Yesterday I met with my old friend Phyllis for lunch. We met at Florida State and would meet at 5:30 in the mornings a couple times a week to play racquetball. I think in 21 years I’ve only won two games against her. In addition to friendship, as business people and lawyers, it’s also good to trade information and knowledge that may benefit both of us or someone we may know who is in need of help.
Yesterday’s lunch also helped me to put this article in to some better context. Mashable.com’s Samantha Murphy Kelly wrote an article recently about who she describes as the world’s most connected man. The subject of the article, Chris Dancy, reportedly has from 300 to 700 systems running at any given time, systems that constantly provide him with real time data. The data gives him feedback on how well he’s sleeping, his fitness levels, etc. According to Mr. Dancy, ”I’m much more aware of how I respond to life and take steps to adjust to my environment. I’ve also formed better habits thanks to the feedback I’m getting.”
Wireless devices, mobile-ready websites, and consumer demand for data combine to create a bundle of personal information that either we use, as Mr. Dancy does, to determine where we are at and how well we are doing in order to get there. We are creating and connecting to our digital mirrors, mirrors, ironically, that reflect a lot about ourselves to other people which raises privacy concerns. I wonder, however, if we are using wireless broadband to meaningfully connect with others who may be able to share knowledge and information leading to economic opportunities?
Networking maybe an overused word. I prefer connections, but focus on the concept is more important. For minorities entering the labor market, skills may not be enough as Nancy DiTomaso pointed out in May 2013 in a piece for The New York Times. Inclusion versus exclusion may be the problem for blacks and other minorities seeking higher-wage opportunities. People tend to share information about jobs with their family and friends so if you are shut out of a network based on skin color the search for work becomes harder.
Is broadband a panacea, a quick fix? No, it is not, but it provides access to other platforms that provide alternatives to the human social networks that minorities are shut out off. Broadband access is also fundamental to creating independent social networks through which minorities can share information on job and entrepreneurial opportunities.
It’s time to divert that feedback loop of information we have on ourselves and use broadband to share it with the right people and develop strong connections.