Those places that do the most with technology will be the winners in the digital economy. The power of gigabit broadband—and other digital technologies—is realized when it enables better decision-making, more informed, inclusive, and effective action, and solutions to real world problems. You can't use it if you don't have it, but just having it doesn't do much good. You have to use it! That's where technology leadership is critical.

It can be difficult to really use digital technology because there are so many uncertainties about costs and results. Use of digital technology often involves profound change to what you do as well as how you do it, and such changes can be really scary. Effective use of technology requires vision, discipline, and ability to rally others ot action. In other words, it requires leadership.

Typical "great man" command-and-control leadership doesn't work; it results in incremental uses that don't meet evolving needs, generate excess costs without capturing the key benefits, and are quickly out-dated. Technology experts tend to get too deep into the technology itself. They usually don't want to  deal with business exgicencies, let alone human and social vagaries.

I have seen many communities with wonderful broadband assets fail to develop simply because they did not have the technology leadership necessary to capitalize on their assets. In contrast, I've seen apparently disadvantaged communities do amazing things because they had people who could connect with prospective users, understand their concerns and needs, and bridge the gap between traditional leaders and technology experts. We need more people with these capabilities.

That's why I am delighted to announce that Eduity has received support from the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund—a joint initiative between Mozilla, US Ignite and the National Science Foundation—to take the technology leadership program model from the corporate setting and adapt it to the community setting.

Over the next few months we'll be working with Hive Chattanooga to take ideas about what technology leadership is and how to develop it, and test them in Chattanooga. Strategic Networks Group, which conducted the State of Tennessee's broadband assessment last year, is providing critical data to identify "problem owners" and "solution owners," and will help us evaluate the results of the pilot.

We're actively seeking other partners who understand the importance of next-generation Internet technology to create a more connected, open, and innovative city. The dual goals are to small and medium enterprise make greater use of gigabit broadband, and to increase workforce capabilities for digital strategies. We will use problem-based learning—a powerful, real-world, hands-on approach—for "regular folks" to provide actionable plans to local small and medium size enterprises grow and improve with technology. If this sounds interesting, please shoot me an email.

While Eduity is platform company rather than a program company, we feel strongly that this type of program is essential for communities. Our platform is designed to facilitate and support programs like this, but as with other technologies it's not the platform that matters, it's what you do with it. I personally share Mozilla's commitment to open programs, and am delighted that Eduity can be a vehicle for developing and promoting a model for community technology leadership programs.

by Greg Laudeman