E-Mail as the Modern SOS: Enlisting Cyber Allies in a "Save our Undergraduate Program" Campaign

  • James A. Forte Salisbury University, Maryland


Social workers ' ambivalence about computer technologies has limited the application of new tools to social action projects. An interactionist framework for appraising the utility and morality of technological applications is presented. Additionally, a natural history of how e-mail was used as a "pragmatic technology" to enlist "cyber allies" in response to the threatened closure of an undergraduate social work program is narrated. The social and political context for computer-mediated community organizing is described, and the major components of the improvised change process (guiding conceptions, goals, intervention tools, assessment procedures, evaluation) are reviewed. Post-crisis interpretations of how members of a virtual social network acted together to save the program, and lessons for social work educators and practitioners open to the practical and responsible use of the internet are offered.

General Submissions