Friday, March 18, 2011

BDPA, Closing the Digital Divide

In a time where someone can broadcast his political platform through Vimeo and professionals get advice through LinkedIn, there is still a need for a membership association that facilitates face-to-face meetings between information technologists. BDPA is the national association on a drive to organize blacks in technology into a unified field of technological expertise. “Black Data Processors Association—as BDPA was originally known—was formed in 1975 by Earl Pace and others due to the lack of minorities in the field; a lack of preparation of black youth to enter the field,” explains NYC chapter president Renetta English, “and the lack of preparation for blacks in the field to move up the ranks.”

New York City has the sixth largest chapter with offerings for the business owner or employee; the student and black community at large. There is the monthly Meet and Greet for networking and program meetings to sharpen information technology and professional skills. “The High School Computer Competition was introduced in 1989 which has teenage teams build working models or complex software applications. BDPA birthed another teen collaboration project called IT Showcase in 2010. The IT Showcase has the youth research and present high-tech projects involving such issues as artificial intelligence and cyber viruses,” beams English.

The digital divide is a continuing concern. Though more blacks work in technology and far more are consumers of IT, the community still lags behind US white households. Black Family Technology Awareness Week (BFTAW) is meant to stem the disparity. BDPA board member Tyrone McKinney a group member that conceived BFTAW. “Eleven years ago, BDPA collaborated with 100 Black Men, Inc. and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) to put on a week of events to expose people to different pockets of technology that includes software applications, personal computers and career opportunities,” states McKinney. “For example, a past BFTAW event had a talk about operating systems. Android, IOS, and OSX are variances of the open source operating system UNIX.”

BFTAW is held in February in honor of Black History Month. The recent NYC chapter offering included presentations on cyber bullying and careers in the gaming industry. SoulRealis, ceo Sean Scott was the speaker for the gaming industry segment. Scott spoke to this writer before presenting. Scott noted that “there are not many blacks in the gaming sector. The major development careers are programmer, artist, audio engineer, quality assurance, designer, and producer.”
SoulRealis’ major product is Game Dev Master. This is a website that connects everyone required for game development. Scott quips, “In industry lingo this is a matchmaker.”

In very recent years—2011 included—New York’s BFTAW event has been sited off the beaten path. Rather than a Manhattan tech industry address or Brooklyn’s wired DUMBO area, the event has been deep in central Brooklyn. This year it was in Brownsville at the Abundant Life Christian Center. The church has high capacity seating and a state-of-the-art media center. While the verdict is out on what is optimal siting, the reader may view the proceedings on cable or online on BCAT. Stay connected with BDPA through its website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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