All Articles Tagged "black tech"
In today’s fast-moving times, we’re all looking for a little support and validation. In that regard, Lauren deLisa Coleman just may be one of this new era’s powerati-to-watch. Coleman, who also writes for Madame Noire Business and profiles fellow tech professionals, is well-positioned as a rising, formidable information source and media personality for the new digi-speak era. She runds a new social site venture and leading podcast under the umbrella of SmartPower.
Prior to her current work, the Columbia University graduate founded Punch Media Group (PMG), a strategy and consulting company with offices in the U.S. and Europe specializing in digital space whose clients ranged from Microsoft to Snoop Dogg and was responsible for at least $1 billion worth of goods sold via clients. Prior to PMG, Coleman held several positions at MTV Networks in New York City.
With the release of her first eBook, The Rise of the SmartPower Class, we turned the tables on the media maven. Check out what she had to say, her first eBook and was included in its first week on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases – Best: Media Studies” so we thought we’d check in with her to see what all the fuss is about….
What inspired you to write this book?
Well, it sprang from just watching what is going on in the world today coupled with my consulting work on a number of projects. I’ve always been very curious about people and their behavior. I think a lot of that started in my music industry days and dealing with hip hop. As I moved further into the tech space as a mobile strategist after that, however, and looked both the benefit and disruption that brought to people, I decided to analyze, write and speak further about it – particularly from the importance of adding a female perspective to the mix. I wanted to help people better navigate and make sense of turbulent times and somehow my book and other media assets have unfolded. What has been missing in helping people is a more hip, organic analysis of what’s going on today and a nurturing/respect of each individual. That’s what I’m bringing – something totally new and a result of my unique background and work experience.
How has your book been received so far?
It’s just getting started, but it’s been received very well so far. I was thrilled be listed the first week on Amazon’s Hot New Releases: Best – Media Studies” just under Andrew Breitbart’s book .
What’s the major take away?
That we need to be very much aware of a great shift that is happening in our society and not be left behind, particularly as Black women. We out index for example, in social media frequency from mobile phones but we can benefit from being more savvy about the power that this represents and how to best use it! This book will help people while also being pretty entertaining. I’ve included quotes from a variety of notables such as Chuck D and the HBO executive for “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
One of reasons cited for why African Americans choose not to pursue a career in technology is that they rarely see people who look like them involved in computing. I can certainly identify with the research. In a career that spans 25 years as a software engineer, I can count on one hand the number of African Americans I have worked with during that time.
While it is true that African Americans are severely under represented in computing, there are role models in technology that can help our young people to identify with these fields. The African American community must do a better job of not only showing our young people current role models, but we must also do better at informing our young people that Africans as well as African Americans have played a role in the evolution of the computing industry. This is key to closing the digital divide, and traditional Black media can play a significant role in bringing this information to our communities.
As a black man who believes in supporting Black-owned businesses I have patronized all forms of traditional Black media most of my adult life to include networks such as BET and TVOne, print magazines such as Ebony and Essence, as well as local, national, and satellite radio. With the exception of XM Radio’s The Mario Armstrong Show, which focuses on helping folks to embrace a digital lifestyle, and Black Enterprise magazine there is scant mention of the of technology and its importance in the lives of African Americans.
I do not believe in complaining about a problem, I believe in taking action. I wrote to newspapers as well as magazines and suggested that space be allocated to provide this critical information to the black community. I offered to provide the information free of charge as a service to the community and I made the case that at this point in our history, making sure our people embrace technology as we move forward in the 21st century is CRUCIAL to our survival – of this, there is no doubt.
Most of the organizations that I wrote simply did not respond. A few others responded with a “thanks, but no thanks”, and a couple offered me the opportunity to bridge the gap. This is simply not good enough. What is the reason for the resistance? How do we expect our young people to view technology as important if we are not discussing it in our media? Why do most of these outlets not consider the topic of technology just as important as finance, spirituality, or health?
Most often when there is a mention of technology in Black media it is coming from a consumer perspective. National publications may make mention of a great new iPhone app that you can purchase, but there is no mention of the 2 sisters at Spelman College who won the AT&T sponsored mobile application development competition or that Morehouse College hosted a National Business Plan competition that was focused on students submitting smart phone application ideas. And even when they were mentioned in a few outlets, there is not another such story for weeks or months. We need a steady diet.
Those 2 sisters and the young men who participated in the competition at Morehouse could provide wonderful role models for our youth. We have the role models, what is lacking is the distribution of this information to our communities. What is lacking is the coverage of these technology-centric stories. Who better to fill this void than our beloved traditional black media.
Kai Dupé is a doctoral student at Pepperdine University where he is conducting research on Why African American Males Are Underrepresented in Computing. Kai can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting his website at www.
by Lauren Coleman
Mobile phone applications are being downloaded at an impressive rate. In fact a research company called Gartner just announced earlier this year that by the end of 2014, over 185 billion applications will have been downloaded from mobile app stores, since the launch of the first one in July 2008. Apps are being developed to do everything from monitor your health to organize your finances, but what are the favorite applications being used by those who work in various parts of the tech industry? I decided to go behind the screen with a few members of the technorati and find out.
Cardio Trainer tops Mark Nyon’s list. “My favorite app right now is easily Cardio Trainer by Worksmart Labs. It’s free, and uses GPS to track my route as I rollerblade (I rollerblade between 30 and 50 miles per week). This exercise is helps me maintain my life/work balance as the principal and CEO of Grand Kru Technologies.”
In the past year, the lack of African-Americans in Silicon Valley has been well-documented. But no one needs a report or study to really understand how much Blacks are lacking in the behind-the-scenes action of the tech space. It’s a deficiency of sorts that doesn’t make sense considering our capacities to tap into the market.
The experience of Kiratiana Freelon, editor for BlackAtlas.com and author of “Kiratiana’s Travel Guide to Black Paris,” may very well reflect the perceptions that deter greater African-American involvement. “Even though I had gone to Harvard, attended the same colleges as these tech superstars [like] Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, I never in my life thought that I could apply my ideas to technology and create something until last year.”
The life changing moment for Freelon came at the SXSW 2010 festival, where she witnessed a pitch event involving a myriad of enterpreneurs who had built web apps and tech companies.
“It made me [ask myself] ‘why am I not considering starting a tech company as well?” she said. “I was always thinking of myself as a blogger, a video blogger or a social media enthusiast. It made me realize that all that tech people were doing were solving problems. Although I didn’t have the tech abilities to code a problem, I still could partner with a tech person to develop an idea that solves a problem and helps people.”
Not only did the experience change Freelon’s approach to her own media career but also ignited her passion to encourage more African-American to pursue tech entrepreneurship as she witnessed the dearth of Black figures representing in tech. With that, her “100% Viable, 1% Visible” project was born. She presented her findings about the lack of African-American participation in Silicon Valley and the opportunities for improving participation at the most recent SXSW festival.
She extrapolated on a 2010 study conducted by MIT MBA student Allen T. Lamb which researched why African-American led companies were so far behind that of its white and Asian-led counterparts. Among other things, the study showed that African-American headed companies are underfunded from the start and many African-American entrepreneurs live outside of tech centers.
“There’s not enough minorities in the Slicon Valley ecosystem – the people who are funding the companies don’t get to know African-Americans personally,” said Freelon. “If you are going to play with the big dogs, you gotta live there, be [amongst] them.”
by Kweli Wright
Name: Nichelle Stephens
Hometown: Birmingham Alabama, currently in NYC
Favorite website: buzzfeed.com
Favorite read: The Living Is Easy by Dorothy West
Recent read: My Life in Three Acts by Pam Grier
Most inspired by: Mom
Favorite cupcake flavor: Hazelnut or Nutella cupcakes and caramel sea-salt
Quote governing your mission: “My color is my joy and not my burden…” –Bebe Moore Campbell
Twitter handle: @niche
When it comes to making it in media these days, you have to be a Jack (or Jackie) of all trades. After her start as an accountant, Nichelle Stephens followed her passions to not only establish herself as a financial blogger, but as an editor, small business consultant, social media strategist and, of all things, a cupcake enthusiast. Her transition from money to cake was not always easy, but through her talents as a writer–Nichelle currently has four blogs–she has crafted a multi-layered career that allows her the freedom to create and inspire others.
“In the beginning, the blogging was an outlet,” says Stephens. “It wasn’t until three years ago that I really started making some money. Now [my blogging is] a profit-making entity.” Here, the blogger, editor and social media strategist, talks to us about juggling jobs and tasting cupcakes.
Have you always wanted a career in media?
I can’t say that I focused on media, but I love to write. In high school, I wrote poetry and always loved being creative.
So accounting was your job and blogging…?
I started blogging about six years ago with Keeping Nickels. It was an outlet from doing accounting bookkeeping, where I could write financial tips for start-ups and businesses, write small business information, give advice about personal finance. I have a degree in accounting and worked at a management consultant firm, so I had the experience. I also have my personal blog– Nichelle Stephens–which is my fun side. I have another blog about women and money, I Can Bring Home The Bacon.
You’re also a founding co-editor at Cupcakes Take the Cake, the most popular cupcake blog. Tell us how that came about.
Back in 2004, my friend Rachel [Kramer Bussel] and I would buy cupcakes and take them to events–birthday parties, press events, book parties–anywhere we knew a crowd who be, and it seemed like cupcakes were everywhere, so we decided to start this blog. It’s not about recipes and baking, but the wonderful varieties out there and how popular cupcakes are not only in the United States, but around the world. We have a list of cupcake shops from Sao Paulo. Brazil to Singapore. We even host cupcake business classes teaching bakers how to promote themselves.
It’s amazing that you have time for another gig. How did you connect with Pepsi to become the Community Editor for the Pepsi We Inspire blog?
They actually found me. I built my online presence six years ago and from day one I’ve been prolific with my writing, I guess they recognized that. They liked my voice from my personal site, my Twitter feed. That’s one great thing about Twitter, you can use it to discuss off-the-cuff things that you are thinking about and relate to other people.
Were you concerned that Pepsi We Inspire was going to be more about pushing the brand than inspiring African-American women?
Before I got the job, I met with the marketing firm working with Pepsi. I was so on-board [with their ideas]. This site was something that was so needed, not just as a site for women, but as a site for the African-American community specifically. The only concern about doing something when it is connected to such a popular brand is that you don’t want to hit the audience over the head and that’s why I liked the approach. The site is interconnected to Facebook-connect, so real interaction is there. The site is beautifully designed, very informative and it gives women a way to contribute to communities by volunteering or donating, or just sharing stories about what inspires them the most. It’s just a great thing.
With all of the jobs that you manage, do you find you like the path your career has taken?
Only until recently have I felt in control. The first couple of years I struggled to make ends meet and now I’m definitely more comfortable. One thing about the freedom is that when you work a 9-5 there are things that you can never take part in. I can now go to conferences and presentations, I can do things like that now because of my flexible schedule.
Where can we look for you next?
I’ll be attending and presenting at the Blogging While Brown conference in Washington, D.C. June 18-19. My presentation topic is The Business of Blogging.