America’s Intense Focus on Boosting STEM Education Could Be Detrimental to Innovation

Is it possible to create the world’s next great social media site without understanding people’s digital behaviors? Would anyone be downloading books and magazines to tablets if there wasn’t first a community of amazing authors who made desirable, timeless content? Can anyone understand where technological advances are needed if there is not first a broader understanding of the humanities and liberal arts?

These are the types of questions that some experts are asking as the United States becomes obsessed with boosting educational efforts in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and proposing serious budget cuts and eventual elimination of more liberal subjects.

“Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists?” Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott once questioned. “I don’t think so.”

But the push to eliminate liberal programs and focus solely on STEM subjects could be extremely counterproductive and work to eliminate the years of innovation that have made America a powerhouse when it comes to technological advancements.

What many of these liberal-arts-opposing politicians fail to realize is that advances in technology do not happen in an exclusive world from the humanities and liberal arts.

While STEM subjects often lead to innovation, they are not synonymous with such.

“Innovation is not simply a technical matter but rather one of understanding how people and societies work, what they need and want,” “In Defense of a Liberal Education” author Fareed Zakaria explained in a column for The Washington Post. “America will not dominate the 21st century by making cheaper computer chips but instead by constantly reimagining how computers and other new technologies interact with human beings.”

Some of the greatest STEM success stories come from entrepreneurs who understood this definition of innovation.

From Apple’s Steve Jobs to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s many leaders in STEM understand that while an education in the sciences and a background in technology is important, it is not the only piece to the puzzle.

“Facebook’s innovations have a lot to do with psychology,” Zakaria explained. “Zuckerberg often pointed out that before Facebook was created, most people shielded their identities on the Internet …Facebook’s insight was that it could create a culture of real identifies, where people would voluntarily expose themselves to their friends, and this would become a transformative platform.”

It’s that sense of wondering “what if” and an imaginative mind that was able to create the vision for an online social media platform that was revolutionary in design and concept.

Zakaria also notes that while politicians may be quivering in fear about low test scores when compared to other countries, the U.S. is still a leader in innovation and that’s because it’s a leader in creative thinking.

Many countries that root educational efforts in technical studies and memorization excel on standardized tests but fall short when it comes to creating real-world innovations.

It’s because memorizing facts and theories doesn’t translate to creating new technologies, exploring scientific possibilities, imagining new ways to build and construct and unlocking the true message behind a wall of numbers and statistics.

“The dismissal of broad-based learning, however, comes from a fundamental misreading of the facts — and puts America on a dangerously narrow path for the future,” Zakaria adds. “The United States has led the world in economic dynamism, innovation and entrepreneurship thanks to exactly the kind of teaching we are now told to defenestrate. A broad general education helps foster critical thinking and creativity.”

That kind of critical thinking and creativity is what allows STEM leaders to find the truly innovative purposes for STEM efforts, such as finding the connection between 3-D printing, iconic superheroes and children’s prosthetics.

So while the nation may not be leading the way in international standardized test scores, America’s future when it comes to innovation is not nearly as bleak as the scores suggest.

In fact, it may very well be brighter than the countries that have grounded their educational achievements in such tests.

Zakaria pointed out that two other highly innovative countries, Sweden and Israel, rarely have impressive rankings when it comes to test scores.

They are both, much like the U.S., leaders in boosting real-world innovations that have revolutionized their economies.

The STEM field is a vital one and indeed many more Black children need the opportunity to get involved in such subjects. As we enter the digital age, more people will need to garner a firm foundation in STEM, but the elimination of a liberal education in the midst of this new era will only rid STEM careers of their creative, innovative potential.

Sources: Jay Z’s New Streaming Service Could Be the Biggest Threat to Apple’s Upcoming Beats Music

The world of digital streaming may be gearing up for the battle of the decade all thanks to Jay Z’s latest business venture that may come dangerously close to stepping on Apple’s toes.

Jay Z only recently purchased Aspiro, the Swedish company behind Tidal and WiMP, but it seems he’s already transformed Tidal into a top-notch competitor with the potential to overshadow Apple’s upcoming Beats streaming service.

There are certain names, certain brands and certain businesses that are deemed undefeatable in the eyes of many — hip-hop mogul Jay Z and tech giant Apple are among the names on this list.

So who wins a battle that pits both of these giants against one another?

According to the New York Post’s sources, here is how the match is stacking up so far.

In Apple’s corner we have rap icon Dr. Dre and mega-producer Jimmy Iovine who have been teaming up to overhaul Apple’s upcoming Beats music service.

In Tidal’s corner, we have hip-hop mogul and versatile entrepreneur Jay Z, international singing sensation Beyonce, self-proclaimed creative genius and rap veteran Kanye West, the leader of her own navy and Billboard chart-topper Rihanna … need we go on?

To be fair, all of the music moguls involved have a list of connections in the music and entertainment space that could trump a full encyclopedia set in length, and it’s hard to imagine any of them wouldn’t get their phone calls answered when they’re ready to talk business.

Sources claim, however, that Jay Z is possibly the only man who is actually more connected than the Beats duo.

“There’s only one person with a bigger Rolodex than Jimmy Iovine and that’s Jay Z,” one source said.

Jay Z’s advantage doesn’t just stop at connections and contacts either.

While Tidal is earning a reputation as the streaming platform “by artists, for artists,” Apple’s iTunes service has already garnered a negative reputation for playing hardball with record labels.

That type of reputation could be difficult to overcome as the company prepares to launch its Beats service.

“Jay Z’s whole approach is, they’re created by artists, supported by artists,” one anonymous label executive told the New York Post. “The more players the better.”

With Roc Nation under Jay Z’s belt as well, he has a plethora of key players in the music business that his company represents, including Kanye West and DJ DeadMau5.

It creates a possible team roster that is not only extensive in size and impressive in the overall quality of music, but also extremely diverse.

With his own loyal following of hip-hop heads, his wife’s team of pop-loving BeeHive dwellers and DJ DeadMau5’s fanbase of both progressive-house music lovers and those who are just fascinated with his funky mouse heads, Tidal already has a diverse network ready to be tapped into.

Not to mention Tidal made a huge play by securing a deal with Taylor Swift shortly after she cut ties with Spotify.

“If you are Jimmy, you’ve got to be thinking, this guy is beating me to the punch at trying to get all the artists,” another source said.

Jay Z’s rumored guest list for his New York launch event for Tidal on Monday is yet another look into the wide span of award-winning artists who are getting behind the service.

Reports revealed that Rihanna, Madonna and Coldplay are just a few of the major stars who are rumored to be attending the lavish event.

It all signifies a few powerful first blows coming out of Tidal’s corner, but since Apple’s Beats service doesn’t plan on launching until the summer it’s hard to gauge how powerful the response will be from the opposing corner.

Regardless, one thing is already certain.

As another source put it, Jay Z is clearly “disrupting Apple’s venture.”

6 Tech Giants That Signed Fat Checks to Help Black Students in STEM but Still Lack Diversity in Their Own Companies



Google has consistently donated to a variety of different causes aimed at boosting diversity in the tech space, including the Black Girls Code initiative. Google donated $190,000 to the initiative in 2014 but never did much for increasing diversity in its own staff. That same year, Google’s diversity report revealed that roughly 79 percent of the tech giant’s staff across the globe was male. Only about 2 percent of the staff was Black.

IKEA Helps Consumers Cut the Cord With New Line of Wireless-Charging Furniture

wireless charging tables

More tech consumers have been adamantly looking for wireless alternatives to charging their mobile devices, and IKEA is now presenting them with a new option that is both stylish and functional.

IKEA made the announcement Sunday that its new Home Smart collection will be able to wirelessly charge consumers’ cellphones, tablets and other mobile devices through simple contact.

These days, cellphones take on an incredible amount of responsibility throughout the daily lives of their owners.

Today’s smartphones will typically have to operate GPS functions, stream live music or videos, run several active windows on the Internet, keep up with running apps, serve as a digital wallet and credit card, snap pictures, record videos, give consumers access to their favorite games, update calendars and decode the many random questions that consumers are often too lazy to type into the Google search bar all in one day. All of these responsibilities, of course, come along with the need to receive and send calls and text messages.

With mobile devices taking on so many functions, the batteries take a toll and it isn’t long before tech lovers hear the dreaded beeping noise of a battery that has officially slid under the 10 percent mark.

Rather than struggle to remember where the charger is when time is of the essence, people can now simply put their phones down and have confidence that their low battery nightmare will be over soon.

That’s the power of IKEA’s new line of furniture.

The Home Smart brand is launching with a collection of lamps, bedside tables and a coffee table, but there is already speculation that the furniture giant will be expanding the designs in the future.

Wireless charging furniture

All Home Smart pieces will be able to charge users’ cellphones as soon as they put the device down.

The furniture will use the wireless-charging standard Qi and is scheduled to be available throughout North America and the U.K. by April.

A discreet plus sign will be featured on the Home Smart pieces, letting buyers know where to place their devices when it comes time to give them a little charge.

The new line is a smart move on IKEA’s behalf as the tech trend of “cutting the cord” has been growing at an exponential rate.

As tech giants are working to figure out how to create devices with longer battery life, buyers are also looking for ways to charge their devices without scrambling for the cord and scurrying to the nearest outlet.

It’s important to note that the furniture will only be compatible with certain mobile devices, but the collection will also include charging pads that will be able to work with more Samsung and Apple models.

SOLO Phone Could Eventually Dominate Nigeria’s Mobile Phone Market by Shifting Focus From Hardware to Experience

SOLO phone launch

A 30-year-old tech entrepreneur is hoping to dominate Nigeria’s mobile phone market by growing a company that places more focus on user experience rather than the actual hardware that many other tech giants compete over.

The Nigerian entrepreneur, Michael Akindele, is the director and co-founder of SOLO Phone, “an experience-driven digital content and smartphone company focused on delivering the best content and services on the mobile platform to African consumers,” Forbes reported.

While most mobile companies are already engaged in a grueling war over who has the best hardware specifications, the SOLO executives made a wise decision — find a different way to approach the market.

While Apple is the biggest tech giant in the mobile phone space that has also been focusing on user experience, the phone is often too expensive for Nigeria’s market.

That left an opportunity for SOLO to fill that void.

“SOLO is an emerging markets play,” Akindele told Forbes. “SOLO is an experience-driven device manufacturer with a vision to provide the best content and services to the African and emerging markets consumer at an affordable price that not only delivers tremendous value for money but also enriches their lives. The foundation of SOLO is built on delivering key value added services in critical enterprise verticals such as education, health care and commerce, to mention a few.”

With this type of business model, many would argue that SOLO’s partnerships are much more valuable to the brand than its hardware specs, although those are still important pieces of the package.

The difference, however, is the shift in focus. So while an emerging mobile phone company may find it hard to go head-to-head with Apple when it comes to screen resolution, camera quality or battery life, it may be more possible that an emerging company can hold its own when it comes to the type of apps and digital content that is already available on the devices.

“Today, SOLO offers affordable smartphones bundled with free music — up to 20 million songs licensed from Sony, Universal and Warner,” Akindele continued. “This innovation was possible because of partners that believe in the SOLO vision. We also recently launched a Video-On-Demand app available to all Android devices in Nigeria offering the latest Nollywood and Hollywood movies from global movie studies such as Disney, Universal Studios and Sony Pictures.”

Akindele said SOLO’s market approach has paid off so far with consumers receiving the “offerings relatively well.”

“In our first year, we established strong distribution network across Nigeria by partnering with key smartphone retailers,” he said. “Furthermore, we’ve also partnered with primary ecommerce platforms to drive adoption and sales of our device and services.”

The company is currently working on dominating Nigeria’s mobile market but has future plans of expanding all throughout the African continent.

With an affordable product and a new perspective on how to attract consumers to its mobile devices, SOLO’s dreams of an African takeover could very well become a reality as the continent’s tech market continues to develop.

6 Ways You May Be Destroying Your Smartphone And Not Even Know It


power_button_icon_by_slamiticon-d66wj9fLeaving It On for Long Periods

Believe it or not, our machines need to rest from time to time like we do. To ensure that your smartphone works well and operates to its fullest, always power it down for 30 minutes to an hour. This action can allow diagnostics to run, caches to clear and RAM to last longer.



Smartphone malware is far worse than malware on computers because it can track your location no matter where you are. This harmful software can steal vital data and personal information about you. There are many apps that remove malware, like the app Malwarebytes. Keep your phones and your data safe.

Apple Weaning Users Off Google for Good? ‘Apple Search’ Rumors Explode Online

Apple Search engine rumors

Google is one tech giant that seems to have its hand in everything, but most people know the major brand as the king of search engines. Apple, however, could be shaking things up a bit.

Cult of Mac recently spotted a job ad online that made reference to an Apple service that the general public isn’t privy to just yet.

The job summary said this project manager would need to work on a “search platform supporting hundreds of millions of users” and would “play a part in revolutionizing how people use their computers and mobile devices.”

For many people, this news suggests that Apple is on the brink of releasing its own search engine that would go head-to-head with Google.

That could likely be a disastrous business move on Apple’s behalf since Google has made it clear that nobody is willing to walk away from the established search engine that millions have become familiar with in order to use a newer search engine.

Apple has been known to make well-calculated, strategic moves, and trying to dominate the search engine space just wouldn’t make sense for the reigning king of mobile devices.

What would make sense, however, would be to get its own iPhone, iPad and Mac users weaned off Google for good now that the company has been getting into the mobile device space itself.

As Engadget writer Aaron Souppouris explains, Apple has already been taking steps toward Google independence after it removed YouTube and Google Maps from its set of default iOS apps.

Having its own search engine on all Apple devices would definitely be another step toward Google independence and could possibly drag down Google’s market share.

When Mozilla removed Google as its default search provider, Google’s market share took a serious hit, according to StatCounter.

That move caused the number of Firefox users who use Google to drop from 82 percent to 64 percent.

There is no telling how many people would be weaned off Google if their Apple products worked on a default Apple search engine.

The only problem is, many Apple consumers aren’t too hopeful about the possible search engine thanks to constant frustrations with Siri and Apple Maps.

“I hope the people who are working on the apple search are not the same people who worked on apple maps because if they are there will be a lot of people getting really lost and won’t be seen again,” one Engadget reader wrote.

Other comments said Apple’s map application was “awful” and slammed Siri as “useless.”

Either way, it’s important to note that Apple has made no comments about the possible search engine and for now Apple Search is nothing more than an intriguing rumor.

If Apple Search isn’t already in the works, however, there is a chance that the rumors could give the tech giant a great new idea.

After all, the two tech giants are no strangers to competing with each other, especially now that they are both working to dominate the “smartwatch” business. 


After Revealing Its Own Diversity Issues, Tech Giant Google Gives $775,000 to a Diversity-Boosting Nonprofit

Google diversity

After years of contributing to the diversity problem in tech, Google is stepping up and donating $775,000 to Code2040, a nonprofit that aims to boost diversity in the tech space.

It wasn’t long ago that Google was in the hot seat after the tech giant’s diversity report revealed a stunning lack of diversity among its employees. Reports indicated that only about 1 percent of Google’s employees were Black.

Well now Google is hoping to help foster diversity with a hefty donation that will allow Code2040 to launch a Technical Applicant Prep (TAP) program.

The program will give Black and Latino students access to the type of resources and tools they need to perfect their craft in the tech sphere. This is a major move for Code2040 because the lack of resources is one of the major factors keeping people of color out of the tech space, in addition to racially biased hiring processes and subconscious prejudices in the industry.

Code2040 has always operated on a platform that supports the idea that people of color can thrive in the tech space if they are given the resources and opportunity to do so.

In addition to allowing Code2040 to launch its TAP program, Google’s donation could have an even greater impact on the nonprofit.

Google is one of the most popular and most successful tech giants there is and its hefty donation is a major seal of approval of the Code2040 mission, which could easily help the nonprofit garner the attention of other major players in the tech field.

People are also hoping that it will encourage other major tech companies to make diversity a priority.

To be clear, Google certainly isn’t the first major tech company to dedicate a large amount of money to helping the diversity mission.

Intel recently announced a plan to spend $300 million to improve workplace diversity and invest in other diversity-boosting initiatives, programs and nonprofits over the course of several years.

Apple was also a major giant behind the Hour of Code, which provided free coding classes to young people all across the globe. Apple has also recently surfaced as a leader in hiring more Blacks and Latinos than the other major competing tech giants.

While Google, Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo all had workforces that weren’t even 10 percent Black and Hispanic, Apple boosted its number of Black and Latino workers to 18 percent.

That percentage is still low and not representative of the actual number of Blacks and Latinos in the tech space, but it is certainly a vast improvement for the company and a much better score than the numbers presented by its competitors.

For now, Blerds are hopeful that Google’s donation is also a sign that the company will be opening its own doors to more Black and Latino employees.

As for Code2040, the nonprofit will also be launching a residency program for tech entrepreneur hopefuls.

The “entrepreneur-in-residence” program will kick off in three pilot cities—Austin, Texas; Durham, North Carolina, and Chicago.

While these residents will receive roughly $40,000 in seed money from the nonprofit, Code2040 will not take any equity from the businesses.


8 Futuristic Features We Can’t Wait For Every Car To Have in a Matter of Years



Parallel parking is difficult for a lot of people. In a few years, this feature will be offered in many cars. A feature like this could possibly solve urban parking issues. Self-parking cars may prevent traffic jams, allow the cars to park in smaller spaces and making parallel parking faster.


Medical Emergency Detection

In a few years, cars will have sensors that produce injury reports when car accidents occur. These reports will help doctors diagnose symptoms much quicker.

Can Apple Pass Android as a Gaming Platform in 2015?

With the value of the remote gambling sector set to exceed $182.8 billion by the end of 2015, it is clear that this medium represents the future of gambling. The use of mobile and tablet devices also is expected to peak and rise by more than 20 percent in the next 12 months, meaning that these platforms will play a pivotal role in driving growth throughout the sector. From a user perspective, however, the most difficult challenge is selecting the ideal platform and operating system from which to indulge your passion for gaming.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the key considerations for consumers and consider which platform offers the best value for money. Apple and Android are the two main choices, so keep the following points in mind before making a decision.

Historically, Android handsets dominated the gaming market in terms of graphics and gameplay. While some would argue that this has not changed after the release of the Nvidia Shield Tablet, however, the much-improved iOS 8 and Metal graphics engine has at least created a starting point for debate. In fact, when you consider the multi-purpose nature of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, these handsets arguably offer a more convenient gaming experience and far greater value for the consumer’s hard-earned money.

In terms of the range of available games, it is a slightly different story. The Android platform is partnered with the Google Play store, which includes a huge array of games and various titles across multiple genres. From increasingly popular puzzles to games that encourage men and women gambling, this range offers a more diverse gaming experience that will engage players of all ages. The same cannot be said for Apple, who despite increasing its library remains far behind Android in terms of library size.

While this may be considered as a tie, it is fair to say that the Android gaming experience remains a little more developed than the Apple alternative at present. The Nvidia Shield Tablet, which is the first device of its kind that has been designed specifically for gaming, has helped to maintain this competitive market edge as has Android’s partnership with Google Play. While next year’s iOS 9 upgrade and the release of the iPhone 6s may alter this landscape further, for now it is fair to say that Android remains marginally ahead of Apple for gaming.

Source: Guest Blogger at Black Girl Nerds