Sunday, October 28, 2007

socially conscious programming

here is a thought... we need more programmers to help solve social problems. i've been reading the book Giving: How each of us can change the world and one of the things that i immediately thought of is that technology can change the world. duh... industrial revolution and the information age.

socially conscious programming is something that i just made up, to express the idea of applying technology to problems like AIDS, hunger, extreme poverty, disaster relief, environment education, etc. all of these causes need technology, yet i bet little funding is made available to pay for cutting edge technology.

philanthropy is becoming more main stream now days with the likes of bill gates and warren buffet. and its cool to see things like its great to see big money and big companies helping out the major social causes.

but, what about the community level issues, for example helping the Hawaii Education of the ARTS, and organization who is asking for help right now. there are probably hundreds of thousands of NGOs that need minor technology help; from access databases, websites, to information packets. we could and should help. but, i'm not sure how to organize that. hackers are afraid of the constant nagging computer-illiterate friends that need help with stuff.

going back to the major social causes. wouldn't it be cool to work on something that has a major sociological benefit. something that truly changes the world. my love for hacking is secondary to my love for helping people. an awesome job would be to create cool innovative technology that saves the world from global warming (just an example). i would love that job.

oh.... and how do i do that without taking a big pay cut. haha. just joking, well maybe not. that is a problem. maybe that separates the true givers from the rest.

bottom line
making a little money on the internet is pretty straight forward now days. making a small positive difference in the world on the internet is a lot harder. my prediction is that is going to change soon. it needs to.


ebot said...


Stumbled across this post searching for, drumroll, "socially conscious programming". I think there are many techies with a similar sentiment: "I want to save the world and make a decent salary." I don't think the two are mututally exclusive.

In response to your comment about immediate, community needs I see a potential soultion. There are three main groups involved: non-techies that know they need help, non-techies with money that want to help and techies that want to help and need money. Sounds perfect. The only problem is communication. One idea would be to create a system similar to open-source bounties but involving 3 parties. Basically, those that need help post their specific requests, technical people then express their willingness to implement/consult and philanthropists or philanthropic organizations commit to a donation to make it happen.

This wouldn't be practical for all scenarios but it would be a start.

aaron said...

woah. so i just saw this comment. 5 years later. i was looking for this blog post because i had an idea that stemmed from socially conscious programming.