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Innovation Involves Inclusion — Traveling Geeks Meet Intel UK

by on Jul.08, 2009, under Storage

Innovation Involves Inclusion — Traveling Geeks Meet Intel UK

The Traveling Geeks have hit their stride in the UK, where they’ve been meeting with movers and shakers turning to technology innovation as a way for improving start up businesses, education and government agencies.

On Monday, they met with my colleagues Perveen Akhtar and Tristan Wilkinson, Intel’s Public Sector director working to help the UK government leap ahead with its plans to bring better broadband to residents across the country. Here Tristan talks with Intel Insider and Traveling Geek co-founder JD Lasica.

Intel exec on social media literacy from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD writes: Tristan said the term digital exclusion needs to be revisited because people are using technology in increasingly sophisticated ways, particularly around social media and social networks. The danger is that a large portion of the population will have less access to jobs, private records and digital databanks if they’re not just online-savvy but also conversant with social media.

The breakfast brought heated discussions about:

  • Twitter — is it really mainstream? Maybe more so in the US than the UK, but the Geeks argued that people on Twitter are more connected, so Tristan created his @IntelTristan account thanks to Perveen and encouragement from the Geeks (before calling it a night, Tristan Tweeted: reflecting on the day, deciding social networks can’t be ignored any longer)
  • the importance of technology across social classes and professions – to get jobs, stay informed
  • is there really a generation gap dividing how people embrace technology – the Geeks average age is about 40 and they’re on the forefront of using technology

Intel Insider and Traveling Geek Tom Foremski shared his take about the meeting with Perveen and Tristan:

Mr Wilkinson spoke about the importance of using technology to educate African children. He quoted statistics that show that an extra year of primary education among African children significantly improves the health of babies, and reduces AIDS infection rates. So yes, if we, the beneficiaries of the digital economy are able to improve the primary school education of African children then that is a good thing, and it is a moral obligation that we do so.

Fellow Traveling Geek Jeff Saperstein made a great point that removing trade restrictions between the European Community (EC) and African countries would do much more for the health and wealth of African children than using technology to improve education. Trade would lessen the need for aid. Trade is a sustainable form of development — charity is not.

Renee Blodget wrote a powerful account of the breakfast discussion:

Essentially you’ve got a 21st century learner in a 19th century environment and the two are starting to cancel each other out. And, what are the other things that allow these technology tools to be unleashed? We have to figure out a way to embrace and value informal learning, such as self-study.

…If success and nirvana is a digitally educated population, we shouldn’t have to wait twenty years for people to catch up to embrace these changes…with technology change accelerating at such a dramatic rate, there needs to be an effort to bring forward everyone who we can see being left behind.

Traveling Geek Robert Scoble talked about his notion of a “Friend Divide,” where people who have built strong online networks can more easily find opportunities and resources at their fingertips — they can ask their connections for almost anything they need.

Sky Schuyler encouraged educators to embrace new devices for students, which made me think of the nifty Intel Classmate PC designed for young students.

Tristan asserted that the problems are very fragmented and that there needs to be a more concerted effort to bring groups like us together to take action. To me, this is at the core of why the Traveling Geeks joined together to meet with people living in innovation centers of the world.

After the breakfast, Perveen and Tristan joined the Traveling Geeks at Reboot Britain, where Tristan live Tweeted a talk by given by Martha Lane-Fox, who along with Tristan is was recently appointed by the UK government to Digital Inclusion Ambassadors oversee a taskforce aimed at ensuring the UK is at the leading edge of the global digital economy.

My team sponsored the Traveling Geeks trip to the UK as part of the Intel Insider program, and we got the chance to do these things:

  • Breakfast with Intel to explore the state of Digital Inclusion (widespread broadband) and technology in education across the UK
  • Intel Capital investments in the UK
  • We loaned the Geeks seven Intel Atom MIDs to use test drive and document their travels
  • Provided a sweet Acer Netbook and tiny UMID computer as a giveaway at UK innovators meetup, which was won by a very excited and grateful Jon Garside


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