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 6, I would like to introduce to some and present to others:
Sherri L. Smith
Sherri L. Smith is a veteran journalist, blogger, and online community manager who has written for and supervised online communities for Fast Company, IncBizNet, PopGadget, ZiggyTek and Blackplanet.com. During her career she has interviewed Mary J. Blige, John Legend, Ne-Yo and Diddy.
Currently, she is the managing editor for Black Web 2.0 where she covers gadgets, gaming, social networking and web trends. She also provides content for BET.com. An avid supporter of social media. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin – you name it, she’s probably there.
How can we use technology to close the digital divide?
We can best close the digital by starting in the schools, ensuring that every child has access to a computer with high-speed Internet. By providing access in schools, students learn that computers are more than just another entertainment option, they’re a way to discover and interact with the world in ways that previously would have been impossible. However, we can not place the weight solely on schools. The community must come together to create programs that grants computer access to the community at large, further increasing the sphere of influence and education.
When I was in elementary school, my first exposure to tech began with a Commodore 64. I also had the benefit of a community program for grades 4-8 where engineers and people in IT industry would volunteer 2-3 hours of their Saturday mornings to teach kids how to really use the computer. From word processing to researching the capitol of Zaire to basic lessons in Auto-CAD, we were shown the tools that would potentially change our lives. During high school I spent a year at a charter school, with a technology-focused curriculum including desktop publishing, auto-tech, robotics, and audio/visual.
If programs similar to these could be modeled and disseminated areas where the community is low-income, rural, or underserved it would greatly lessen the effects of the digital divide as well as have the potential to create the next generation of leaders and innovators in tech.
You can follow the status of 28 Days of Diversity 2011 on http://28daysofdiversity.com and http://socialwayne.com/category/28-days-of-diversity/