I am going to preface this answer by stating a few facts about myself, so you can read this answer from the correct perspective:
- I was born and raised in New York City
- I have lived most of my life in and around major metropolitan areas (Washington, DC, Huntsville, AL, San Diego, CA, Cambridge, UK, Cabo San Lucas, MX, Orlando, Fl, Las Vegas, NV, San Francisco, CA, etc…)
- I have traveled extensively through the United States (for pleasure, as a digital nomad and as a speaker.)
I am “city folk.” I’m a geek. I’m an early adopter.
I’m the person friends and relatives (and friends of relatives) call when they get some new-fangled thing and they need help setting it up.
Depending on where they live, the definition of “new-fangled thing” varies greatly.
I first noticed this when I attended college in Alabama (which is the South, not the Midwest, but for the purposes of this question I’ll define it as “remote.”)
I arrived for orientation with my laptop and desktop and television and a cd changer/stereo thing as well as a disc man, cell phone, car with a CD player in it… (This was 1994.) they looked at me like I was an alien.
At an engineering school.
In a NASA town.
I found the 1 – ONE – computer store in town so invoice befriend them to get spare parts when needed, and it was a ghost town.
There was also a Radio Shack, and nothing else. Lots of grocery stores, though.
Fast Forward to 2004, I was in Helena, Arkansas. I couldn’t get cell signal and was desperate to buy a tracphone or anything so I could consistently call work while in the road.
I asked where the nearest Radio Shack or electronics store was, and was pointed to Wal-Mart by a lot of friendly people. It was a bustling store, and they had the same selection I would expect.
It was disheartening to see that there was nothing else – truly, no other options for shopping – available to this town, but they could get everything they needed there.
2009, while driving across the country, was planning to stop in St. Louis, MO but could not get cell signal on either of our phones (T-Mobile or Verizon.) We relied on them for Internet tethering, so had to pass.
2015, got picked to speak at the Kansas City Developer Conference. Had heard some interesting things about it – they have Google Fiber! Startup City in the Midwest! Kauffman Foundation was there, so was pretty interested to find out what was up.
When I got there, I honestly had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t in Austin, TX. This is a city that has embraced technology. The conference was packed with people of all ages, from all lines of work, doing things more tech-heavy than a lot of what we do on the coasts.
These people were an underserved class – it’s not that they don’t understand technology, it’s that the problems they need to solve are so different from what the coasts care about that they just stopped listening.
Why on earth would you spend good money on a smart phone when the best you get is 4G?
And who needs a smart tv if you’re on slow cable or satellite internet?
What Walmart sells is perfectly serviceable for middle America. (And those people who only have one desktop computer in the living room do have the Internet and go online shopping, talk on message boards, read Quora…)
Just like we use tech to solve the problems we see every day, so do they. They just don’t have trivial problems like “having someone stand in line for you” or “building your furniture from IKEA” – they’re creating new ways to grow food and fuel our infrastructure.
Middle America is not technologically backward. They’re the backbone of this country.
I’m proud to speak at KCDC, STLDoDN, CodeaPaLOUsa, etc, so I can continue to be around such amazing people.
Originally Posted: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-current-perception-in-the-Midwest-and-more-remote-areas-of-the-United-States-of-the-Technology-culture-and-trends
Originally Posted On: 2016-02-05