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Open Journalism: Principles and Practices/Concepts, Theories, and Facts

< Open Journalism: Principles and Practices

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Structure of Scientific Explanations

Our interpretations here are shaped by the works of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruno_Latour/ Bruno Latour].

We will distinguish a good theory as a theory that allows us to make observations, assessments, and deliver new promises. New important theories become dominant in the moment that these new promises are transformed from promises of results in laboratory experiments to promises of results in technology, and then promises of results in the business market. Theories mature following that path. They are born in small offices of graduate students and professors, they move to labs, and then to engineering departments and technology companies research and development departments, and finally venture capitalists invest in them and they become an important part of the market, making obsolete previous theories, technologies, and politicians.

We claim that theories are linguistic distinctions that are carefully crafted to take care of particular human concerns. For example, the guys dealing with silicon were dealing with specific concerns were that computers too big...; Have a question and invent distincitons to invent practices to take care of that concern.

Semi-Conductor and Quantum Computing Example

  • When did first research happen on semi-conductors/silicon/service physics?
  • Semiconductors had been used in the electronics field for some time before the invention of the transistor. Around the turn of the 20th century they were quite common as detectors in radios, used in a device called a "cat's whisker". (in Wikipedia)
  • Research in 1940s in Bell Labs and transistor in 1947
  • Investment in market and displacement of vacuum tube devices


  • 1970 - Stephen Wiesner invents conjugate coding.
  • Wikipedia: "Perhaps not as surprisingly, quantum computers could also be useful for running simulations of quantum mechanics. This idea goes back to Richard Feynman (1982) who observed that there is no known algorithm for simulating quantum systems on a classical computer and suggested studying the use of quantum computers for this purpose. The speedup achieved by quantum computers could be just as large as for factoring."
  • In ___, there was investment by venture capitalists.
  • Wikipedia: "In 2005, researchers at the University of Michigan built a semiconductor chip which functioned as an ion trap. Such devices, produced by standard lithography techniques, may point the way to scalable quantum computing tools.[10] An improved version was made in 2006. D-Wave Systems Inc. claims to be the world’s first — and only — provider of quantum computing systems designed to run commercial applications. On 13 February, 2007 they ran an initial demonstration of their Orion quantum computing system, which is built around a 16-qubit superconducting adiabatic quantum computer processor."


Internet Example

  • Concern in 1950s about danger and impact of first strike.
  • ARPA


Journalism's Role with Discourses

We claim that this pattern is what science and discourses do and are. This opens up the sensitivity to be careful when we talk about something that is already happening. What we are talking about has already been invented in disciplines that are alot richer and deeper than we might think. At the same time, there are a lot of "theories" that lack scientific rigor, but we use the word, "theory" when talking about them because we are linguistically familiar with it.

The role of a journalist is to pick up on the different linguistic claims people make, see where the language is or isn't powerful and rigorous, and bring new capacities to observe, assess, commit, and act. We suggest that if journalists are not sensitive to this practice, the Common will "theorize" with nothing serious under, only pure fashion and habit.

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