digital divide technology

Technology for All

While cities are admirable places for people to join resources, a lust for cities dims the view of the rest of the country. After all, real estate in cities is hyperinflated based on the supposition that there will be ample jobs and entertainment opportunities. Tech companies are notorious for wanting to only be in grand cities even though most of the brick-and-mortar facilities are located outside the very cities which offered tax breaks in favor of relocation. In truth, the real estate market will stabilize if people are aware that there are more types of communities, and the tech community could aid in that renaissance.

Tech entities are suffering from a sense of entitlement that is traditionally given to millennials. There are active claims that it takes almost no resources to start a software development company, but most of those companies are in places where there is no shortage of resources. Rather than locate in large cities, tech companies should consider smaller cities for at least two reasons. First of all, operation costs would considerably drop, meaning that those smaller communities would not be forced to indulge those businesses by compromising infrastructure. Secondly, if tech companies were located in smaller areas, they could and should demand the infrastructure that could end the digital divide.

For reasons that only they know, tech companies demand to be in places that have high entertainment qualities. Unfortunately, this means that the public are forced to cater to business owners who, often, provide very little incentive to the communities where they locate. Many companies transport their staff, and fail to deliver on the job opportunities promised, or offer low-salary, high-stress jobs to local workers while keeping the high-salary, upwardly-mobile positions for workers who are already employed with those entities. This means that property values increase, and there are more citizens displaced and who are unable to participate in the new amenities. Local governments should begin screening the jobs offered by the companies, and if the jobs being offered are low-paying, front-end positions, no tax incentives should be offered. Just like the people who already live there, tech companies should pay for the privilege of living in entertainment havens.

Finally, tech companies offer so little diversity that it confuses onlookers when STEM careers are offered as beacons of meritocracy. There are so few people of color in tech that despite bold declarations and high-dollar promises, most tech companies are still White and male. Unfortunately, because these companies are held up as beacons, so many startups and government entities emulate their behavior, making any city they locate become plagued with inequities. Wherever the next tech giant makes its home, displacement and segregation are sure to follow, as such has happened in all cities with large tech concentrations. If tech companies would locate in all types of communities, exposure might enhance the prospects of people of color, so perhaps tech entities should seek distressed areas instead of utopias.

No one would suggest that society does not need technology, because such is impossible with such a large global population. Everyone is suggesting that the behavior of tech companies change so that the rest of society can enjoy the benefits of technology, not just the oligarchical few.

techforall-01

 

One comment

  1. I think that it’s possible to extend the argument even further; the emergence of STEM careers has been very exclusionary, but it’s only a microcosm of all the exclusion that goes on in other parts of society. You seem to offer a compelling solution.

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