My name is Nick LaLone and I am an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in the Department of Information Systems and Quantitative Analysis. My work inside of the socio-technical realm is focused on 2 things. The first is how humans and non-humans get to know each other and the second is technology use by emergency management and by people currently in the midst of an emergency. My work at the moment is focused on how best to integrate technology, which is often extremely fragile, and emergency management, which often works inside of piecemeal, often decimated environments. As an academic, I try to approach my work by trying to find a space through which the needs of researchers and practicioners can be met simultaneously. To that end, I am beginning my Emergency Management certification in February of 2021 so that I can better connect to the domain I want to help.
I began my life in academia not as a grad student but as administrative staff. I was charged with the responsibility of fostering technology use among the Sociologists in my department. I found this work challenging, but fascinating. I sought answers to the unasked, unconscious issues that I saw in the world of well-educated, well-informed social scientists from any place that I could find information. Names and terms like Object Oriented Ontology, Actor-Network Theory, the Social Construction of Technology introduced me to a number of concepts, epistemologies, and philosophies surrounding what would become known to me as, “non-human actors.” I began to read more and more and over time wanted to do more than foster technology use within the faculty of my department, I wanted to approach developers or just use of technology in general.
I enolled at Pennsylvania State University in the Information Science and Technology program. My intent was to simply gain new perspectives about technology at an iSchool since Penn State’s Science and Technology program had been sunset years before. However, as a resident of the iSchool, I was introduced to different levels of computation and began to expand my knowledge of how the computer actually works. After removing many of the barriers of use and fostering a growing sense of how programming worked, I returned to those initial questions I had as a systems support person; namely, how to foster a world where people, places, and things all learn to work together.