David Berube highlights one of my concerns – the use of advertorials to “increase the public’s understanding of nanotechnology.” I receive endless invitations to participate in special supplements, TV reports and radio spots, all of which carry some kind of price tag. The TV spots are usually the most annoying, with a salesmen spending up to half an hour buttering you up and making production arrangements before revealing that they just need a “contribution to production costs” of twenty thousand dollars.
I wonder how the market looks for these type of publications – I could imagine that a few years ago they may have been popular, but now that the hype has dissipated and we all wallow in the trough of disillusionment for a while, just who is advertising “nanotechnology” to readers of the Times and New York Times? Most advertising takes place in the specialist press, if you are selling nanoparticles for composites you advertise in Plastics Weekly or some such trade journal, if you are selling microscopes you advertise in Microscopy Today or various scientific journals.
It would be nice to see the supplement being written by someone who understands something about nanotechnology, but the expert usually ends up being some bloke who has added a pinch of nanotubes to a tennis racket factory or produced a new improved toilet cleaner.