Tag Archives: WhatsApp

Want to increase diversity in tech? Make it cool. TechCool.org

Ethnicity in tech US

There’s been much ado about the diversity gap in tech.

The big dogs, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter, EBay and Apple, have all released data, showing how much of their respective work force is made up of minorities and women.

Needless to say, the stats aren’t encouraging.

For the most part, tech is a white male dominated field.

Depending upon where you look, there’s anywhere from a 70/30 to 90/10 male to female ratio in tech.

From an ethnic perspective, the stats are far more sobering.

Generally, tech in the US is 58% white, 34% Asian, 2% Hispanic/Latino, and 2% Black (and 2% “other”).

The diversity gap stems from the fact that hiring in tech companies isn’t proportional to population.

While Blacks make up approximately 13% of the US population, they represent only about 2 to 3% of the technology workforce.

The disparity is palpable, especially when you think about the billion dollar valuations of tech companies like WhatsApp, Instagram and Tumblr, and how few people of color are up in the cut.

As a self-professed Black techie, I see this disparity every day.

In the majority of the tech circles I’m in, there are very few Black/brown faces.

We need more color in tech.

But how do we get there?

It’s one thing to know what the problem is.

It’s quite another to solve it.

Tech firms have begun recruiting at HBCUs and asking colleges and universities to recommend qualified Black students at job fairs.

But in my opinion, we’ve got to start earlier.

Obviously, exposing our youth to technology and fostering a love of math and the sciences is key.

Growing up, my father encouraged me to be an engineer.

I can still hear him in his thick Nigerian accent saying, “Chibuzor, you are going to be a engineer.”

That was his thing.

His first son was going to be an engineer, by hook or by crook.

Despite his aspirations for me, I simply wasn’t interested in joining the geek squad.

I fought him tooth and nail and I got an economics degree instead.

Today, I’m scraping together a meager existence and engineering jobs remain unfilled – or filled by white and asian men.

I could kick myself.

Who knew that Uneze had such foresight?

Why did I resist so vehemently?

Was his delivery so suspect that I gave it little to no weight?

Or was I just not checking for an industry I found to be so square?

Tech simply didn’t do it for me.

Looking back, it makes me wonder how many Black parents wanted their children to go into math and the sciences, but couldn’t instill any excitement in them to take it up?

All the Neil deGrasse Tysons of the world, much like Uneze before him, aren’t turning urban kids on to science.

My first proper experience with tech was cool.

I helped launch a Harlem-based start-up called DigiWaxx.

DigiWaxx was an online digital music promotions company that created a digital platform which made sending physical copies of records to DJs obsolete.

While it was primarily music and artist promotion, we pioneered what became the standard in digital distribution of promotional content.

The technology we employed was very rudimentary (at the time), but it was still tech.

And it gave me a glimpse into the myriad of non-traditional opportunities that existed in tech.

It also exposed me to the some really progressive folks on the leading edge of technology – most of whom were Black.

Folks like Russell Simmons and (360hiphop.com and Global Grind), had whole teams of Black techies, who simply did not fit the stereotype of tech.

Today, I’m steeped in technology helping brands to build mobile websites, mobile and tablet applications, and immersive interactive experiences.

I’m also spreading the message about how cool tech can be to Black and brown kids to help overcome the diversity gap.

How?

Well for one, I’ve started TechCool.org.

Well, I haven’t actually started it.

I just copped the URL yesterday when I was thinking about writing this blog.

And roped my man into creating a logo for me (soon come).

But that’s besides the point.

What tech lacks is the cool factor.

When most of us think tech, invariably we think nerd (sorry Neil).

We don’t think rockstar.

But tech is full of rock stars, and I’m focused on bridging the diversity gap by helping to put the cool into tech.

If you’re the parent of a young Black kid, you know they emulate the rock stars.

Well not rock stars literally, but cats in the public eye.

Roll out a phlanx of sports or media superstars, and your kids are wide-eyed, imitating their moves on the court, pantomiming their videos or reciting their lyrics.

We’ve got to elevate tech to rockstar status, to excite kids about the possibilities.

I’m starting an organization whose primary mission is to encourage young Black kids to take up technology by exposing them to the superstars in the space.

My plan is to partner with celebrities as a catalyst to spark interest in tech, and do it in a way that inspires them to explore tech professions in the future.

I did a pilot of this program a few years ago with the Police Athletic League of NYC, called the Digital University, where we gave youth first hand experience with audio and video production, web development and social media management and marketing.

We brought in DJs to teach them how to mix, VJs to show them video mixing, gave them cameras to shoot video, video editing software to create movies, and brought in a celebrity or two to keep them inspired.

The kids loved it and we opened their eyes to the numerous possibilities which existed for them to explore tech-based professions.

Although PAL ultimately opted to teach a cooking class instead of continuing to offer the program – because home ec is more important than tech..duh! – we were able to establish a proof of concept that the right program taught by the right people, with the right level of cool could connect with kids in a meaningful way.

That experience has inspired me to go all-in and form a not-for-profit singularly dedicated to rebranding the tech industry to make it more enticing to our youth.

So stay tuned for more updates as I bring TechCool.org to life.

It will probably start off with a blog, and then some speaking engagements, before I’ve got bonafide programming and a formal offering.

But I’m committed to giving tech a facelift and helping to close this divide.

Feel free to share your thoughts on my plan and hit me up if you’re interested in being a part of the TechCool movement!

 

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Filed under advocacy, digital advocacy, technology

Wanna be first at something cool? You better Brabble.


It’s not every day that you’re the first to do something.

That’s especially true in the tech space.

The minute you think you’ve got an original idea or stumbled onto the next big thing, someone drops it or says that they’ve already heard of it.

Got a great idea for a social media network?

Oops! Some kids at Harvard thought about that a minute ago.

And by the time you were up on it, you were far from a first mover.

You were on it – eventually.

And it probably took you a minute before you even were comfortable using it.

The same was probably true of Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and any of the myriad other social media trends that were once obscure platforms you never heard of, and are today the targets of billion dollar acquisitions – if not technology behemoths themselves.

And even though you may not have been there at the beginning, you probably fancy yourself “hip” when it comes to being able to spot and adopt social media trends.

Vine. WhatsApp. Snapchat.

You do that.

You may not have been first, but you were up on it by the time it became vogue.

And you were probably first among your friends or network for some things.

Shoot, I’d heard of Pinterest, but my wife actually put me on.

And now she can’t get off the damn thing.

But I digress.

Anywho, I’m about to put you up on the next ish.

What if you could have Facebook, Twitter, Instragram and Vine/Snapchat in one?

Where you could capture something in the moment.

Tag it up.

Decide who you wanted to share it with.

And post it in an instant.

See who’s posting.

Like.

Comment or respond to directly.

Share.

All from a mobile or web dash.

Well now you can.

It’s called Brabble.

And it’s barely a year old.

So you’re not exactly first first.

But you’re damn near close.

And it’s that next thing.

Trust me.

“What do you know Stephen? You couldn’t spot a trend if it walked up and bit you on the ass.”

Sure, my bum is a bit tough.

But I knows my nose knows.

What’s so great about Brabble?

It’s just another social media platform like Twitter.

Right?

Wrong!

It’s better, and I’ll tell you why.

For one, think of it as a dashboard.

Even though it IS a social media platform, what it DOES is give you the ability to manage multiple social media activities, within one place.

Sure, you can take a picture with your iPhone’s camera, and email, text or post it to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Instagram.

Yes. You can shoot a video and upload it to Facebook or YouTube, and share it.

But once you’re done, your plopped back into your camera or photo album.

If you start from inside an app, say Instagram, and shoot a picture or video you’re stuck where you are.

And the user interface and experience for most social media platforms leaves much to be desired.

Especially on your mobile device.

Buttons are too small.

Items located too close to the edge of the screen are virtually inaccessible.

At the end of the day, you’re simply scrolling through an endlessly loading stream of posts, or pictures.

But not with Brabble.

For one, you start off with a Flipboard-like grid of images.

My Feed

You can elect to view content in either a grid or basic view.

Grid or standard view.

Clicking any image immediately pulls you into the thread of that Brabble (their version of “conversation”)

Second, the UI is basic.

Your primary navigation is found at the bottom of the screen, titled (quite simply) Menu, My Feed, Explore, Notifications and a big “+” sign to add a post (Brabble) of your own.

Like, love, Brabbleback.

Third, “liking” (one heart press/click) or “loving” (two heart presses/clicks), something, responding to or commenting on a Brabble (“Brabbleback”), is as simple as clicking on an icon and typing.

Finally, Brabbling (posting) is also super basic.

Brabbling. I think I just made up a term – must be sure to trademark that.

Hitting the big “+” sign opens up an overlay, with a large dialogue window to enter text, radio buttons you can select if you want to post to Facebook and Twitter, and icons above your dialogue box which lets you select which type of media you want to share with your post (or not).

A simple drop down next to the “Post to..” button lets you select whether to share your content with the World, your Followers, your Friends or Privately.

Brabble overlay

You can even save your posts to your Feed to send later.

This is not to say that there’s no room for improvement.

If I were going to make any changes to Brabble, they’d be few (and I could live without them).

But if I were, I’d make a persistent footer.

Generally, whenever you’re on the app, the footer is present.

Mine too deep into any individual piece of content, though, the footer goes away.

And you lose your bottom navigation.

If you go back, it returns, but there should be a persistent way to get back to “start” without having to repeatedly hit the “back” button.

It looks like the deeper you go into the app, there’s a transition from native to mobile web pages (which may account for the loss of your footer).

I could go deeper, but you get the picture.

Brabble is a cool app, which seamlessly aggregates all the things you like to do with your mobile device, into one app.

It’s not perfect, but it’s enough to make me take the leap.

And recommend it to all of you (my 42 readers).

I’ve been on the platform for three days now, and it’s pretty cool.

There isn’t a heck of a lot of traffic right now – and if you sign up, consider it part of an extended Beta.

Now go and Brabble, and be the first among your friends to be up on the latest and greatest tech trend.

And remember who told you about it when it tips….

 

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Why the acquisition of WhatsApp is bad news. Facebook is the devil.

Facebook acquires WhatsAppFacebook is the devil.

So I’d be wary of anything the devil does.

Clearly a company that started off in a college dorm and became a multi-billion dollar company in the span of ten years must be in league with the devil.

If not the devil himself.

How else would you explain Facebook’s meteoric rise to the top of the social media food chain?

Sure, they’ve got millions upon millions of users.

Sure, they extract a pound of flesh from advertisers to hawk their wares to Facebook’s captive audience.

Sure, their IPO netted them a gazillion dollars.

But damn!

Enough is enough!

If you’ve been paying attention, startups on Facebook’s roster are batting zero.

Case in point.

Let’s look at the giant’s appetite over the past decade, shall we?

  • Connect U – shut down
  • Friend.ly – shut down
  • Gowala – shut down
  • Lightbox.com – shut down
  • Face.com – defunct
  • Threadsy – shut down

Suffice it to say, not all acquired companies fare well under Facebook’s oppressive thumb.

And these are just the more public purchases that Facebook has made.

There are scores of others too obscure to mention, scattered across Facebook’s post-acquisition landscape.

Facebook claims that WhatsApp will continue to operate independently, but their track record doesn’t paint a convincing picture of post-acquisition bliss.

And while, Instagram, Branch and Friend Feed are still thriving on-going concerns, who can say when they will cease to please the devil and have their heads lopped off?

Facebook is a fickle beast, no?

I’m just saying.

I use WhatsApp.

I like WhatsApp.

Unlike most of Facebook’s crap, there are no distracting ads or mindless drivel mucking it up.

So you’ll forgive me if I think that Facebook’s acquisition to WhatsApp can’t possibly bode well for me and countless other WhatsApp users.

Sure, the creators of WhatsApp are making out like bandits, but who gives a fuck about them?

My misgivings are not without merit.

It’s happened before.

It can happen again.

I predict that Facebook is either going to scuttle WhatsApp completely or turn it into some ad-laden behemoth that I won’t want to fuck with.

With a track record like their’s, the devil Facebook is not to be trusted.

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Whatsapp? No seriously. WhatsApp.

20130205-163941.jpg

Yesterday, I got put up on something, that I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know about.

It’s a messaging app called WhatsApp.

What’s a WhatsApp, you ask?

Well, its a cross-platform mobile messaging app, which lets you send and receive text messages for free.

It’s available for iPhones, Androids, Windows, Blackberry and Nokia devices.

WhatsApp home page

According to their website, WhatsApp works on the same internet data plan that you currently use for your email and web browsing.

Unlike text messaging supplied by your carrier, which is subject to some per message rate or bundled with your call or data plan, WhatsApp messages don’t cost a thing.

You’ll never be charged for going over your allotted text message limits, because there are none.

The dude that put me on to WhatsApp was going on and on about how great it was.

You can send text messages to your contacts without having to remember their phone number.

You can text internationally.

You can send pictures and videos.

All things you can do right now without WhatsApp.

So what’s the big friggin deal?

Not to be completely ignorant, I downloaded WhatsApp so that he would stop bugging me.

Mind you, it’s not a free app.

It costs $.99.

I was willing to part with my money to shut him up.

Boom.

Got the app on my phone.

WhatsApp_downloaded

Now what?

WhatsApp_enter_phone_number_pageWait, can’t use it yet.

Need a verification code.

Plug in my cellphone number and wait.

A few seconds later, a text message with the code arrives.

Plug it in and then…

OMG!

Feigned excitement.

Up pops this dialogue box telling me that WhatsApp added all my friends who already use the app.

Whatchu talkin' bout WhatsApp?!

Whatchu talkin’ bout WhatsApp?!

Umm…why is this list like 200+ people?

Here I am holding myself out as the purveyor of all things tech.

And at least 200 people in my circle are up on some shit that I’m not!

A cursory glance through my ‘Favorites’ list tells me that it’s primarily my international peeps.

One of the selling points of the WhatsApp disciple was the fact that you could text internationally.

That makes sense.

If you’re constantly traveling or have family and friends in different countries, WhatsApp helps you keep in touch without breaking the bank.

Phew!

I feel considerably less inadequate.

International cats know how to save a buck, ya dig?

Playing with WhatsApp the past few days has me hooked.

Its got a bunch of interesting little features.

For example, each message you send is accompanied by a small green check mark.

Dude told me that a check mark meant that your message was delivered.

And a second check means that it’s been read.

Reading up on the WhatsApp FAQs page revealed the fallacy of his statement.

One check refers to the fact that your text has been delivered to their servers.

Two checks means that it’s been delivered to the phone of the person you’re chatting with.

But not necessarily that your message has been read.

Misinformation aside, the app does have its finer points.

WhatsApp lets you create group chats, customize your profile and status message, and save and/or email your chats sessions.

I can’t say that I’m a WhatsApp aficionado quite yet, but I’m getting comfortable.

With the exception of my boy who put me on, I haven’t really chatted with anyone else through the app though.

So I can’t say that it’s better than standard texting in any material sense.

But if you’re within the sound of my blog and you’ve got the app, I’d love to get your feedback.

Do you WhatsApp?

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