By 1010 WINS’ Larry Mullins
NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Met a guy recently who made it quite clear: Silicon Valley (in Northern Cal) has nothing on Harlem! Sat down with Clayton Banks, who started a “think tank” (for all things techie) at a lab up in Harlem. His whole thing is putting Harlem (and other urban areas) “on the map,” as a high-tech hub.
Silicon Harlem was born in 2008 and with its digital diversity and education programs (geared at youngsters, as well as oldsters), Banks was telling me that it has gotten traction, and folks are starting to notice. As we see big companies like Amazon considering New York for its new headquarters (at least six cities are vying), Silicon Harlem is basically telling them, “Hey, look at us, we’re tech-savvy too and we have the people to help you get the job done.” And who better than Banks to make it happen? This guy has pioneered many cable and communications processes, which we use today for the last 20 years.
Remember the Sega gaming consoles from back in the day (dating myself, I know)? Well Banks was a senior VP at the time, instrumental in launching what would become the first interactive cable service available in the U.S. He also put in some time with companies like Showtime, HBO and Time Warner — a very diverse background, which armed him with a ton of knowledge, which he has decided to share with the community.
Listening to him talk, you could tell that he’s all about helping people, as he explains that he had access to all those resources and wanted to share it with the masses to create a Harlem that is digitally diverse. It’s so funny — almost everything we do today has something to do with computers. Banks says if you’re digitally illiterate, you might find yourself in dire straits when it comes to job, keeping up with critical lifestyle systems (the codes at doctor’s offices), etc.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many hats Banks has worn, and not to mention the many awards that he was won, as a result of his work. All I know is that this Harlemite is very intimidating (to me) with all his computer savvy. But he says that’s the reason folks need to become computer literate; so we “don’t” get intimidated by the new world landscape. He’s already working in our public schools, teaming up with the NYC Mayor’s office and he’s worked with former President Bill Clinton on several computer-based initiatives, and he’s not done yet. He has a huge Silicon Harlem conference coming up this year, which features workshops, networking and even a “pitch session” for people to take their best shot at getting their futuristic products noticed.
I’m impressed, but heck, this dude had me when he told me about a recent interactive workshop where kids were actually playing video games… that “they” created. What??