Authors:Douglas Robinson, Martin Ruivenkamp, and Arie Rip
The past 10 years has seen an explosion of interest for the area of science and technology labelled “nanotechnology.” Although
at an early stage, nanotechnology is providing a space for the creation of new alliances and the forging of new ties in many
actor arenas, initiated based on promises and high expectations of the fruits that could be harvested from development and
investment into nanotechnology. Those trying to characterise the dynamics of emerging ties and networks within this field
are faced with a number of complexities which are characteristic of the nanotechnology umbrella term, which covers many technologies,
various mixes of disciplines and actors, and ongoing debates about definitions of fields and terminology.
In this paper we explore an approach for capturing dynamics of emergence of a particular area of nanotechnology by investigating
visions of possible futures in relation to molecular mechanical systems (molecular machines). The focus of this text is to
outline an approach used to map and analyse visions in an emerging field by taking as the unit of analysis linkages made in
statements in texts, and the agglomeration of linkages around certain nodes. Taking the linkage, rather than node, allows
one to probe deeper into the dynamics of emergence at early stages when definitions and meanings of certain words/nodes are
in flux and patterns of their use change dramatically over short periods of time.
As part of a larger project on single and macromolecular machines we explore the dynamics of visions in the field of molecular
machines with the eventual aim to elucidate the shaping strength of visions within nanotechnology.