THE BLOG
09/15/2014 01:15 pm ET Updated Nov 14, 2014

Don't Exploit Ferguson for a Net Gain

Ferguson is one of those situations that forces us to reevaluate where we are as a people, as a culture, as a society and what things need to be improved. Ferguson is about a lot of things (ex. civil rights, racial equality) but the one thing Ferguson it's not about is net neutrality, so it disturbs me when I read commentary that tries to leverage our emotional anxiety about Ferguson to talk about other issues that people are being encouraged to promote.

Recently I read two articles, one by Malkia Cyriil and one by James Rucker. Both articles started off by talking about Ferguson but quickly wanted to try and relate Ferguson to the net neutrality debate. This is disappointing on many levels but most importantly because one has nothing to do with the other, one doesn't impact the other, and most importantly you're not educating our people about the specific issue so they can make informed decisions. It reminds me of the same conversation that happened four years ago when the net neutrality debate when everything I read was about who was getting paid from who, who was being aligned with who, and it didn't educate consumers about the real issues four years ago. The letter I wrote to James Rucker then still applies, "An open letter to James Rucker". I joined the debate then, and for the same reason I feel compelled to start entering the debate again because I think it's more important to educate our people about what the real issues are what they stand to gain or lose based on the decisions made, and what the the opportunities are as opposed to getting stuck in conversations that excite emotions but don't give clarity to the issue.

I am even more convinced about this since over the past four years I've been focused on connecting people to the digital opportunity having them understand the value of the Internet through my Close The Divide project, educating thousands on how the to take advantage of the digital opportunity for themselves and their families and how it can help them better their overall quality of life. I would ask what the other people in this debate have been doing besides waiting for another opportunity to cloud the perception around the issue. But I would challenge that if you goal is update and help people, then give them the facts so they can make their own decision on what will bring value to them. If your comments are the same then that can't be your goal because our needs have changed, the Internet has changed, but ironically your tactics seem to be the same. Look i'm not a lobbyist, politician or any of that. I'm just someone who technology has made a significant impact on and who believes that widening people's perceptions is more valuable than clouding it by connecting it to things that it should not be. And that's what i will continue to do.