science and technology communication. In her classical work “Selling Science” Nelkin rises several crucial questions linked to the pro-innovation bias, however not discussing it per se (Nelkin, 1995). Important aspects that she discusses is the promotional bias in science and technology communication, especially different public relation techniques and the problem that the media are relying on corporate sources about new technology, the celebration of progress, technological enthusiasm and optimism, in short the hype fascination, accompanied by the fact that the public in general have attitudes that are overwhelmingly favorable to science and technology, including the general believe in all kinds of technological fix. The questions Nelkin discusses are still valid and important and I will therefore in this paper look closer into two themes, 1) strategies for promoting innovations in technology communication, and 2) technology communication as source driven as well as enrolling support from other actors, using a case study of how Internet has been communicated in the Norwegian press during the 1995-2006 period.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Exploring the pro-innovation bias in technology communication
Internet in the mass media

Per Hetland   InterMedia, University of Oslo

One of the most serious shortcomings in science and technology communication is the pro-innovation bias. The pro-innovation bias is the notion that an innovation should be diffused and adopted by all members of a social system. And the innovation should be diffused rapidly and should be neither re-invented nor rejected (Rogers, 2003). The pro-innovation bias was described by Rogers and Shoemaker already in 1971 (Rogers & Shoemaker, 1971), but as Rogers state in 2003 “not enough has been done to remedy the problem” (Rogers, 2003, p. 106). So still, in spite of the fact that innovation is one of the most mentioned concepts in social science only a small fraction of the research study undesirable consequences (Sveiby, Gripenberg, Segercrantz, Eriksson, & Aminoff, 2009). Sveiby et al found that only 1 per 1000 of innovation articles presented undesirable consequences. They suggest two main reasons for this bias. The first “is that innovation research seems to be built on a fundamental value that ‘innovation is good’” (p. 14). The second reason “for lack of research on undesirable consequences in innovation research seems to be a separation of discourses on desirable and undesirable consequences” (p. 14).

The pro-innovation bias is also prominent in science and technology communication. In her classical work “Selling Science” Nelkin rises several crucial questions linked to the pro-innovation bias, however not discussing it per se (Nelkin, 1995). Important aspects that she discusses is the promotional bias in science and technology communication, especially different public relation techniques and the problem that the media are relying on corporate sources about new technology, the celebration of progress, technological enthusiasm and optimism, in short the hype fascination, accompanied by the fact that the public in general have attitudes that are overwhelmingly favorable to science and technology, including the general believe in all kinds of technological fix. The questions Nelkin discusses are still valid and important and I will therefore in this paper look closer into two themes, 1) strategies for promoting innovations in technology communication, and 2) technology communication as source driven as well as enrolling support from other actors, using a case study of how Internet has been communicated in the Norwegian press during the 1995-2006 period.

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