The Great Technological Divide

The other day I had dinner with an antitrust lawyer and can’t stop thinking about our conversation. The discussions were intense – in a good way. We have opposite backgrounds but similar expertise. He addressed technology representing the law. I have close to zero knowledge of patent or antitrust law but understand technology inside out.  We argued about the technological divide between the public, the state and corporations. We agreed on the same conclusion: why aren’t leaders in the respective industries, working closer together to close the gap?

It seems the general public lacks a fundamental understanding of technology (and that is ok) but what can we do to change that? Once I started paying attention, I noticed the conversations are out there.

– MG Siegler talks about misunderstandings from a content stand-point and how journalists/bloggers aren’t doing their jobs to properly inform the public.
– Michael Arrington talks about it from a start-up point’s point of view.
– The VCs and Angels are ranting about it from an economic stand-point. (the ongoing tech bubble 2.0 debate; most recent piece by a VC.)
– And the general public turn to their trusted networks for questions i.e. “You work with computers, what is this fuss about Facebook privacy I read on The Wall Street Journal?” or “Why does your face show up on top when I Google something?”

All of these problems have the same baseline issue: lack of education.

So what do we do?

Well I think it’s up to companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple to get together to figure out how to fix this. Yes they may be competitors but they have the brainpower, resources, network and reach to take the first step towards improved public education. Just like how we are informed about drugs (D.A.R.E.), disease (World AIDS Day, breast cancer awareness campaigns, etc.) and homosexuality.

After all regardless of profession, everyone is first and foremost a human. And with education, comes greater understanding…at least in my ideal world. ;)