The ICT component of Science Communication was brought into SAASTA with the aim of furthering the advancement of Science, Engineering and Technology (SET), and is aimed at investigating new, interactive ways
of spreading awareness on SET that is not only tailor-made for a specific set of disciplines or sets of information, but to also communicate across cultures – breaching the demographic gaps, while considering sensitivities of all cultures. SAASTA runs programmes across many disciplines, including Public Understanding of Biotechnology (PUB), Public Nanotechnology Engagement Programme (PNEP) and HySA Public Awareness Platform (HySA PAP) and more, and the use of ICTs can further advance these programmes and aid them in reaching their objectives.

South Africa is a country with extremely diverse groups of people, cultures, languages and behaviours. Reaching and identified target audience with a very specific message has become an art in the present day, as mass-media messages falling on deaf ears are now a thing of the past. With certain types of ICTs, tailored to its intended audience, with the correct communication message attached, can be far more effective and cost-effective than mass paid media or “media buying”. This paper will investigate social media as a form of communicating science, as well as which new media are the most effective, what works and what does not and so on. It will also look at exhibitory, and how the game has been revolutionised. Static ‘poster’ exhibits only work in certain areas, but an interactive touch kiosk exhibit can work wonders for growing a young child’s enthusiasm in a particular field. ICTs allow the message sender to target an audience incredibly accurately and if the message conveyed is correct, ICT communication channels can and will be far more affordable and effective, as there is no longer the effect of casting a wide net hoping to catch only the intended few.

Naturally, advancing science does not end at South African border posts; South African science advancement also plays the global game. With so many cultural differences between the various nationalities, bridging cultural gaps are challenging for any communicator, let alone science communicators. This paper will showcase a truly remarkable project undertaken earlier in 2010 where SAASTA had to bridge the language and cultural gaps between South African science communicators and the Chinese public. An exhibit showcasing South Africa’s National Science Institutions was created and sent to Shanghai for the World Expo. Elements to be discussed will include, the background of the project, the necessity for it, the various and multiple challenges faced in its development – which included technical as well as translation and cultural challenges – and its performance in Shanghai. Another aspect to be discussed will be how to retrieve viewership data from this exhibit, and future ways to adapt it and use it within South African borders and in other countries across the world.

The various elements of this paper and presentation will cover: the correct use of websites in communicating science; technologies available and the application of these technologies; social media as a form of communicating science; growing social interest in science communication; international and national best practices; how it is done in other parts of the world; a look at the future; a comparison with the past; “hit” statistics with social media; exhibitory and how far it has come; and, what can be learned from using the incorrect ICTs for certain messages.

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 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

The use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) as a tool to advance science across cultures in multiple societies

Nick de la Hunt   The South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA)

Lorenzo Raynard   The South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA)

The ICT component of Science Communication was brought into SAASTA with the aim of furthering the advancement of Science, Engineering and Technology (SET), and is aimed at investigating new, interactive ways
of spreading awareness on SET that is not only tailor-made for a specific set of disciplines or sets of information, but to also communicate across cultures – breaching the demographic gaps, while considering sensitivities of all cultures. SAASTA runs programmes across many disciplines, including Public Understanding of Biotechnology (PUB), Public Nanotechnology Engagement Programme (PNEP) and HySA Public Awareness Platform (HySA PAP) and more, and the use of ICTs can further advance these programmes and aid them in reaching their objectives.

South Africa is a country with extremely diverse groups of people, cultures, languages and behaviours. Reaching and identified target audience with a very specific message has become an art in the present day, as mass-media messages falling on deaf ears are now a thing of the past. With certain types of ICTs, tailored to its intended audience, with the correct communication message attached, can be far more effective and cost-effective than mass paid media or “media buying”. This paper will investigate social media as a form of communicating science, as well as which new media are the most effective, what works and what does not and so on. It will also look at exhibitory, and how the game has been revolutionised. Static ‘poster’ exhibits only work in certain areas, but an interactive touch kiosk exhibit can work wonders for growing a young child’s enthusiasm in a particular field. ICTs allow the message sender to target an audience incredibly accurately and if the message conveyed is correct, ICT communication channels can and will be far more affordable and effective, as there is no longer the effect of casting a wide net hoping to catch only the intended few.

Naturally, advancing science does not end at South African border posts; South African science advancement also plays the global game. With so many cultural differences between the various nationalities, bridging cultural gaps are challenging for any communicator, let alone science communicators. This paper will showcase a truly remarkable project undertaken earlier in 2010 where SAASTA had to bridge the language and cultural gaps between South African science communicators and the Chinese public. An exhibit showcasing South Africa’s National Science Institutions was created and sent to Shanghai for the World Expo. Elements to be discussed will include, the background of the project, the necessity for it, the various and multiple challenges faced in its development – which included technical as well as translation and cultural challenges – and its performance in Shanghai. Another aspect to be discussed will be how to retrieve viewership data from this exhibit, and future ways to adapt it and use it within South African borders and in other countries across the world.

The various elements of this paper and presentation will cover: the correct use of websites in communicating science; technologies available and the application of these technologies; social media as a form of communicating science; growing social interest in science communication; international and national best practices; how it is done in other parts of the world; a look at the future; a comparison with the past; “hit” statistics with social media; exhibitory and how far it has come; and, what can be learned from using the incorrect ICTs for certain messages.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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