Black, urban, and wired

Young black men are hacking the internet.  Not the code itself, but the actual process.

Repeatedly, while taking the subway in NYC, I have overheard groups of young men talking about the truly interesting ways that they are paying attention to technology and they are almost always black.  Five stops on how to get the highest resolution of video uploaded to YouTube.  Three stops on how to unlock phones.  A stop on sites they hate.  Two stops on sites they love.

I know my way around a computer, but I’m famous for not actually using the consumer web all that much; no Pinterest, no communities – it is a miracle that I’m on Facebook more than one a month.  So to listen to how completely the web permeates these groups is amazing.

One of the groups I overheard this week was talking about how badly their school sucked at technology (their school, after some internet search, appears to be in Queens), and it occured to me that frankly, if their teachers bothered to ask them, these are precisely the youngsters I’d choose to implement tech in the classroom.  They wouldn’t use it to teach, but in using it and helping other kids use it, they certainly would be taught.

Some educators are excited about the idea of encouraging students to act as experts and to learn through teaching.  But that requires believing that kids have areas of expertise, and honestly, I’m not sure how many teachers are going to ask their urban, black kids if they can help them manage their tech.

But they should.  Because if the NYC subway is any kind of sample, scratch a young black man, find a potential engineer.  Pay attention.  These are the sort of users that, with molding, can become the people behind the next iteration of what tech is and does.