It's the people, not the gear.
When I declared "technology is anthropology" as the guiding principle of HuffPostTech -- how technology in general, and the Internet in particular, is changing the way we live our lives, from politics and education to entertainment -- this is what I meant: Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, one of the chief architects of the Obama campaign's Internet strategy, exploring the future of the online-powered grassroots movement that propelled the junior senator from Chicago to the White House. In an exclusive blog for HuffPostTech, Hughes writes that while the movement behind BarackObama.com -- now called Organizing for America and housed at the Democratic National Committee -- is "alive and well," there's more to be desired in the leadership that continues to run it.
Technology is anthropology means Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, explaining the new editing rules of the world's largest information bazaar, a do-it-yourself encyclopedia built for our networked age. At a time in which more people visit Wikipedia than most major news organizations, it's rather ironic how poorly the mainstream media understands and reports on how the site works. It means John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, one of the hotbeds of innovation in the world, boldly predicting that "art and design will rise in importance during this century as we try to make sense of all the possibilities that digital technology now affords." Design, he writes, humanizes technology. And it means Dr. Barbara Kurshan, head of the pioneering Curriki.org -- think "wiki" plus "curriculum" and you've got the gist of it -- emphasizing the value of teachers and educators collaborating on curriculum in these tweeting, Facebooking, YouTubing times. Curriki, as it happens, is the brainchild of Scott McNealy, chairman and co-founder of Sun Microsystems. "As technology spreads across the globe through low-cost laptops and even cell phones," Kurshan writes, "open content has the potential to bridge the education divide between those with and without access to high quality instructional materials."
Again, the focus is on the people, not the gear. Because here at HuffPostTech, we -- yep, you and I -- are chroniclers of technology's evolving solar system.
All these rocks, dust and gas are part of a messy, volatile planetary development stage -- with the Internet as the Sun. Disruption is constant. Comets fly in and out. Planets are continually building up mass, seeking to dominate their own orbits. Look at Facebook, which last week announced that it has turned a profit and counts 300 million users. And don't forget Google and its constellation of moons: Google Earth, Google Maps, Gmail, not to mention YouTube (and the people who start and end their days watching videos) and AdSense (the lifeline for many Web sites who live off it). To many, Google is the Sun. Then here comes Twitter, which for some seemed like nothing more than a meteoroid or an asteroid, before rapidly becoming a planet of its own.
But what about Apple and its undeniable gravitational force? Apple people -- well, some say they belong to a whole other planet. (Relax, Apple fanpersons, as Fake Steve Jobs calls them in a blog for HuffPostTech.) What about Microsoft and Yahoo!, whose Bing and Yahoo! Search have teamed up to challenge Google? And what about IBM and Oracle, Intel and Cisco? Though lacking the star power -- that trendy, often fleeting "it" factor (and "it" does not stand for "informational technology") -- these planetary stalwarts still claim spaces of their own. They are not to be discounted.
As you can read from the mix of posted stories and blog on the site, HuffPostTech covers the latest developments in technology's solar system -- the companies, gadgets, Web sites and apps that populate our ever-shifting lives. But just as important as offering a useful and one-stop-shop for the latest tech-oriented news, HuffPostTech also features a unique, surprising and diverse collection of bloggers you're not likely to read in one tech site. There's a blog from Robin Caldwell, managing editor of Black Web 2.0, lamenting the missing faces of blacks and Hispanics in the upper echelon of the tech community, alongside a post from Maya Baratz, formerly of Flickr and now at MTV Networks, blogging on what she called "The Silicone Ceiling" -- the story of the gender gap in technology. Together with other HuffPostTech bloggers, they write about the evolutionary, chaotic state of this solar system, in addition to analyzing how the the non-stop flood of technological advances impacts how we behave and see ourselves.
I grew up in Mountain View, Calif., near the geographic heart of Silicon Valley, home to Google's headquarters. Shortly after graduating from San Francisco State University in 2004, I moved to Washington, D.C., to write for the Washington Post. While at the Post, I reported on the marathon that was the 2008 presidential campaign through the prism of technology and politics: how everyday people, regardless of their background, are interacting with politics through the Internet and their cell phones. Then, in joining HuffPost to launch HuffPostTech, I moved to New York, which has a thriving, eclectically distinctive tech scene. This is a long way of saying that I look at technology with an expansive view, always open to ideas and insight. "Technology is anthropology" means it's about us -- and where we fit in.
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Follow Jose Antonio Vargas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joseiswriting