The Washington Post recently ran a story about how a new documentary, which chronicles African-American life in Silicon Valley and is set to air on CNN in mid-November, has sparked a debate about racism in the tech business. Twitter has served as the field of battle for the discussion, with bloggers and scholars like Anil Dash, Vivek Wadwha and Michael Arrington all passionately tweeting their opinions on the topic. Naturally, everybody else on Twitter has opinions about black entrepreneurs (or the lack thereof) in Silicon Valley and has weighed in on the subject. The topic of race is always one that will raise eyebrows and voices and this one has struck a chord. In the post-Steve Jobs era, Silicon Valley and the world are looking for the next leader in the tech industry and CNN’s documentary questions why there isn’t a black frontrunner for the position. Meanwhile, we think CNN is the real winner here, drawing national attention to a cable documentary that might have otherwise slipped under the radar had it not been for Twitter.
It’s interesting to see Twitter as a place of real discussion. CNN and others like it have been trying to use the platform for legitimate debates for quite some time, but until recently the efforts haven’t garnered much attention. Traditionally the only feuds people pay attention to are the ones between Beiber fans and the rest of the world or the ones started by professional athletes. Perhaps it’s the subject matter, but CNN’s made-for-cable documentary has now become appointment viewing largely due to the discussions being held online. The network has increasingly used social media to promote its programming and this Twitter debate personifies the kind of social media marketing we’re bound to see by news networks during this election year.
Whatever your thoughts on racial diversity in Silicon Valley, you can’t deny that Twitter has become a vital marketing tool and a lively place for discussion.