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 28, I would like to introduce to some and present to others:
Navarrow Wright is the CTO of Interactive One, Interactive One is a digital and print media company
focusing on the African-American and urban market. As CTO Wright is responsible for the technical strategy
of all the Interactive One online properties which include Hellobeautiful, The UrbanDaily, NewsOne, Elev8
and BlackPlanet. He is also responsible for the technical management of the Radio One Network’s radio
With more than 18 years experience in the technology and media industry, Wright has established himself as
someone who can conceptualize and develop advanced technology solutions for leading global organizations.
Wright’s unique understanding of the Internet space and ability to marry those technical advances with
consumer demand has placed him as one of the premier technology experts in Internet and media. He prides
himself on showing youth how technology can enable them to achieve their dreams. He speaks to youth
groups up and down the east coast for various organizations and was recently given a commendation from
the city of Newark for his work with events that have a positive impact on young people. He has made it
his mission to be a voice for technology adoption in underserved areas and to ensure that the entrepreneurial
spirit is developed in urban youth. Wright currently blogs about these issues on his site Navarrowwright.com.
His blog posts have been featured on blackweb20.com and the huffingtonpost.com. You can also follow him
on twitter @navarrowwright.
Navarrow Co-founded with Hip Hop Mogul, Russell Simmons to create a social media site catering to
the hip-hop perspective, Global Grind.com. With funding from Accel Partners, the primary investors of
Facebook, “Global Grind’s mission is to be a platform that allowed the urban audience to show its
depth and breadth,” said Navarrow Wright, founder of Global Grind “by allowing its talented and diverse
members a place to find all the content that’s important to them, and giving creative entrepreneurs a place
to monetize their content and showcase it to largest audience possible. This network will be a significant
value to advertisers who are eager to reach this unique audience in a targeted and meaningful way.” Wright
successfully launched the product and raised the series A round of capitol. Wright also launched a vertical ad
network and celebrity blogger network while at Globalgrind.
Before joining Global Grind, Wright was SVP of Technology for Medical Broadcasting Company, a division
of the Internet marketing firm Digitas Inc. Prior to that, he served as CTO of Viacom’s BET Interactive. At
BET.com he created and implemented new technologies growing the Web site 300%, making it the leading
entertainment online destination for African Americans. It was during his tenure at BET that Wright realized
there was a need for a platform to showcase and promote all the creative content that is available on the net,
as well as promote content that is most important to them in a unique way. Which began to shape that idea
that eventually became Globalgrind.com
Navarrow Wright has appeared on Run’s house, Irv Gotti’s show Gotti’s Way NPR’s News and Notes and
the Steve Harvey radio show. He was picked by Network Journal Magazine as of the their “ 40 Under forty”
professionals to watch in 2009 and selected by the Innovation Generation as one of the nation’s top 100
GenerationNEXT and Information Technology leaders. Wright holds a Bachelor of Science degree from
Rider University in Computer Science.
How can we use technology to close the digital divide?
I have believed for some time now that the key to closing the the digital divide is by working to increase adoption and showing African Americans that there are relevant experiences for them online. I believe many people don’t know the advantages that exist for them in the areas of education, healthcare and career growth online and if we were able to promote those things to this audience that would definitely make a difference. The way I believe to best use technology to achieve this is by utilizing the technology medium that is most prevalent among African Americans, wireless devices. Even though less than 50% of african americans currently have adopted broadband Internet at home, we are extremely active on mobile devices. It has also been proven that when we find experiences that appeal to us we can have significant impact on them like we have had on Twitter. So I believe if we created more products to increase engagement which can also encourage us to want to enjoy those experiences at home. Then we will see the divide begin to narrow.
You can follow the status of 28 Days of Diversity 2011 on http://28daysofdiversity.com, http://socialwayne.com/category/28-days-of-diversity/ and syndicated on BlackWeb 2.0.