Tech Group, Twitter Founder Launch Effort to Bridge Digital Gaps

Tech Group, Twitter Founder Launch Effort to Bridge Digital Gaps

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This past Wednesday, a virtual who’s who among the brightest and most engaged thinkers, policy makers, attorneys, researchers, developers, marketers and brand creators in the digital marketplace gathered at the Ronald Reagan building to witness the official launch of ConvergeUS.  The project is the brainchild of a partnership between TechNet’s Rey Ramsey, formerly of the One Economy Corporation, and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.  Both were on hand to formally introduce the new venture which is the nonprofit arm of TechNet, a bipartisan, political network  made up of high-tech’s leading CEOs to work on policy impact the area.

According to Ramsey, ConvergeUS will engage select nonprofits on an ongoing basis to develop solutions for improving the education system, getting more children interested in STEM fields, and bridging the technology gaps between poorer communities and those with Internet access and resources.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski dropped by to deliver brief remarks and express his excitement about the venture.  He got the most laughs when referencing Twitter, which he said has a “bias against people with long names.”

Following the Chairman’s speech, Andrew McLaughlin, the former White House deputy Chief Technology Officer and Head of Global Public Policy and Government Affairs for Google Inc., moderated a panel of experts starting off his job by acknowledging that the “policy nerds, lawyer nerds, tech nerds…” in the room and of the world get all the benefits of digital connectivity, but those benefits are not bestowed on all people. “The future is already here. It’s just not equally distributed yet,” McLaughlin said.

During a panel presentation, former Detroit Lions rookie Leland Melvin stood out with his awe-inspiring story of his past as a football player who turned a career ending injury into an opportunity to go back to school, earn a master’s degree in engineering and science, and eventually work for NASA as an astronaut.  Melvin shared that, as a kid, he used to burn up stuff all over the house with the chemistry kit his mother got him, but that his dad loved football and got him into the sport early. He talked about a duality, “You don’t have to want to be a rapper or athlete to succeed. There are other ways to do that,” Leland said.

The panelists responded to questions submitted in-person and over the internet using the hashtag #converge.

Muhammed Chaundrey, President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Foundation was also on hand to share his insights about working with children and encouraging their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In response to an online question about getting parents involved, Chaundrey remarked, “You don’t have to be an engineer to raise an engineer.”  He pointed out the options in mobile applications that parents that do not have a home computer and broadband access have to encourage their children’s interest in science.”

Biz Stone, a former Google executive, spoke about his need to innovate in high school when he founded a lacrosse team on campus.  His motivation? He had a desire to play sports, but did not know much about any of the sports the school offered.  By founding the team, Stone explained, he was able to be one of its stars. “That is an example of creating an opportunity and not waiting for one to become available,” Stone shared.  Stone used the lacrosse example to underscore the ways that technology can be used to innovate and create new opportunities.

Following the panel, the crowd took part in a post talk reception.

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Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt represents small, women, and minority owned business and technology companies at The Ghatt Law Group LLC, the nations’ first communications law firm owned by women and minorities. She's won landmark cases on behalf of her clients which include national civil rights and public interest organizations. In addition to actively authoring several blogs, being a radio show host and sitting on the boards of three non-profits, she is a tech junkie who has been developing online web content since the very early years of the Internet, 1991 to be precise! Follow her on Twitter at @Jenebaspeaks, on her blog, Jenebaspeaks, which covers the intersection of politics and technology or on her Politics of Raising Children blog at The Washington Times Communities section. The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and have complete editorial independence from any Politic365 partners, sponsors, or advertisers. For additional information about Politic365, please visit http://politic365.com/about/.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Bravo! This sounds like a great initiative. It is encouraging to see tech leaders come together around issues of such fundamental importance to the U.S. Let's hope this group inspires others to focus on these issues so we can close the digital divide once and for all.

  2. I think ConvergeUS is exactly what America needs to help close the digital divide once and for all. It's been a long road trying to convince technology stakeholders to include social justice as part of their plan, but this is a bright light pointing over a dim situation that will hopefully aid in huge advancements re: equality.

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