Interview about Black Culture Applied to Technology

I did a interview off the back of the Afrofutures talk I did in Manchester last year. Its part of a group of interviews on How We Get To Next. Its a good interview and thanks to Florence Okoye for the great questions which leads into my thoughts on black culture, diversity and growing up in a ever-changing world.

Ian @ BarcampLondon5 - Day 1

I was invited to do a interview off the back of the Afrofutures talk I did in Manchester last year. Its part of a group of interviews on How We Get To NextIts a good interview and thanks to Florence Okoye for the great questions which leads into my thoughts on black culture, diversity and growing up in a ever-changing world.

Here’s some interesting parts, although I have to say the whole thing is good and worth reading in full.

A little background on what made me the person I am today.

I kind of knew I was different from other people at an early age. Yes, there was the challenge of being one of three black people in a junior school, but I also found out I might be dyslexic. Friends could tell you I didn’t quite fit in — though I wasn’t a misfit. I was popular, kind of sporty, but also geeky and fiercely independent in thought. This meant I tended to find my own way of doing things, and therefore my independence was tied to use of technology. It was only later at university that I learned once and for all that I was dyslexic, and my coping strategies existed around technology.

Remembering the first time I created a webpage for my graphic design course and the conflict I faced. I feel this is similar to the perceptive media idea; its a new medium and we should/could treat it as such.

There was a key moment I will never forget when learning about the web and creating HTML pages. I did one of my design projects as a website and my college lecturer asked me to print it out. I tried to explain and pled with her that this was a different medium and printing it out made no sense. I think it was that moment when I started to side more with the tech.

The effect of dance music/culture on my life, and the start of my distaste and distrust of popular culture… If I was answering this again, I would add something about being you’re self, not what others want you to be. This certainly speaks to my inner fire for independance.

I hate popular culture. It winds me up [to] no end! I was a geek but never got into fantasy or really into science fiction. I found it too stereotypical and formulaic for me to take seriously.

I also was massively influenced by dance/rave music, which was a very different culture. I remember hating mainstream radio for not playing rave music. The mainstream press was vilifying ravers and this new culture.

They say house music is a feeling, but it’s a whole culture which didn’t get its dues till far later, and even now it’s been watered down and packaged up into something boring and generic

A little but on how I see [I don’t see as such but my mind connects them] the world as one hyper-connected system full of interesting emergent structures and challenges. It hard for others to imagine but I’m imagining its similar to the way synesthesia feels for people who have it. Its just the reality, and it only people telling you again that you are wrong, which makes you dobht.

I see everything as connected. It’s just the way my mind thinks, being dyslexic. I see technologies which are not ready for the mainstream, technologies which break rules and change the centralized power structures. They are ignored or rejected till they get too big and the incumbents have to face up to them or outlaw them, as it breaks their fragile business models.

This is classic innovator’s dilemma stuff, to be honest.

What excites me… open collaboration with open minded people, as too much effort is wasted settling peoples egos.

There are lots of interesting trends in store for the future. I don’t like to dream about [them]; instead, I follow the Alan Kay quote, “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Instead of inventing it, which makes people imagine people in basements doing funny things alone, I would change the last part to collaborate.

Now if only I could adapt this into my Linkedin profile…

Author: cubicgarden

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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