I promise, this is the last post where I don’t talk about funny science. Almost two months ago, my column was a “rant” against the European space agency, ESA. Many of you reacted to it. Some of my colleagues also shared their difficulties with a “media” service… which disdained the media. I take advantage of this new column to thank you all, colleagues and readers.
The fed up was heard on the side of the space agency, I am assured. To be a journalist is not to be naïve; not all problems will be solved. ESA suffers from a glaring lack of resources, and the “media” represent a heterogeneous mass of thousands of people, each with their own demands, specificities, constraints and even their own language, since the agency addresses the media Europeans as a whole.
→ CHRONICLE. Cologne, we have a problem
What to remember then? Just that everyone is doing their best. For my part, I have heard and understood the criticisms of my somewhat acerbic approach. For their part, ESA officials assured that all requests from the press would have an answer, even negative, instead of falling into an interstellar hole. That the media would be informed of the events beforehand, not at the last moment nor after the event – yes, that has been seen. And that maybe, yes, all things considered, it is possible to do something other than just a tweet to communicate information to the press.
It is also fascinating to note that the announcement of the takeover of a social network, namely Twitter, was able to cause such a stir in companies, public organizations and the media. Admittedly, the amount is simply mind-boggling. 44 billion dollars is ten billion more than France’s spending on the environment, six times more than the budget of the European space agency, and, although the price of flour is soaring with inflation, no doubt that represents a good bundle of chopsticks.
Putting such a sum in a social network seems disproportionate to me. In fact, the place taken by social networks as a whole seems disproportionate to me. In the scale of primary human needs, communicating and exchanging is unquestionably important. But do we really exchange on these platforms? Are we not rather declaiming into the void, sometimes with the response of a distant and distorted echo of our own words?
Not everything is to be thrown on social networks, quite the contrary. The ESA, like many scientific organizations and research centres, makes excellent use of these platforms to publish beautiful photos of space, invite Internet users to take part in a “blobesque” experience or even raise awareness among young people about technical careers. But these uses cannot replace the meeting, the real one. The one in a class around something that makes smoke under the amazed eyes of the children. That in the informal setting of a bar, as organized by the Pint of Science festival, where researchers explain their work over a drink. And the one with journalists eager to transcribe the thrill of a take-off.