blacks in technology, why do we od?

November 22, 2010

The history of African culture is based on storytelling. So, is it any wonder that we’ve taken to our personal mobile devices like no other demographic has? African-Americans talk and use the mobile web more than any other demographic. (Need proof, according to Nielsen, African-Americans use the most voice minutes – on average more than 1,300 a month). We’ve all seen that sister on the train who is talking just a little too loud and by the time you get off the train you know all her business.

Blacks in technology, why do we OD?
Words Sian Amoy

So, why have Blacks taken to these devices as quickly as we have and how is that going to affect us in the future? A few years ago, the government performed a study which revealed what was coined the ‘digital divide’. The concern was that Black families often didn’t have a computer and if there was a computer in the home, there was no high speed internet access. This led researchers to worry that African-Americans would be left behind as the rest of the world moved on and embraced the digital revolution.

Think back to 10 years ago. Some of us had a cellphone but most of us didn’t and probably thought pagers were the hottest things to have. Now, think about how big a role the device played in your daily life. Fast forward to today. Your cellphone today is a vital part of your life. And if you’re anything like me, leaving home without it is not an option. We text, we e-mail, we talk, we surf….all from this tiny device we carry around.

Cellphones and mobile devices are more affordable than desktops and laptops so they have a higher adoption rate than other devices do in our communities. Families without a computer and internet connection often have multiple cellphones. The cellphone has become ubiquitous in our communities and an integral part of our culture. It has seeped its way into rock and hip-hop lyrics and has changed the way that we interact with each other.

So, you might ask, do we really need computers? Some might argue that we do not. I am convinced that computers as we know them will begin to evolve. Physically, they will become smaller and with advancement in technology like location-based GPS technology, and ‘intelligent software’ they are becoming more personal. Content providers and marketers are able to tailor their messages to consumers based on their individual choices. This makes marketing more effective. And who are some of the biggest ‘consumers’ on the planet? Bingo! African-Americans.

So, how can we harness the power of this new technology with our cultures transparent need for communicating with each other? Is all this overuse of technology really necessary for us?