Earth’s climate is really changing as a result of human activity? GMOs are an effective response to hunger problems worldwide? Are there potential risks in the development of nanotechnology? Which are the safer facilities for waste treatment? As citizens, we are daily subjected to such dilemmas through the media, committed to face a growing amount of complex information with diverging opinions among the same experts. Who would you trust then? How to form your own opinion?
The project MACOSPOL – Mapping Controversies On Science for POLitics, which sees the participation of seven European universities and is coordinated by the sociologist and philosopher Bruno Latour, has set itself the goal to provide possible answers to these questions, through the realization of a web platform allowing citizens to explore and retrieve information on science and technology issues in interactive and innovative ways. The platform collects and makes available to users selected web tools that allow to summarize and to “map” the various aspects that characterize a given scienctific controversy. The tools collected allow to determine the “temperature” of a dispute, to detect the partisanship of information sources, to generate geo-referenced exploration dashboards, the investigation of science and technology rumors circulating on blogs and social networks like Twitter.
Observa, the Italian partner of the Macospol consortium, organized a workshop for the premiere presentation of the Macospol web platform, which was held on the 22nd and 23rd October in Venice, at the Headquarters of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti. During the event, a small group of invited European journalists and decision-makers was asked to test and evaluate the Macospol web tools, in order to understand how they could be relevant and useful for their daily work.
Following the workshop, the platform MACOSPOL will be open for public participation. Based on a wiki collaboration system, it will also allow the public and specific groups of people to explore and identify means of orientation for the complex world of scientific and technological controversies.