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#AskChicago: Rahm Emanuel Hosts First Facebook Town Hall

Though we could cast an endless array of jokes about political figures who’ve been brought to their knees and seen their political lives cut short by their inappropriate, if not wholly ill-advised, use of social media, a few stellar examples stand out as people willing to use the platform for greater constituent outreach and community engagement.

Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker has long been a frontrunner on the social media scene, with over 1,084,000 Twitter followers and nearly 50,000 Facebook Fans.  Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel is hot on his heels, though, perhaps borrowing inspiration from his long-time buddy and former boss, President Barack Obama, to guide his social media efforts.

In a first of its kind event for the city of Chicago, Emanuel will host a Facebook Town Hall, #AskChicago, today, Thursday, June 30 at 1:30pm.  As reported by Maegan Carberry for the Huffington Post,

Kevin Hauswirth, Chicago’s first-ever Social Media Director…”Mayor Emanuel is truly serious about building a more open, transparent government. We’re taking that commitment to the social media space,” Hauswirth says. “Everyday Chicagoans are talking about how to make this city even greater and Mayor’s Office wants to be part of those conversations on and off line.”

Carsberry also reports that Chicago’s CTO has made available a whole host of open government type info about the city on their website.  In an age when social media has the potential to either connect or corrupt, it’s refreshing to see politicians embracing the platform for social good.  Cheers to Mayor Emanuel! This is something that others should definitely take note of and replicate in their cities and towns across the country.

Facebook Changing the Way We Share Information

TechCrunch recently reported that Facebook accounts for 38% of all sharing online. The article, which summarized results from a ShareThis study quantifying how we share information online, confirmed what many of us have known for a while – social networking has irrevocably changed the way we interact with information and each other.  While raw data is impressive, the implications of how we share information are even more profound.  There are a couple of interesting points to be made about how social networking has changed the way we share information:

1)    The type of information we share is often insular and highly filtered.  Though social networking can connect us to millions of people and a wide array of subject matter, we seem to self-select online, focusing on receiving and sharing highly targeted information.  Although our universe technically gets bigger by the day, in reality, social sharing allows our worldview to stay pretty controlled, and even shrink.

2)    People we know become validators of information. When we receive information from shared links and other interactions across the social web, we tend to place the greatest weight on the information that’s shared with us from people we know. No longer do raw facts stand alone to justify our beliefs, but the person from whom we gather and receive information is just as, if not more so, important to our value of that information.

Needless to say, as social networking continues to evolve, our real life interactions with one another will likely continue to change as well.  Despite the boom over the past several years, we’re just at the beginning of the social media revolution

The Empowering Feeling of Creating a Start-up Should Be Experienced By More Of Us


I talk alot about Internet Start-ups. Not just because they are cool and exciting in mainstream way due to the movie “The Social Network” but more because of the power of the process. Being able to create something and sometimes quickly be able to have it have an effect on people , in some cases thousands of  them. It’s an experience unlike any other. You learn more about yourself and what your capable of than you could in almost any other situation. I speak about it because I know how  the experience changed me, changed how i think about solving problems and how i know there is always a way to solve them.  Whenever I read stories about start-ups today it makes me reflect on those things all over again. I came across and post on the business insider about students who took a class at Stanford and all creating facebook apps that had great success.  When I went to the page it showed the founders of the facebook app dodgeball. The key thing for me in the picture was that one of the founders was African American.

This made me reflect again on the many talk I’ve given about how minorities are missing out on this revolution and how the problem is systemic at cultural level. The only thing that is bigger than that challenge is the opportunity for the change that could occur for minorities and their surrounding communities if this s introduced in the right way. To change lives, change communities and empower who new segments of people is a immense thing if you think about it. My hope with this post that some one of color reads it and says ” maybe me” and possibly sees the picture and realizes that we can be involved in this revolution and decides to jump in. My push from broader internet and wireless access stems from the desire to see a new generation of people take hold the inspiration and have the tools to make things happen.

The story was sourced from a NY times article that include and audio slide that lets you hear first hang how the evolution from idea to product to company changed and inspired this group of students. It’s my hope that you will share it with someone and it will inspire them.

Check out the audio slide show here

Diversity in Tech: Be the Change You Want to See

This post originally appeared on

The Internet has spawned companies like Google and Facebook. Companies that have not only changed how we find and share information, but have impacted the economy with job creation and monetization opportunities for companies of all sizes on their platforms. The Internet has been a life-changing bed of opportunity for thousands of small companies and individuals. However within all this opportunity, there is a problem that doesn’t seem to be improving and isn’t being discussed — the lack of diversity in the startup technology space.

It’s not a hidden issue. Reports from CB Insights reveal that less than 1% of startup founders are African American. Minorities are consuming media at an astounding rate, but they are not involved in the product creation process.  The excuse that minorities just take longer to adapt to technology was one of the justifications given when the term “digital divide” was coined by Larry Irving. In an effort to show we’ve made some progress, it’s been upgraded to “digtal lag.”

Other reports such as the Pew study show that less that 50% of African Americans and slightly over 50% of Hispanics have adopted broadband Internet at home. This means that minority youth are not growing up with the Internet in their home or developing the comfort and confidence with the technology necessary to make technology an attainable career choice. They also don’t have access to all of the free online learning tools available. I believe there are things that all sides can do to help that can benefit everyone — from VCs and angel investors, startups both large and small, even the government.

As a community we need to ask ourselves, “What have I done to better position myself?” I do it and I’m not always happy with the answer. You want to be involved in the tech entrepreneurial space. Why not go to work at a startup to gain the experience and the relationships you can use when you launch your own? You’re aware of the skills these companies are looking for. What have you done to increase your skills in these areas?  Ultimately, we can either sit back and the let the gap widen or we can make a move to cross it. We have a value proposition problem in our youth today. They are not looking at the tech world as a viable career path. If we’re going to institute change, we have to change our own thinking about getting involved in tech.

Many of you who read this blog are entrepreneurs and want to learn how to grow your business, raise capital and get your product built.  You are looking in every direction except one:  yourself. Many startups stall because they can’t find that technical c0-founder. If you want to start a company and can’t find one then maybe you should become one. If there are two of you looking build a business then one of you bite the bullet and handle the tech side of things. Lastly, if you are in the industry, there are a bunch of people in NY and the Valley who have ideas and possible investors but need a tech founder. There are ways to gain entry into the industry if we are willing to do the work.

We owe it not only to ourselves but the world. So many great ideas never see the light of day because we don’t push hard enough to execute them. There are kids out there looking for someone to show them a different way. We have the opportunity to do that.  We can blame the current startup ecosystem for not making it easy for us. We can blame the government for not making sure they focus on the technology issues that truly affect us. We could do that, but I’m suggesting something different. Let’s achieve success in spite of the obstacles. All it takes is for us to make the decision to learn as much as possible and then do what we do best, break barriers. In the worlds of P. Diddy and B.I.G. “We can’t change the world unless we change ourselves.”

I’m ready to start. Are you with me?

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Be Part of History!


This Sunday, Anthony Anderson, Royale Watkins, teamwork entertainment and I have partnered to bring the first interactive live comedy show to Facebook. Sunday at 8pm the Mixtape comedy show hosted by Anthony Anderson, will be streamed live on Facebook. Help us make history by making this the biggest show ever. RSVP for the show at the Mixtape fan page here and join us Sunday night @8pm. Tell a friend, tell all your friends and be a part of history. This project truly shows the opportunities created by broadband. On the one side it’s give us the opportunity to be entrepreneurial and  create a new experience that can reach a large audience. And for the consumer the ability to be involved in an immersive entertainment experience from the comfort of their own home. This is just one example of what you can do with broadband access and it’s my hope that endeavors like this encourage a new generation of people to see what other possibilities for enriching experiences exist online. So Sunday night join us and laugh until your side hurts and remember this is only one of many things you can do with broadband at your fingertips.