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Microscope and spectacle: On the complexities of using new visual technologies to communicate about wildlife communication

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Audrey Verma



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Wildlife conservation-related organisations increasingly employ new visual technologies in their science communication and public engagement efforts. Here, we examine the use of such technologies for wildlife conservation campaigns. We obtained empirical data from four UK-based organisations through semi-structured interviews and participant observation. Visual technologies were used to provide the knowledge and generate the emotional responses perceived by organisations as being necessary for motivating a sense of caring about wildlife. We term these two aspects ‘microscope’ and ‘spectacle’, metaphorical concepts denoting the duality through which these technologies speak to both the cognitive and the emotional. As conservation relies on public support, organisations have to be seen to deliver information that is not only sufficiently detailed and scientifically credible but also spectacular enough to capture public interest. Our investigation showed that balancing science and entertainment is a difficult undertaking for wildlife-related organisations as there are perceived risks of contriving experiences of nature and obscuring conservation aims.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Verma A, Van der Wal R, Fischer A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ambio

Year: 2015

Volume: 44

Issue: Suppl. 4

Pages: 648-660

Print publication date: 01/11/2015

Online publication date: 27/10/2015

Acceptance date: 15/12/2014

Date deposited: 05/12/2016

ISSN (print): 0044-7447

ISSN (electronic): 1654-7209

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s13280-015-0715-z


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