Fox Dean Chip, Wink, Sondra and Munir

I was honored with the 2024 IBIT “Innovators Award”

I proudly accepted Wednesday the “Innovators Award” from the Temple University Fox School of Business’s Institute for Business and Information Technology. The award is “given annually to a person or persons for innovation in applying IT to create business opportunity.”

The award was timed with the launch of the 14th annual Philly Tech Week, which I founded, and the 15th anniversary of, a local news org that has adapted in this strange economic period for community journalism. The transfer of last year was also a relevant example of my work.I was proud that my references for the award were my friends journalist-turned-college-dean David Boardman and entrepreneur Bob Moore. I formerly emceed these very awards, which are led by the thoughtful and analytical Munir Y. Mandviwalla and Laurel Miller. Knowing what they put into these awards made it all the more special. I was certainly in good company: My fellow award-winner was Jeff Hamilton, who was the CIO of Pfizer while the company rolled out its covid-19 vaccine.

Below, I share my remarks from the award event.

Chris Wink speaking Temple IBIT

Here is the transcript of the speech I gave before accepting the IBIT Innovators Award for business model innovation. (A version was adapted for publication on here.)


In August 1988, 32-year-old Chinese professor Wang Huning started a six-month academic tour of the United States. 

He visited over 30 cities, including Philadelphia—home to what he called “physical textbooks of political tradition,” such as the Liberty Bell. He admired these American temples to nationhood nearly as much as he admired the country’s technological leadership—from space exploration to electronic pencil sharpeners. True. 

All this made it into a book he published with the translated title of “America Against America.” In recent years, the book has had a revival in China, and here too among policy wonks. That’s because Wang is today one of the most influential political theorists for the Chinese Communist Party. What he experienced 35 years ago is demonstrably shaping global politics today. I want to tell what lesson his experience might have for you.

In a way, this is what I do for a living: I seek out small people stories that help explain bigger complex issues. That’s journalism. 

This year marks 15 years of publishing, a local news org read by technologists and entrepreneurs in five US cities that I started and lead. This Friday kicks off the 14th annual Philly Tech Week, which I helped launch so long ago. (You should check out We’re a small team of 15 that was described recently as “one of the longest-surviving local online news sites.” What a grim description.

The internet’s global scale wrecked the 20th century model of local news. You know that already. Nonprofit news models backed by charitable giving are slowly growing in many communities and good thing. But my career has focused on how commercial models can adapt in the digital age, and the AI age to follow. Mostly this work has been left behind because it’s too boring for most people who love journalism, and it doesn’t make enough money for people who like to make money.

At Technically, we’ve kept our media business-model straightforward: serve an audience that matters, and then rent access to that audience. This approach has not only sustained us but has allowed Technically to thrive (relatively) in an era where the traditional models of local news have struggled. If you need to hire technologists or reach entrepreneurs, then we can help, which in turn supports journalism. Not that our customers even need to know that.

So , before I accept the IT Innovator Award from Temple University Fox School’s Institute for Business and Information Technology, let’s do a bit of journalism. Let me share what I take as Wang’s central message.

As enthralled as Wang was with invention in the United States, he wrote that Americans had come to rely too much on technology. He pointed to how we treat our elders and people with disabilities. We conjure whiz-bang technologies such as “automatically guided wheelchairs, automated bedside service equipment and glasses that guide the blind.” But, he argued, very few of us spend much time with people who rely on these tools. Americans have a superficial sense of community, he thought. Technology is used as an escape from responsibility. 

In the United States, Wang wrote, “it is not the people who master the technology, but the technology that masters the people.” 

In policy circles today, analysts focus on the conclusion from Wang, who is now considered a major influence on Chinese policy. As Wang put it back then: “If you want to overwhelm the Americans, you must do one thing: surpass them in science and technology.”

When Wang visited Independence Hall in Old City, Philadelphia, the line was too long to venture in. Standing on Chestnut Street, I like to imagine this future architect of one of the most important political systems on the planet groaning at too many tourists from Iowa — deciding with his tour group to get cheesesteakssteaks wiz wit or just settle for a hoagie. Yet reading his book, he was clearly in awe of the American project.

Peering through the windows into where the US Constitution was debated and signed, Wang asked of the Americans, but surely looking inwardly of his Chinese home too, “If the value system collapses, how can the social system be sustained?”

One of the defining features of the US value system is independent, challenging and professionally verified information — that is trusted by a wide range of Americans. Journalism is a strategy that uses storytelling to help a community reach a closer approximation of its truth. Whether that community is big or small doesn’t matter. Whether it’s in news articles or TikToks; podcasts or events, doesn’t matter either. More important is with whom and how we build trust to deliver uncomfortable truths.

In my view, bare-knuckled entrepreneurship and science-backed technology are other key parts of the American value system. They are all central to the noisy and dyspeptic thing we call the United States. That’s why I’ve contributed all I can to being one more journalistic source about issues I care so much about: building technology, growing companies and getting more people access to these careers.

That’s a message I hope we all take: Build with your values in mind. Be curious about the world. Don’t wait too long in line for a tourist stop.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing IBIT, including Munir and Laurel, for many years. I once emceed these very awards, and I was always impressed by the community they brought together, and the effort they put into this event. That’s why it means so much to accept this honor. I give everything I have to use technology to address a problem I see in the world — local information gaps — and I know all of you are doing something like it in your own work. Thank you.

Chris and Shannon Wink

Leave a Reply