Brigitte Daniel’s Got a Plan to Get Young Women of Color Into Technology

Photo | Twitter

Brigitte Daniel |  photo via  Twitter

Like the Trayvon Martin story before it, what happened in Ferguson two weeks ago has had a continued news presence in part because of social media. In the moments that followed the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Mike Brown, users took to Twitter to report on and discuss what happened. They have started and maintained a nationwide online conversation.

Much has been written about the democratizing power of Twitter and the influential power of so-called Black Twitter; according to a Pew study, 22 percent of African Americans who are online are on Twitter despite representing a dismal 2 percent of its workforce, as indicated by a diversity report released by Twitter last month.

This imbalance does not go unnoticed by those in the field.

“If we are the highest consumers [of these technologies], why aren’t we creating them?” asks Brigitte Daniel, executive vice president of Fort Washington-based Wilco Electronic Systems, Inc., a minority-owned, family-based cable operator serving the greater Philadelphia area for over 30 years.

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10 Ferguson Twitter Accounts You Need to Follow

People protest Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. As night fell Sunday in Ferguson, another peaceful protest quickly deteriorated after marchers pushed toward one end of a street. Police attempted to push them back by firing tear gas and shouting over a bullhorn that the protest was no longer peaceful.

People protest Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. As night fell Sunday in Ferguson, another peaceful protest quickly deteriorated after marchers pushed toward one end of a street. Police attempted to push them back by firing tear gas and shouting over a bullhorn that the protest was no longer peaceful.

Since the death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown last Saturday, residents of Ferguson, Missouri, have taken to the streets to protest. Long before major media were on the ground, Twitter provided to-the-minute updates of events, and continues to be the most reliable reporting resource. Below is a list of 10 individuals you should follow on Twitter if you want to know what’s really happening on the streets of Ferguson, because the likes of CNN can’t be trusted to even report what’s happening outside of its own doors:

1. Antonio French (@AntonioFrench), St. Louis Alderman of the 21st Ward.

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Ice Bucket Challenge: Stupidest Idea Ever

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I wish I could have been in the room when someone came up with the utterly stupid idea for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, wherein you dump a bucket of ice water on yourself (recording it for YouTube, of course) and challenge six others to do the same, or you donate $100 to the ALS Association, which combats Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Read more »

10 Commenter Tropes That Should Get You Banned From the Internet

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If it were up to me, we’d just call it a failed experiment, like New Coke or Lindsay Lohan’s music career. We tried it. It went off the rails. And now we’re done.

But alas, with every day that passes, the comment sections of news websites persist. The argument in their defense is that they increase engagement and give readers an opportunity to have their voices be heard. Not for nothing, they also keep people coming back to the website, which is great for pageviews and thus, great for advertising which the journalism industry desperately needs to survive as the economics of the news business evolve.

So what’s the problem?

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#YesAllWomen Is the Equivalent of Having a Peace Sign Bumper Sticker

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Shutterstock.com

On Friday, Elliot Rodger murdered six people in Santa Barbara. We know — from documents and videos — that Rodger, who took his own life, was motivated by misogyny. He made it very clear: These people were injured and killed because women didn’t want to have sex with him.

In the coming days and weeks, we’ll no doubt learn more about Rodger’s mental health, but less than 24 hours after the murders, the world had already learned that Rodger’s motivations are not all that unique. On Saturday,#YesAllWomena hashtag started by two friends, spread through cyberspace like wildfire. Women from all over the world shared personal stories of sexual abuse, street harassment and everyday examples of gender-based hatred.

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The Instagram Account You Need to Follow Now: Fashion’s Coolest Dog

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Fashion hound!

Today’s hilariously fun fashion tip: Follow this Instagram account right now. Go on, don’t ask questions. Just do it.

Done? Okay, here’s the backstory: Willie is a Jack Russell terrier dreamed up by Alex Stadler, the quirky artist/author/designer and owner of Sansom Street shop stadler-Kahn. Willie’s closet could rival even the most fabulous of fashionistas—she pumps iron in Galliano, she jogs in Manolos, she adopts kittens in Tsumori Chisato. Alex’s sketches (which you might remember from the walls of Joan Shepp some years back) are some of my favorite things ever; I’m desperate for him to start making Willie note cards, framed prints, playing cards, t-shirts and bags. (Note: Canvas bags featuring Willie sketches are coming to stadler-Kahn soon!) For now, though, you’ll have to whet your Willie appetite with her new (and downright fabulous) social media presence: Willie’s got her own Instagram, @whatwilliewore. Click here for some of my favorite posts so far. Enjoy!

Click here! It’s so worth it.

Keith Olbermann Won’t Stop Trolling Flyers Fans

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To be clear, Keith Olbermann fired first.

No, he wasn’t fired (although who would be surprised) — he took a shot at Philadelphia Flyers fans by calling them illiterate.

One day later he was back at it on Twitter, taking another cheap shot at us after we shared the story:

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Twitter Could Kill Your Relationship, Study Says

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I’ve often marveled at how tone-deaf my friends’ tweets can seem—something about the limitations of those 140 characters, perhaps? Too much striving to be witty in too small a space? So I really can’t say I was surprised at a new study indicating that those who can’t start or end the day without checking their Twitter feeds could find themselves with a lot more free time in which to do so. According to the study’s author, the more active you are on Twitter, the more likely your relationship will blow up.

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My Crowdsourced Life

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Illustration by Joe Reinfurt

It was, you have to admit, a pretty smart publicity grab.

Back in January, Mark Zuckerberg snapped a picture, posted it online, and posed a question to his readers: What kind of spider is this, and is it okay to let it keep living in my shower?

The Facebook founder wasn’t posting on his own site; he was on Jelly, a hip new app from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone that lets users upload photos so their social media contacts can answer questions about them. Nine minutes later, Zuckerberg got his answer from Kevin Thau, Jelly’s COO: I think it’s a Phidippus johnsoni. Probably want to relocate it out of the house. As backup, Thau included a Wiki link about Phidippus johnsoni — a terrifying jumping spider with a nasty bite. Not long after, Stone completed the loop with a tweet: “First life saved via Jelly!”

Welcome to research in the age of social media. Jelly’s raison d’être may be crowdsourcing, but you don’t have to download the app to tap into the collective brainpower of the masses — not if you have any other sort of social media account. At 31, I’m at the stage of life where I use my Facebook account mostly for birthday reminders and cat videos (fine, and maybe to find out if that cute woman I met has a boyfriend) — but I think I’m increasingly alone. So many of my friends in Philly use social media to outsource their problems that my various newsfeeds have more pleas for help than an episode of Dr. Phil.

My car horn stopped working — will it be expensive to fix? Does someone have a copy of Photoshop I can have? I want to start running. What’s the best couch-to-5K app? I don’t know what to wear tonight! (On that last one, the “help me” is clearly implied.)

A journalist friend of mine turns to her “friends” on Facebook regularly for stories she’s working on. “I don’t only learn about my topic,” she says, “but I figure out what people are interested in hearing about. It helps me shape my stories, too.” Another pal cops to crowdsourcing everything from mechanics to cold remedies, out of what he readily admits is sheer sloth.

The lazy friend has a point: Any reasonably connected human being can simply ask and then receive — and receive immediately, with zero effort. Crowdsourcing is about efficiency, really — about putting social media to work for you. But while the answers you get from that network of 500 of your nearest and dearest are fast and easy (and also probably better than the ones that come from the unwashed Internet masses on, say, Yahoo! Answers), that doesn’t mean the collective brainpower of the crowd is always right. Is it your transmission making that noise? Was that a Phidippus johnsoni? Does having so many answers at our fingertips actually make life easier and better? Or just … noisier?

I decide to find out — to spend a week crowdsourcing my decision-making, letting “friends” on Facebook and my Twitter followers guide my path.

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