Thirty years ago, we referred to a program as a television show; a window was something you looked out of; a memory was something you cherished; a hard drive was a long road trip; an application was for employment; a web was a spider’s home; and a virus was the flu. Now these words have taken on new meanings, keeping pace with the rapid evolution of technology.
We have seen society shift from an Industrial Age, an age of motors and the assembly line, to an Information Age, an age of computer networks, to a Digital Age, an age of Internet and wireless access.
During its 30-year-history, black enterprise has told the stories of black Silicon Valley pioneers such as John W. Thompson, chairman, president and CEO of software giant Symantec Corp. We have reported on the accomplishments of today’s black digerati, among them Dwayne M. Walker, CEO of ShopNow.com, a publicly traded Internet company.
Despite their vast contributions to past and present technology, issues and challenges still face African American executives and entrepreneurs. They must create and use technology to improve education, economics, and employment within their families and communities.
Indeed, the revolution will not be televised because it’s happening online. And the weapon that is going to help liberate African Americans in this digital economy is information technology. Information is fast becoming the world’s most precious resource.
It’s perfectly clear, however, there is a huge gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” when it comes to equal access to information and the tools of technology — be it computers in the home, Internet connectivity, or wireless devices — which can be applied to better one’s quality of life.
That’s not to say that there aren’t a number of African Americans who have fully embraced technology for personal and business use. In fact, those who do have access to the Internet are going online at a rate twice that of the general population. African Americans are expected to purchase more computers than other groups over the next couple of years.
As African Americans play catch-up with the rest of the nation, they can’t afford to miss a step. The following five strategies will enable you to survive and thrive in the new millennium and ready yourself for the next technological age.
UNDERSTAND AND embrace new technologY. Our world changes so quickly, it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with new technological developments and to understand their implications. Already futurists are talking about an electronic wallet — a smart card that replaces your money, keys, driver’s license, medical records, and other necessities. By the year 2006 hybrid-powered cars that run on electricity and natural gas will be commercially available. Just around the corner are smart homes that will make the typical family resemble the Jetsons, not the Jeffersons. An automated home will free up your time.
You will be able to capitalize on the forces and trends shaping the world of tomorrow, but only if you have the right information and technological tools. The real hook up is being