In his contribution to the “Covid-19 and the Social Sciences” series, Robert Soden describes how mutual aid groups are more effectively responding to the pandemic with the help of a broad range of technological and social media tools. Using the insights of crisis informatics, he draws out connections between traditional community organizing, disaster response, data privacy, disinformation, and social and racial justice. In addition to considering the importance of understanding this community work and strategies for the current moment, Soden looks ahead to a postpandemic world, urging researchers and communities alike to be sure to use what is learned now to forge a just “new normal” for the future.
Writing for our “Chancing the Storm” series, Robert Soden discusses the multiple meanings and uses of “uncertainty” in understanding floods and people’s responses to information about them. Building on extensive research on the design of floodplain maps in Colorado that declare some places, but not others, at risk, Soden argues the techno-science understanding of uncertainty that these maps represent is important but limiting. To supplement this perspective, he calls for imagining uncertainty as productive (“generative”) and as socially and politically structured (“systematically produced”), drawing on examples from the floodplain mapping project.