Offline Problems, Online Solutions – NBPC Black Technology Now! Summit Wrap Up

As I alluded to before, I had an amazing experience at the National Black Programming Consortium‘s (NBPC) Black Technology Now! Summit (BTN) in Boston, MA on November 8-9, 2006. I would like to thank NBPC and WGBH Boston for hosting this phenomenal event and giving me a platform upon which I could share my ideas.

As you may remember, I was invited to be a member of a panel called NEW FUNKY: Virtual Communities of Color & More. The subject of my presentation was Offline Problems, Online Solutions (audio in WMA format, PowerPoint slides). In this presentation, I presented my ideas for creating communities online to address real, tangible social issues. My main point was that it is not interesting to create anything online if it does not solve a problem in the offline world. I profiled The SuperSpade, and another venture that I am a part of called Detroit Intern. I also talked about future plans for these and other ventures I am dreaming about :-).

Here, I’ll include pointers to the audio [in WMA format] of my presentation, my slides, as well as my answers to some of the discussion questions that were interesting. Enjoy, and feel free to leave/give feedback.

Offline Problems, Online Solutions Audio (9.39)
Offline Problems, Online Solutions PowerPoint Presentation

Answer to a question about finding and developing audiences (1.51)
Answer to a question about engaging people who are hesitant to participate in online forums (1.49)
Answer to a question about blogging ethics (1.33)
Answer to another question about blogging ethics (1.33)

One Love. One II.



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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

2 responses to “Offline Problems, Online Solutions – NBPC Black Technology Now! Summit Wrap Up”

  1. "The Consigliere" says :


    I think the speech was effective on two fronts. One, I have never the concept of the Superspade explained to a room full of strangers before. I was unaware that the readership was that huge. Secondly, and more importantly, in considering the Q&A I was reminded that the Superspade is an exercise in principle. It is a forum for people to take a stance on issues that matter, be heard and also be taken seriously.

    It has also been an instrument of self-discovery, as we have grown through the tension and “soul mining” the website has provided. Garlin’s premise is such an important one: That if online solutions do not solve offline problems, then it is not serving the interest of the people. After all we live in a real world with real problems, not a virtual one of make believe.

    Kudos to Garlin for faithfully carrying the Superspade message and mentality to vast audiences. It is starting to get really major. And thanks to all of you who share this mindset and have supported Brandon, Garlin and myself in this labor of love.

  2. Brandon Q. says :

    Great speech G,

    Just the other night I heard Tom Brokaw give an interview where he discredited the blogging community becuase he said that too many people are talking and too few people are listening. Of course, he is more concerned with people listening to him, but this is besides the point.

    Throughout the history of the site, I have seen through the comments and offline converations that our attempts to have our posts jump off the screen into people’s lives is actually happening.

    I can’t believe we have been doing this for a year but I thank God for blessing us with the opportunity to help improve the quality of people’s lives.

    Stay up fam,

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