My name is Nick LaLone and I am an Assistant Professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the School of Interactive Games and Media. My work focuses primarily on risk, equity, and technology’s role with risk. By risk, I mean to say how precarious human settlements are with regard to natural (i.e. Earthquakes, Fires, Flooding, etc) and technological hazards (i.e. Ransomware, hacking attacks, and other forms of losses of control).
I approach this work in 3 ways:
- Getting emergency managers and software developers to know each other better,
- Training emergency managers how to use technology,
- and designing new technologies to encapsulate what common ground technologists and emergency management practitioners have found.
At the moment, I am focused on how best to integrate technology, which is often incapable of being used during a widescale hazard event, with emergency management. This space is of vital importance as we cannot fully understand risk and equity until a hazard event occurs and emergency management is that group that responds to both risk and hazard.
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. I am currently pursuing my Emergency Management certification so that I can better connect to the domain I want to help and actually deploy some of the lessons I have learned.
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.