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“What Dr Venter did on his holidays”: exploration, hacking, entrepreneurship in the narratives of the Sorcerer II expedition

  • Author(s): Delfanti, Alessandro
  • Castelfranchi, Yurij
  • Pitrelli, Nico
  • et al.
Abstract

The Sorcerer II is the highly mediatized and spectacular Venter Institute's ship that circumnavigated the planet between 2003 and 2006 to collect and classify marine microbial genomes. We analyze Craig Venter's public communication activities and strategies especially focusing on the images of science and scientist he proposes: that of an eighteenth-century “savant” and nineteenth-century naturalist devoted to the exploration of new worlds, and that of the hacker, hero of informational capitalism. Emphasizing his independence from both academy and industry, but building strong alliances with both spheres and with the media, Craig Venter sails the oceans of the contemporary biotechnologies' market, interpreting a specific typology of the relationship between science and society, enterprises, universities.

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