Preparations for Session II: The Tour

Preparations for Session II: The Tour

In order to prepare you for Session II of the FCT and to better acquaint you with the prospects of nanotechnology, we have gathered the following materials that may help you to explore as lightly or deeply as you desire. We hope that these resources will give you the chance to think critically about how nanotechnology might impact your city.

As our look into the future of the city is focused on urban sustainability and a critical approach to the role of technology in society, we hope that this material will widen your perspective. These pieces help to position science and technology as a important features in contemporary social and economic life.

Background Information

  • Nano Questions - A very good primer for understanding and thinking about a wide range of questions related to nanotechnology and the effects it may have on society.
  • Innovation Policy: Not Just a Jumbo Shrimp - Argues that the social sciences can help lead to responsible innovation that takes into account the societal implications of research. The method proposed involves public engagement, using foresight techniques to anticipate possible scenarios, and integrating research done by the social and natural sciences.
  • 7 Amazing Ways Nanotechnology Is Changing The World - Nice accessible article from Popular Science. Be sure to check out the short photo gallery and the descriptions of the seven nanotechnologies.


  • What is Nano? - Aggregator for most of the good resources around the internet on nanotechnology. There are sections on introductions to nano, videos, audio, games, products & society, and DIY nano.
  • Consumer Product Inventory - This is a detailed inventory of nanotechnology-based consumer products currently on the market. While not comprehensive, this inventory gives the public the best available look at the 1,000+ products currently on the market.
  • National Nanotechnology Initiative - Official government website that contains a large amount of information about nanotechnology and related policies. A lot of the definitions and other information on the site are highly technical.
  • Nanotechnology in City Environments Database - This is an ever-growing database composed by the Center for Nanotechnology in Society. The database catalogues nanotechnological applications with particular attention paid to functionality, nanotechnological mechanisms, potential benefits, potential hazards, urban domain, development stage, and substitution properties.


  • Decisions in Innovation Systems - The video traces the general process for taking a new nanotechnology product from initial idea to consumer product. In addition to outlining the basic parts of the innovation system, it also highlights the decisions researchers make as they create nanotechnologies and the way that values can inform those decisions.
  • Speed Bump - Uses speed bumps as a way of illustrating our three key considerations: 1) Values shape technologies; 2) Technologies affect social relationships; 3) Technologies work because they’re part of systems.
  • Tomato Harvester - Briefly describes how our values shape which technologies are developed and adopted by society. In doing so, it uses the example of the mechanized tomato picker from the 1960s.
  • MIT Media Lab City Science TEDtalk - This TEDtalk by Kent Larson of the MIT Media Lab describes some of the research from their City Science project: folding cars; quick-change apartments; and other technologies that could reshape the city of the future.

To Learn Even More [optional reading]