The Black Digerati

Contrary to popular belief, African Americans are masters and creators of the Information Age. Major players in the field tell us what the future holds. .

Whoever said silicon valley doesn’t have any soul obviously didn’t look in the right places. After just three days in the Valley, we unconvered a veritable gold mine of black movers and shakers in the information technology (IT) field–the “Black Digerati,” They are inventors, engineers, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, venture capitalists, consultants, lawyers, head hunters–you name it. In an industry seemingly dominated by white males, there are numerous African Americans making their presence felt.

And they aren’t just in the Valley. There are brothers and sisters all over the country who are masters and creators of the Digital Revolution. Not only have we identified the, we’ve gotten a select few of them to tell us–and you–what to expect from technology in the 21st century. Our only regret is that we couldn’t possibly fit them all in this issue. So we’re adding a new column to Techwatch later this year. “TechnoColor” will highlight African Americans in the IT field and give use the benefit of their insight into an industry that is changing our world.

Nearly everyone in our roundup cited the Internet as a main catalyst for business success in the next millennium. “Getting involved with the Net doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be successful, but if you don’t get involved, you definitely won’t be successful,” says Neil McGowan, a vice president at Silicon Graphics Inc. The Net can add value to nearly any business operation.

“Whether you’re a farmer or a receptionist, there’s a base level of understanding about technology that we must all get to in order to be successful in this society,” says Idichael Fields, president of The Fields Group, who is concerned that too many adult African Americans still harbor unfounded fears about computers and the Internet. As companies digitize their operations, there will be an increasing demand for workers with computer experience. According to the Information Technology Association of America, nearly 346,000 IT jobs–10% of all positions–are currently vacant. If ever there was a chance for career advancement–this is it.

No matter where you fit in society, technology will affect your life in more ways than one. Our Black Digerati are the advance guard. Take heed of their insight. Unlike the Industrial Revolution, if we miss out this time, it’ll be no one’s fault but our own. .

Marc Hannah, Ph.D. Vice President, Media Technology Omniverse Digital Solutions

“I hate computers,” states Marc Hannah, Ph.D., mimicking the sentiment of thousands of disgruntled computer users.

“It’s very frustrating to see how difficult it is for people to do simple tasks when things could be so much easier,” says the vice president of media production and technology at Omniverse Digital Solutions, a Petersburg, Virginia-based media technology development firm. While PCs are becoming more user-friendly, they’re not moving nearly fast enough for Hannah.

Hannah is a co-founder of Silicon Graphics Inc., a leading supplier of high-end graphics workstations and servers based in Mountain View, California. The $3.7 billion company is best known for producing the computers used to create the special effects for movies like Jurassic Park

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