Hey. I am Kamau High and I am your new technology columnist. Think of me as your grandson who is good with computers that you secretly think plays too many video games.
While it is true that I love video games, I also love, and fear, technology. Technology can be great. I have 500 pictures of my family on the same device that lets me read newspapers from around the world and watch select cable channels. That same device can also access some of the vilest gatherings of racists, beheading videos by fanatics, and fights in the ‘hood. All of these things are out there whether you are clicking on them or not.
For example, the Southern Poverty Law Center recently published a report called Black Hole [http://www.splcenter.org/Black-Hole]. In it, the Center details how Reddit, one of the most popular sites on the internet, hosts an ugly collection of racists sections alongside non-racists sections. Advance Publications, that also publishes The New Yorker and Vanity Fair owns Reddit. People form different communities, known as sub-reddits, based on shared interests and it is possible to use the site without ever being aware of the hate groups. But the hate groups are becoming more popular and the site gives them wide leeway to operate. What does it mean when a site can host vile racists and communities wholly opposed to them?
Technology is so omnipresent that sometimes it is hard to remember things weren’t always this way. My 7-year-old daughter laughs when I try to explain to her what life was like before the Internet, cell phones, and ubiquitous GPS. Her laugh gives me the same feeling I imagine my late grandmother had when she would tell me about the days when bread was a nickel, telegraphs were a common form of communication, and party lines were a thing.
What I hope to cover in the coming weeks and months are the ways technology is, and is not, changing us, and I’d like your help. Is there an app you cannot live without? A new device that makes you wonder how people managed to live their lives before it was invented? Heard about some new gizmo that will revolutionize how humans live? Send them to me at email@example.com. I will look and see what’s the what with it. I cannot promise I will write about everything you send in but I will take each suggestion seriously. Some of the things already on my radar include: virtual reality, tele-medicine, smart boards in schools, wearable computers, and controlling your home heating, lighting, music and lighting with an app.
I would also like this to be place to talk trends not only in the industry but also in how people actually use technology, even if it is in ways the maker did not originally intend such as burner phones for nefarious activities and bullying people via social media.
What I do not want this column to be is a list of the five best apps or 10 web sites you should see before you die. The world has enough of those. (Although, have you ever used the Pulse app? It is great. I can read 40-50 publications in about half an hour with it.) What the world does not have is a place to talk about the changes technology is causing, for both good and bad, in a fun and interesting way. Let us try to change that. Together.
Kamau High is a journalist living in Baltimore. He has written for publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Billboard and The Baltimore Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.