Friday, September 28, 2012

Luddite to Tech-Evangelist: One Woman's Journey

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Hello. My name is Elizabeth Lemmonds, and I’m a reformed Luddite.

And now I spend my days working with some of Memphis’ top innovators, tech-based entrepreneurs and the developer community through my work with LaunchMemphis, Seed Hatchery and EmergeMemphis.

To be fair, when I started college mainstream technology included clunky word processors and answering machines. "Computer Literacy" - a class which taught you to send an email - was a required Gen Ed course.

By contrast, my daughter Ripley just moved into her dorm with a laptop, Netflix and an iPhone. `

When I finally had my moment of conversion, I didn’t accept technology grudgingly; I dove in with ferocity.

In short, it finally dawned upon me that technology is neutral. Technology is a tool. And perhaps more significantly, technology facilitates access. Access to information, goods, services, resources and people.

And access breeds opportunity.

Technology can level the playing field, putting global resources at the fingertips of students or providing a microphone to nonprofits, artists and startup companies who were formerly lost in the blitz of high-dollar advertising and marketing campaigns.

Of course, like any other tool technology can be used for less-noble purposes like disseminating mundane breakfast updates, cat photos, and incessant political tirades.

But it also helps us share baby pictures with far-away friends and family members, engage with elected officials, discover new products and services, streamline our ubiquitous multitasking, and meet soul-mates. In recent months, technology-driven services like Twitter have amplified social outcry and driven political revolutions.

This is a but a sampling of reasons that excite me about this opportunity between LaunchMemphis and the Memphis Flyer to launch Ones and Zeros.

Among other things, we envision Ones and Zeros becoming a platform for spotlighting the leading edge innovation that is happening right here in Memphis.

For example, Paytopia, a startup company from our Seed Hatchery business accelerator, is launching an online payment system that requires no credit card details.

BioNanovations from Zero to 510 (the nation’s first cohort-based medical device accelerator that graduated its inaugural class in August) is using nanotechnology to identify strains of bacterial infections in groundbreaking time.

Work for Pie has proclaimed the death of the traditional job board for developers, and deserves credit for its demise.

The University of Memphis FedEx Institute of Technology houses interdisciplinary research like the Institute for Intelligent Systems where studies include artificial intelligence systems.

Memphis Bioworks Foundation is a nonprofit that supports and expands our bioscience industry in the areas of biomedical, biologistics and bioagriculture.

The Medical Education and Research Institute (MERI) trains medical professionals and first responders through remarkably lifelike anatomical simulators that can cry, bleed, give birth, and die.

FedEx SenseAwareSM earned CIO Rob Carter a spot on Fast Company’s list of Most Creative People in Business with its near real-time tracking of a package’s location, temperature and humidity readings.

And then there is the Power Center Academy in Hickory Hill, a Memphis City Charter School providing 6th-9th grade students a curriculum anchored in entrepreneurship, financial literacy and technology. And the North Memphis Community Technology Center, a nonprofit passionate about improving lives through technology accessibility and literacy.

The above stories - and more that you’ll see here in the coming months - serve to reinforce my recovery from luddite to tech-evangelist and my loyalty to this community as my City of Choice.

Make no mistake, the future is here. In Memphis.

LaunchMemphis is proud to play a role in that future, and excited to bring you along for the ride with Ones & Zeros.

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