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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Where Do You Want To Go Today?

Nearly five million Americans can’t vote because of a felony conviction. The fancy word for that is disenfranchisement. The concept of disenfranchisement applies not only in politics and the right to vote, but also when it comes to technology. There is a term that computer geeks throw around called "digital disenfranchisement." It is more than a clever phrase – it is a scary reality that faces our community today.

There is a forecast that as technology develops, those of us that lack the technological savvy will be left behind, in every sense you can imagine. Some readers may be able to relate. If anyone has ever tried to apply for a job across the street at Cub Foods, there is no way to apply unless you sit at a computer and enter the information into a Web-based form. Similarly Copps, Staples, Home Depot and many other major employers in Madison summoned paper applications into the not-so-distant past. It is sometimes scary how fast technology is moving because not everyone is keeping up.

Prior to working in the non-profit world, my career was rooted in technology and the Internet. I was very fortunate when I was homeless and in line at the Hospitality House trying to get funding toward an Allied Drive apartment. I had this power that many other homeless people did not have. I knew my way around the technological world.

For me, that meant that I was able to utilize the Internet access at Hospitality House and other various agencies to hustle up money by selling things I no longer needed on eBay and I was able to talk to business owners and convince them to give me some money in exchange for a fully-functional Web site.

In the long run, technology allows literally anyone to make money through the Internet through PPC advertising, blogging, and even MySpace has income potential if you can be creative. I often tell people that the power of technology comes with the ability to do what you really want to do in life. I work a full time job at a non-profit agency because I love what I do. However, if it came down to money, I can tell you hands down that I would make double the money if I were to sit at home all day on my computer. Those who want to make money on the Internet will know what PPC advertising is, how to build a Web page, and have stories to tell. That could be anyone on Allied Drive.

It’s not easy and it could take years to really understand what you are doing but the point is to start. Begin by spending time with like-minded people and learn what you can at every moment that you can. Free Internet access is everywhere, Boys and Girls Club, the library, Urban League, the Job Center. Learning technology is easy. All you have to do is click. As Microsoft would say, where do you want to go today?

This column was originally published in Madison Voices, Allied Drive's community newspaper. Visit their Web site at:


Anonymous said...

Lina, did you see the resources I put together for HEART AND SOUL (Information & Technology Literacy link at when I was a guest talking about information and technology literacy - you bring up some good points.

"digital disenfranchisement" or digital divide - doesn't matter what we call it and its not about software and hardware either - its about the information and technology literacy skills that are needed to keep up with emerging technologies. After all, just as soon as I get comfortable with computer software/hardware, it all changes anyhow.

I enjoy working with your columns (I am VOICES Webmaster and create most of the page layouts and graphic designs).

I also do the CLUB TNT Website ( and have a WEB SEMINAR there that has links to almost everything a person could want to know about Microsoft software and the basics of Web design.

Lina Trivedi said...

Thanks for the resources - we really need some of the "techies" should get together and try to do something about the digital divide out here - it is all very scary to me ...