Saturday, November 02, 2013

Virtual HBCUs, Mobile Apps, and Hip Hop Moguls

Last updated: Sunday 11/3/13 @ 9:09 am
Last month I posted a note on this blog, Booker T 2, that suggested that HBCUs should emulate Booker T. Washington's successful efforts to obtain substantial support from wealthy patrons by appealing to their patrons' abiding, deep rooted self-interest, rather than to their sporadic impulses to "do good."

In other words, HBCUs should provide wealthy Americans with attractive investment opportunities, just as Booker T. Washington did so effectively over one hundred years ago when he obtained substantial support from Andrew Carnegie and other financial and industrial tycoons for Tuskegee and for other black institutions of higher learning.  Mr. Washington promised to produce highly skilled, non-union/lower wage, politically docile, segregated black laborers who would help sustain the industrial system that had made his patrons fabulously wealthy. Our appeals to today's captains of industry should promise comparable returns for their support. But how should we appeal?  And to which captains?

Slow Motion, Instant Replay
The answers that flashed into my mind were the inevitable next steps in the cascade of related ideas that I have been exploring in the most recent notes on this blog. (See the "Related Notes" at the bottom of this page)
  • Appeals should be made by virtual HBCUs, i.e., by strategic alliances of HBCUs, not by individual HBCUs
     
  • Virtual HBCUs should appeal for investments in the creation of virtual labs that would develop mobile apps, i.e., the software that runs on mobile platforms ==> smart phones, tablets, phablets, and other portable information and entertainment devices

    -- because information technology is the most powerful driver of today's global, knowledge-based economy,

    -- because mobile platforms and their apps are fast growing segments of this economy

    -- and because six or seven figure investments in virtual labs for a few years could yield mobile apps that might return seven or eight figure annual revenue streams for many more years.

    Therefore investing in mobile labs managed by virtual HBCUs should provide attractive investment opportunities for today's wealthy patrons.
But these answers still aren't sufficiently specific. Which economic sectors should be the targets for the mobile apps developed by the virtual labs? And which wealthy patrons would be most interested?

Rolling my mental videos back over last week's HBCU Innovation Summit sponsored by UNCF at Stanford University, my mind kept massaging the one facet of that historic meeting about which I was somewhat disappointed:
  • As near as I could tell from the meeting's agenda and invited speakers, from tweets and photos posted by attendees, and from my telephone conversations with my daughter who attended and participated, the conference seemed to emphasize innovations that might be developed by HBCU faculty.
     
  • But the achievements that motivated my interests as an educator/blogger have not been the achievements of the faculty at Stanford or Harvard, but the game changing innovations that were developed so quickly by their graduates and drop-outs --  Gates (Microsoft), Page & Brin (Google), Zuckerberg (Facebook), Systrom & Krieger (Instagram), etc, etc, etc.
     
  • Therefore I would encourage the creation of virtual labs that would  stimulate the creativity of the students who were engaged in the labs' activities, either for credit or just for the fun of it.  

Initial Focus on Sports and Entertainment

The last steps are straight-forward. Sports and entertainment are overlapping economic sectors about which many college students are highly knowledgeable. On the flip side, sports and entertainment are also economic sectors wherein blacks have enjoyed substantial financial success, not just as players and entertainers, but more recently as producers whose incomes are an order of magnitude larger than the incomes of the players and entertainers. 

The global proliferation of mobile devices together with continuous increases in the speed of their processors and wireless networks, and in their memory size and camera quality will trigger the continuous development of new mobile apps that will support radically new formats for fans to view their favorite sports and entertainment. 

Today's Hip Hop moguls could become tomorrow's majority holders of worthless stock ... unless they have early access to the powerful new  apps that will become their economic sector's most disruptive innovations ... the kind of access these moguls could obtain by funding the virtual labs at virtual HBCUs that will nurture the creative black developers of these innovations.

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Related Notes: