A Time to Help

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Helping Hands Help the Stomach September 29, 2010

Filed under: Community Service — Anita DeCianni-Brown @ 4:37 pm
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Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not. ~Dr. Seuss


Saturday I realized ~ the countdown to the holiday season “begins” … 3 months until Christmas.  My heart did skip a beat because yes, I do love the season.  It’s a season full of traditions.  It’s also probably one of the most giving seasons as well.  Much broader than the gifts we exchange with family and friends.  It’s the giving to many of the unknown through the charitable organizations, Salvation Army bell ringers, coat drives, toy drives ~ and the very important, food drives.


Since my oldest daughter turned 5, we have participated in Green Island’s food drive every single year, regardless of rain or snow (and we’ve had both).  Though it may seem like an enormous task, it really is quite simple.


  • Select a date
  • Get the word out – distribute flyers in your neighborhood, community, school, workplace.  Let them know if there are drop boxes or if you will go around and collect, as well as the receiving organization (homeless shelter, food pantry, etc.).
  • Collect your donations – even in tough times, our community never ceases to amaze me with their generosity.  Maybe it’s knowing that a few canned items, and a few boxed foods can help feed a family in our community helping them through the tough times.  If it is boxes in your school or workplace, that’s easy to do as well.  Create several drop boxes (the more visibility and boxes, the more people will remember to drop some donations in).
  • Organize – deliver everything to the food pantry/homeless shelter, unpack and sort the donations.


Doesn’t that sound easy?  Now that the game plan is set, let me take this to the next level.


Here’s my request to my friends. Organize or participate in a food drive or food collection in your school, workplace, on your street or in your community.  Better yet, have your children help you.  There’s no better time to than the present ~ to give a little time and donations, which will help a lot.  You’d be amazed at how much fun your kids can have participating in something like this … and get them started when they are young to help those who are in need.


Social media can be very inspiring and helpful ~ when used the right way.  I’d like to track my friends and my friends’ who are willing to do a food drive.  I will list communities, neighborhoods, schools or businesses where you are organizing or participating in a food drive.  Refer people to post on my Facebook Food Drive page.  I’d like to use this information for a class I am taking this semester on Community and Social Informatics.


The Power of Social Media

Filed under: Social/Community Informatics — Anita DeCianni-Brown @ 10:00 am
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As a lead in to my side-bar top in my blog, I selected a passage from Gunilla Bradley’s, Social and Community Informatics:  Humans on the Net to focus on.  Bradley states, “If technology is used properly, it can give us more time for human contacts.”   (p. 80)   She goes on to describe scenarios that are pros and cons regarding the virtual world.  People spend enormous amounts of time in front of a computer screen.  There’s less dialogue, more text between people.  People hide behind their screen.  Some hiding from conflict, while others feel this sense of power to say to bully and degrade others.


But then, people can find a balance.  They can use the virtual world to promote and get others involved in events, that maybe they would not have know about.  Which takes me to my next blog about my project for this course.


I am working with the Green Island Food Pantry as a service project for this course.  Though I have worked on the Food Drive for 15 years now, I will be able to delve a little deeper into the inner workings of the Pantry.  I’ve put together a page on Facebook where hopefully others will post Food Drive activities they are involved in.  The one thing I have noticed in the past two years is the “power” of the social networks through the world wide web, and how one can promote the good deeds and projects that are out there.  Using Bradley’s comment, I will use the technology I have before me, promoting this event.  The days that we organize the various pieces of the drive from flyer distribution, to pick-up, organization, packing and then delivery ~ the human side and hearts will be out in full force.


Bradley, Gunilla.  Social and Community Informatics  Humans on the Net.  New York:  Routledge


Social Informatics September 25, 2010

Filed under: Social/Community Informatics — Anita DeCianni-Brown @ 2:16 am


According to Rob Kling, “Social informatics refers to the interdisciplinary study of the design, uses, and consequences of ICTs (Information and Communications Technology) that takes into account their interaction with institutional and cultural contexts.” (p. 6) It’s characterization is by the examined problems as opposed to theories or methods used in research studies. Social informatics research is broken up into a few segments.


Normative Orientation – refers to research aimed at recommending alternatives for those who design, implement, use or make policy about ICT’s. In earlier stages, research showed information systems were effectively utilized when those who worked with them regularly had a say in the design.


Analytical Orientation – refers to studies that develop theories about ICTs in institutional and cultural contexts or to empirical studies that are organized to contribute to this framework. With this area of research, comparisons were made using public schools in both university towns and cities. Public schools in university towns have access to technically skilled undergraduates and can use them for support through part-time jobs, internships or independent study courses. Using the same ICTs, they may be unworkable for public schools in cities where they may use inexpensive technical talent. The analytical approach to this problem is to provide resources for training, consulting and maintaining ICTs.


Critical Orientation – refers to examining ICTs from perspectives that do not automatically and uncritically accept the goals and beliefs of the groups that commission, design or implement specific ICTs. Examples of studies using critical orientation seem to come in the form of evaluating systems. One example explained was a law firm looking to automate coding of legal documents. Because the coding was more complex and needed human decision, the social informatician recommended designing information systems to help clerks with their jobs as opposed to replacing them. Another example used was creating a scheduling system for a surgical room. This system created conflicts with the scheduling of doctors and nurses when exceptions needed to be made.


Thinking through the divisions of research and study, in my simplest thoughts – shopping for a computer, it seems like ordering items off a menu. How much RAM, GB, what internal organs does this piece of equipment need? Set it up at home/in the office and we expect it to do everything we wanted it to do, and then some. Make things easier for us, create a system so bing, bang, boom, it does what we want it to. But from the first step of ordering the computer, did we understand what we wanted it to do in the first place? I think of the work I do in my office with graphics. If I didn’t have a say in the decisions to purchase my computer I could have ended up with a slow running computer that would take forever to run graphic programs.  It is possible for someone to buy more of a computer than they need, or sometimes, not enough.


Why is it important?  I believe when we accept the purpose of ICTs and not think they are the means to the end, maybe more of a connection tool.  What purpose does it serve?  How does it serve the needs of the organization or the individual.  I look at myself and the experiences I am having as a student at Empire State College, Center for Distance Learning.  Currently, I am taking 3 online courses and one course in the classroom at RPI.  ESC is a perfect venue for my busy schedule.  I am able to take courses online, which though some may snub their nose and think it’s not a true learning environment – think again!  It is actually a bit harder.  While it has many, many advantages, it also has some disadvantages.  I’ll compare two art courses, one that I am taking at RPI, one that I took through ESC.  The course that I took through ESC, was great, but how a downside as well.  When doing a class presentation of a project or working in a group project, we rely on comments, feedback and contributions of others at their convenience during the select time frame.  The course I’m taking at RPI, we sit in class together to go over the presentation, talk it out.  When presenting, we have comments, critiques and suggestions that are much easier to work through.  Balancing out the pros and cons, in my particular case, the pros far outweigh the cons in distance learning.



Kling, R., Rosenbaum, H., Sawyer, S. Understanding & Communicating Social Informatics: A Framework for Studying and Teaching the Human Contexts of Information and Communication Technologies. 2005. New Jersey: Information Today.