For a little less than a year, I have been contributing technology articles to an interesting blog launched by the USA Network (a cable television network) to celebrate people and organizations who are having a positive impact on American culture. Along with fellow writers who focus on all kinds of topics from food to music – my focus has been on technology and highlighting some of the most interesting and innovative products and people who are helping to make a cultural impact.
Sometimes, it is through big ideas – like IBM's Watson super computer that recently competed on Jeopardy … and sometimes it is micro ideas, like a stylishly designed AM radio. Big or small, thinking about the impact of technology on culture is a lens that can be easily forgotten within the daily struggle to stay on top of all your email or come up with a pithy comment to share over Twitter.
Tonight at 11pm EST/10pm CST, the USA Network will air an hour long special featuring some of the nominees in every category who have blazed new paths in their respective disciplines. The New Media and Technology honorees are the co-founders of Foursquare, Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai. Others on the list include Emily Pilloton for Design and her nonprofit design firm Project H, and singer, songwriter, dancer, and "futuristic funkstress" Janelle Monae.
As the social media "twitterati" get ready for what many consider the biggest Interactive festival and conference of the year at South By Southwest this weekend in Austin, USA's Character Approved project offers a nice reminder that behind all the gadgets and networks there is a real impact that technology and new media can have not just on how widely you can broadcast your opinion to the online world … but also on the culture that we are all playing a role in shaping.