In the second Installment of my Interview with Soledad Obrien for Black In America we talk about why I feel no one is will to address the disparity in the number of minorities in the technology space.
Toward the end of last year, the Pew Internet and American Life Project released a study saying that African Americans and Hispanics were among the highest users of wireless Internet. During his State of the Union address, President Obama shared his vision of connecting 95% of Americans with high-speed 4G wireless broadband. And over the past few months, broadcasters and Internet Service Providers have been in discussions with the Federal Communications Commission about the impending spectrum shortage and how best to accommodate the increasing demand for wireless Internet access.
It’s clear that wireless is the hot ticket in town when it comes to getting folks online. But what surprises me about some of the discussions of late is the seeming lack of focus on what’s best for the consumer, the end-user of wireless technologies. Broadcasters are up in arms because they’re afraid of sacrificing their much-coveted (but often unused) spectrum. ISPs insist that more spectrum must be acquired in order to meet consumer demands for faster speeds and more reliable service. So why not compromise, because it seems to me that the consumers’ interest lies between the two.
Study after study has shown that wireless access is rapidly becoming the preferred mode of connecting to the Internet, especially for younger people, folks living on fixed incomes, and people who are from traditionally unserved and underserved communities. If we know that by getting these folks wireless access, we can practically ensure their adoption of broadband – that technology that’s so vital to our 21st century innovation economy – then what’s the hold up?
Should broadcasters play nice with their spectrum – yes! Can they be compensated to play the game – sure why not. Do we want ISPs to more efficiently manage traffic online so that we can have the best user experience possible – definitely. Ought getting spectrum (i.e. better, stronger, faster networks) to the people be a top priority – absolutely!
There’s more than one way to skin a cat. And a whole spectrum of solutions abound when it comes to solving the wireless adoption equation.
As unemployment rates continue to remain high among African Americans. As this article on NewsOne shows the results are staggering. The issue is that these are more than statistics, they represent people with lives and families and people like you and me. The other problem is that mainstream society will not come up with solutions to solve this problem in the short term so we need to start coming up with them ourselves. I believe that is continuing to be overlooked is the Internet and wireless arena. While these unemployment numbers continue to rise technology companies are hungry for talent. Creating programs where the unemployed can be trained to fill these needs at Internet and wireless companies is key. Jason Calacanis @jason suggested recently that html/css bootcamps be created and the participants pay only if they get a job in the tech sector. If the government would fund these type of programs it would do more to change the current minority unemployment situation than any of the current ideas on the table. Digital literacy creates digital empowerment which allows people to take advantage of digital opportunities. And if you don’t think the problem is worth focusing on look at the numbers below
Examples of cities where Black unemployment has risen dramatically:
2006 = Birmingham, Alabama = 5.3 %
2011 = Birmingham, Alabama = 14.5%
2006 = Miami, Florida = 6.7%
2011 = Miami, Florida = 17.2%
2006 = Los Angeles, California = 8.6%
2011 = Los Angeles, California = 19.3%
2006 = Detroit, Michigan = 12.00%
2011 = Detroit, Michigan = 25.7 %
2006 = Las Vegas, Nevada = 13%
2011 = Las Vegas, Nevada = 25%
2006 = Charlotte, North Carolina = 8%
2011 = Charlotte, North Carolina = 19%
Everyone everywhere has witnessed the public meltdown of Charlie Sheen, whether we want to or not. And whether your entertained by or disgusted by it, there is no question that you feel like you’re a part of it. While we have all read a Star or OK magazine from time while checking out at the store (You may not admit but you know you have) it was mostly a disconnected experience for us. We may laugh or shake our head in disbelief but then we quickly walk away and move on with our day. Never truly knowing how true the story is or getting the celebrity’s perspective, but that has now all changed.
The Velvet Rope has been lowered
From celebrity twitter accounts to their Ustream broadcasts we are now more connected to celebrities and even more importantly they are connected to us. Did you ever think back you watched Wall Street, Major League, or and Episode of Two and a Half Men that would one day be able to connect with Charlie Sheen directly on the internet? (http://www.ustream.tv/charliesheen) And now that you can I don’t think we will ever go back.
Social Media Gives Our Voice A Platform
It’s not a one-way street either. Not only are we able to connected to Celebrities but they are also connected to us. We have to power to express ourselves in various forms that make them take note and that they can’t ignore. A great example of this a 10-year old girl who recently took to the internet to write an open letter to Rapper Lil Wayne letting know that she tired and fed up with how he degrades women in his lyrics.
“Letter to Lil Wayne” is a direct statement of justice from Watoto From The Nile. Growing tired and fed up with the constant degradation of Black women inside of Hip Hop music, they voice their views and opinions on this melodic track
This statement is powerful in multiple ways. One in that through the openness of the internet these young girls felt empowered to make a statement for what they believe in and second in that there is a real possibility that he will hear the statement if he has not gotten wind of it already. This is just another example of how the Internet continues to remove the degrees of separation between us and allows us to impact or influence people who were previously untouchable. The hope should be that this allows for a crowd sourced checks and balance system where anyone who takes it to far can hear from the people they effect and be pushed to at least acknowledge it. And so that more young people Nya and Nia feel the confidence and conviction to make their voices heard from their broadband connection.
I recently was asked to answer some questions as part of the 30 sec MBA series on FastCompany.com. I was humbled to be asked to be in the company of some great thought leaders. Take a look and let me know what you think.
One of the great things about our nation is that the U.S. government does not “own” the news media. Unlike some other nations, armed agents don’t burst through the doors of our TV stations and newspapers when they disagree with a story. Journalists don’t disappear. Instead, awards are given to those who challenge the status quo; and we often encourage people to express themselves across a variety of platforms. For this reason, ideas and insight have flourished.
It is precisely because of the way media has impacted culture over the years, absent government intervention, that I get concerned when the government tries to jump in and say, “Let us help you.” Journalism isn’t what it used to be, particularly when you look at the declining popularity of daily printed newspaper, and now, as a quick fix, some government men (or G-Men, as they were known in the 1930s when newspapers were in at the peak of popularity) want to come to the rescue.
I’ve got to agree with Jeff Jarvis, a professor at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism who joined me on a recent panel sponsored by the FCC to discuss the changing landscape of journalism and the potential role of the government: In a column entitled, “How NOT to Save Journalism,” he points out that “the barrier to entry into the media business has never been lower — and that means news can grow. “
Jarvis wrote: “The government should favor neither incumbents nor newcomers, but rather create a level playing field by helping every American get open, high-speed access to the Internet. That is the gateway to the real future of news and media. I believe that future is entrepreneurial, not institutional. The industry’s institutions have had 15 years since the start of the commercial Web, and we’ve seen how far they can come. What we need now are innovators — like my entrepreneurial journalism students — to invent new forms, structures, efficiencies and business models for news. But those entrepreneurs don’t need government help. They need to be left alone with the assurance they won’t be interfered with by” government regulators.
If you want to read why I say amen, click here
I came across an article today that was written by Harold Ford Jr.
http://www.broadbandforamerica.com/blog/harold-ford-jr-time-reality-check in response to an earlier article he published on the Huffington post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harold-ford/fcc-re-designation-of-bro_b_588879.html) about his thoughts on the FCC’s attempts at reclassifying broadband service as a means of regulating it.
Of course, when I went to the original article the list of comments were a mile long, and people from Free Press were calling the former Congressman a puppet and fueling the fire for others to attack his credibility and ability to think for himself.
My first question is, does this type of character bashing really help to educate the people about the issues at hand? Does it in any way advance the conversation towards solutions that will actually work? The answer is NO! It just continues to derail the conversation about Internet regulation into senseless bickering.
Really Free Press, what is it that you do? You have yet to give a clear definition of Net Neutrality. You claim to be advocates for free speech but you are hypocritical in even that stance when it comes to your own events.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/navarrow-wright/the-internet-is-open-unle_b_584822.html P.S. I’m still waiting for a response as to why my comments, and other voices of opposition, are consistently filtered out of any “dialogue” you guys initiate about Internet regulation.
The “Real” reality is that while groups like this draw more and more people into useless bickering that is more about “political” posturing than anything else, the Internet can and must continue moving forward. New technologies are being created, like HTML5, new devices are being launched and new companies are being created that are focused on bringing these products to the masses; all under the Internet’s current structure.
While some people sell hypothetical scenarios to cause anxiety, real people are getting things done. The “Real” reality is that there are people out there who need to be educated about the benefits of internet adoption now and not be confused by “what ifs” before they have a chance to get online.
The “real” reality is that the government can’t keep up with this innovation and should focus on adoption and education to bring more people to table.
The “real” reality is that unless they are willing to be a constructive part of the movement to get all Americans online, Free Press should get out of the way so that “real” solutions can take shape.