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 15, I would like to introduce to some and present to others:
Kurt Merriweather is Director, Digital Media Business Development and Strategy, Discovery Communications, Inc. (DCI). Merriweather oversees strategy and business development for Discovery’s web properties and mobile businesses. Merriweather developed business plans to successfully launch Discovery News and TLC Cooking web properties. He also led digital media team participation in the acquisition of HowStuffWorks, the largest digital media transaction in Company history. Merriweather is current leading Discovery’s social TV initiatives
Before joining Discovery in January 2007, Merriweather was Business Director for AOL Music Now and was responsible for AOL’s premium music business operations. Merriweather joined AOL in 2004 to lead product management for AOL’s anti-virus services. Merriweather joined AOL Digital Services in 2005 and was instrumental in defining AOL’s video search strategy. Merriweather has held a variety of product marketing positions at Silicon Graphics, Digital Island and Cable &Wireless.
Merriweather received his MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from The Ohio State University.
How can we use technology to close the digital divide?
The digital divide has historically been driven by lack of access to high-speed broadband connections in the home. That gap has begun to close for people of color. A breakthrough is on the horizon as people of color lead the way in mobile usage. In fact, Latinos and African-Americans lead the general population in the use of mobile internet and mobile applications (http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Mobile-Access-2010/Part-2.aspx). Edison Research reports that African-Americans drive 25% of all US Twitter usage while making up 12% of the US population. Furthermore, Latinos overindex at nearly the same rate with Latinos driving 17% of Twitter usage while making up 10% of the population. These numbers are shocking to most people when they hear them. People of color are indeed trailblazers in the consumption of media on emerging digital platforms.
However, a divide still exists as we have not yet moved to be creators of content at scale. We need more Tyler Perrys and Oprah Winfreys. The 2010 Census shows that growth in younger age groups is multiracial and multiethnic. This means that stories must be told from new points of view in order to resonate with tomorrow’s audiences. People of color must master the technology to create and distribute content in addition to consuming it. This will guarantee that stories yet to be told will be authentic, showcasing the rich experiences of a diverse people for all to see.
You can follow the status of 28 Days of Diversity 2011 on http://28daysofdiversity.com and http://socialwayne.com/category/28-days-of-diversity/