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. .

solution. “African American businesses need to find ways, through the use of technology, to partner with other firms in the same way general businesses have upsized through mergers,” says Fields. His previous venture, Pleasanton, California-based OpenVision, went public in 1996 and eventually merged with Veritas Software, a similar storage management software company targeted to a different customer base.

Although he left the merged company–with nearly $10 million in stock options–his passion for entrepreneurship has not waned. Under the auspices of The Fields Group, he channels much of his energy into helping other black-owned software companies develop their businesses and raise capital. “This is an opportunity for great success if we take advantage of the complementary goods and services of African American businesses, but if we don’t, [failure] will have absolutely nothing to do with the color of our skin,” he says. “It will have to do specifically with how well we accept the benefits and opportunities of technology.” .

Sandra Johnson Baylor, Ph.D. Research Staff Member, Thomas J. Watson Research Center, IBM

“Deep Blue Wins” read the headlines after IBM’s supercomputer pounded world chess champion Garry Kasparov into submission last May. However, the real credit for the momentous victory should have gone to IBM research staff member Sandra Johnson Baylor and her colleagues in Hawthorne, New York. She was part of the design team that developed the prototype for the IBM Scalable Parallel Processor, the base machine for Deep Blue.

In her latest move, Baylor is helping to foster the growth of network computing, a technology that allows companies to manage computing resources from a central server while employees use a “thin client,” which is basically a keyboard and a monitor. “We’re trying to overcome the costly upgrade and maintenance needs of the traditional computing environment,” says Baylor, 37, who believes network computing will soon make its way into the household.

“In the next 10 years, I foresee several interconnected computing devices in the home all communicating with each other through an intranet,” she predicts. “Even your car may be connected so that you’ll be able to turn up the heat in your house when you’re on the way home.” However, to take advantage of these new developments, we must get over our fear, frustration and ignorance about computers. The first step, says Baylor, is to get acquainted with the Internet.

“Once people realize that the Internet is secure, Internet banking and shopping will become more prevalent and [the Internet] will become the dominant means of business exchange,” she says. The Net, with its vast amounts of information, also has major implications for education. “The Internet is no respector of persons or geography,” asserts Baylor, whose continuing research will help create opportunities for disparate companies and citizens to easily participate in the global marketplace of ideas.

Bruce Bond President/CEO ANS Communications

Bruce Bond can see into the future. “We’re moving into a network-centric economy that will cause business owners to reexamine many of the concepts and assumptions about how you run a business,” predicts Bond, president and

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