Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Nanoscience Subculture

I wonder if nanoscience will develop a very distinct culture through the rapid communication of graduate students that use blogs and message boards skillfully. Nanoscience and blogs are coming of age at the same time. Computer science and electrical engineering have a very well defined geek culture. Will nanoscience be absorbed into that or will it become it's own entity? I predict that most nanoscience students will be obsessed with ethnic food because of the extremely diverse groups of people that nanoscience labs bring together.

I assume that the average slashdot reader is a caffeine guzzling, late night working, star trek watching, science fiction reading, anime watching, video game playing, gadget loving, tinkerer. Stores like Thinkgeek market nerdy toys to them accordingly. Geeks got that way by turning each other on to these things through message board posts, emails, and blog entries. They were some of the first adopters of rapid online forms of communication so their culture rapidly evolved into what we see today and continues to change as rapidly.

The modal organic chemistry graduate student is an overworked, name-dropping, chain-smoking, alcoholic with no hobbies. I suspect that this style developed over the past hundred years rather than the last ten. I imagine that organic chemist culture will become more homogenous with the advent of websites like The Chem Blog that humorously and accurately portray the lifestyle of a graduate student in organic synthesis. How would we describe the average nanoscientist? Perhaps we will be able to make some predictions about this when the first large nanoscience online communities develop. Computer science and Electrical Engineering types seem to have about a decade long head start on us, but we are catching up quickly.

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