Prometheus: Vol 26, No 4 (2008)

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The Birth of the Biotechnology Era: Penicillin in Australia, 1943–80
John A. Mathews
Pages: 317-333

ABSTRACT

As Australia and other countries seek to establish biotechnology industries, it is timely to review successes and failures in this field. One of the most notable stories is the development of penicillin, as a wartime project, to which Australians made major contributions. Australians during and immediately after the war contributed much to the scientific identification and purification of penicillin, and to the industrial scaling up in its production at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in Melbourne. This was a classic instance of war accelerating innovations in public administration. Yet the nascent antibiotic industry was never allowed to gain international competitiveness, and was allowed to run down and eventually disappeared by the end of the 1970s. This article is concerned to tease out the puzzle posed by this contrast in aspirations, between the highest levels of scientific and technical achievement in bringing penicillin into widespread use (Australia being the first country in the world to provide penicillin to the civilian population in 1944) and shockingly poor performance in sustaining and developing a national antibiotics industry. As the stirrings of a biotechnology industry may be observed in the first decade of the twenty‐first century, it would be unfortunate to ignore the lessons of this earlier experience at the birth of the biotechnology era.

The Ignorance Economy
Joanne Roberts & John Armitage
Pages: 335-354

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this article is to investigate the concept of ignorance. The article employs ignorance and related writings on the lack of knowledge and new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), education, and on the state of being ignorant with the aim of expounding an ignorant approach to the critique of the knowledge economy. This perspective necessitates a discussion of those subjects and objects apparently lacking in knowledge in addition to deliberations on the nature of new ICTs. Various studies by educators, economists, and management theorists are introduced and examined as instances of an ignorant standpoint on the knowledge economy. The authors argue and find that whilst an ignorant viewpoint regarding the knowledge economy might initially appear as one that is itself founded on a state of ignorance, a deeper investigation reveals its usefulness when considering the knowledge economy. Thus, the value of the article is that it introduces the concept of the ignorance economy and considers it from an original standpoint in the light of ongoing debates over the knowledge economy.

Data Wealth, Data Poverty, Science and Cyberinfrastructure
Steve Sawyer
Pages: 355-371

ABSTRACT

Changes in access to data are leading to rapid ‘data wealth’ in some scientific fields, even as others remain ‘data‐poor’. Furthermore, the current attention towards developing computer‐based infrastructures and digital access to common data sets—the basics of scientific ‘cyberinfrastructures’—are too‐focused on fields of study characterized by data wealth. To better understand the implications of this twin pursuit of data wealth and cyberinfrastructure, I articulate how data‐poor scholarly fields differ from data‐rich fields. I then suggest four actions that scholars in data‐poor fields can take to improve their work’s value to science and society in lieu of being data‐rich and propose three design considerations for cyberinfrastructures that can better support data‐poor scholarly endeavors.

Towards a Cultural Economy Paradigm for the Australian Wine Industry
David Aylward
Pages: 373-385

ABSTRACT

The twenty‐first century wine industry is a very different one from that which dominated operations in the 1980s and 1990s. Production, distribution and marketing of wine are now colonised by an array of complex and intersecting dynamics. Primary among these is a growing demand among consumers for value‐added qualities. Particularly in mature markets, standardised, commodity‐style wine is failing to satisfy an increasingly educated consumer base. What is required now among a number of New World producers is an understanding of the way in which wine’s cultural and economic qualities can be woven into a more enriched fabric. This would not simply add cultural elements to an economically oriented product. Rather, it would weave individual and community values, passion, care, identity, and terroir together with the more tangible aspects of production, distribution, price‐points and marketing.

Such an enriched ‘fabric’ will be referred to throughout this paper as the cultural economy of wine. It will be argued that the Australian wine industry, as a case study, must not only reconfigure its operational structure to reflect these qualities, but must change the way it thinks collectively about its product if it is to remain competitive in an increasingly complex environment.

Review Article
Disruptive Dragons: Can China Change the Rules of Globalisation’s Game?
Stephen Little
Pages: 387-397

BOOK REVIEWS
Gerry Sweeney , Gerard Goggin , Hazel V. J. Moir , Stephen Fox , Howard Viney , Bernard McKenna , Ysanne Carlisle & Judith McCrory
Pages: 399-426

CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE
Page: 435