Word to Watch: Big Nanotech

Big Tobacco.
Big Oil.
Big Pharma.
Big Biotech.

Big Nanotech?

Each of these phrases are examples of frame devices, words that act like triggers in activating underlying cultural meanings.

In fact, these frame devices instantly communicate the public accountability frame: Who benefits? Who controls the science? Is this science in the public or in the private interest?

As nanotechnology climbs up the media agenda over the next decade, watch out for the "Big Nanotech" frame device. It will be a sign that interpretations of the issue are moving from a promotional emphasis on social progress and economic development to a potentially more controversy-laden emphasis on public accountability.