As we all know, February is Black History Month. It’s a month where we honor those who have made an impact on American culture for equal rights, those who have invented, those who have a helped others and those who have inspired everyone to be the best they can be, not only as a person of color but as a human. Last year for Black History Month, I started an online series called 28 Days Diversity where I would feature someone new everyday during the month of February for just being awesome in their own right. Even though it’s black history month, the goal for 28 Days of Diversity is to feature not just African-Americans but other minorities in the web/tech space. Also note that 28 Days of Diversity is not a popularity contest or an influencer list but a list of thought leaders in the social web sector, including entrepreneurs, bloggers, conference organizers, IT professionals and friends not ranked in any particular order who I have either met in person or followed online. Each post will include a picture, bio, two links from the selected person and this paragraph.
For 2011 I wanted to not just feature individuals but also address a topic that affects everyone. For 28 Days of Diversity 2011 each post/person will answer the question “How can we use technology to close the digital divide?” So for the next 28 days, come back to visit SocialWayne.com/tag/28daysofdiversity and 28daysofdiversity.com to see who’s on the list. For day 14, I would like to introduce to some and present to others:
L. Danielle Baldwin
Every time someone calls L. Danielle Baldwin a geek she smiles. That is because to Danielle, being called a geek is a compliment. Danielle Baldwin is a graphic designer, code-crazy developer and social media Maven who works with small businesses, non-profits and individuals to create a well developed social media presence online.
Danielle Baldwin is also an insomniac. How else would she be able to juggle a full time job as Web Manager for University Relations at UNC Greensboro, and full time duties as founder and lead designer/developer of her company Sociia Internet Communications? Danielle is also involved in social media at UNCG as a part of a solid social media team that covers all things social media for the university including tweeting for the university under the ID @UNCG. She also finds time to tweet for over 8 other individuals and companies weekly. All this while she also enjoys a full schedule of conferences, social media related activities and creating her own line of jewelry. Danielle is a “Jane of all trades” and uses her knowledge of all things social and the Internet to provide well rounded solutions for her clients.
Danielle’s most important goal is finding new and unique ways to excite young girls and women about technology, social media and all things Internet related. One of the tools she uses to connect to young women is WordPress, a free and open source blogging platform that is more than meets the eye. Danielle is passionate about spreading the news about WordPress and how non-profits and small businesses can use it to help increase awareness about specific causes, products and services.
In 2011 alone, Danielle has 2 books, 2 conferences, and a host of other workshops specifically targeted towards women and girls interested and involved in technology and science in the works. You can also find Danielle online talking about WordPress weekly with members of Web Services at NCCU’s podcast about all things tech called Room 3026 via BlogTalkRadio.com
How can we use technology to close the digital divide?
So many products and services dealing with technology today focus on early adopters and the have and have nots, meaning you either have the latest and greatest or you fall in with the have nots. Many times, this focus on the HAVE’s is also a focus on those that can AFFORD to be the first one in the office with the latest phone or the first one on the block with the latest gaming system. Those that cannot afford the latest in technology are often left out or left behind until that technology becomes cheaper, which also means older. This older technology often finds its way into our classrooms and learning centers or bypasses these places of learning altogether and goes straight into the landfill. Instead of our children having the latest in technology to help them learn and compete with children in other countries, our education system is filled with computers that are at best 5-8 years old, defeating the purpose of having technology in the schools at all.
If we really want to do something significant about bridging the digital divide between our country and other countries, specifically in the subjects of math, science and computers; we must start filling our schools with the latest in technology, staffing our schools with those that can teach our children how to use and benefit from this technology and we must do it often and early. We can do this in a number of ways, including:
- teaching students how to develop websites and applications that can better their lives and the lives of others,
- remembering that technology is for everyone by bringing newer and improved technologies into inner cities and urban centers so that we can reach children from socioeconomically diverse backgrounds,
- showing students how to use computers to do research for classroom projects to broaden the learning process,
- getting more young girls excited about and involved in math, science and technology, the building blocks for becoming the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or just a great coding geek like some of the women I know of and follow.
We always say that the children are our future but when was the last time we actually put technology where our mouths were? When was the last time we invested in our futures by investing in technology to ensure they would have a future brighter than our own?
I challenge every woman out there interested in technology to find one girl and get her excited about learning how to blog or how to develop a website in CSS, HTML and PHP. I challenge every man out there interested in technology to do the same for a young man they know. Start with one, impact a few.
You can follow the status of 28 Days of Diversity 2011 on http://28daysofdiversity.com and http://socialwayne.com/category/28-days-of-diversity/