Naga Chokkanathan

Why Not? — Hack For Humanity

Posted on: May 28, 2010

‘Hacking’ is one of the most misused terms in information age. Many people (still) believe it refers to criminals and fraudsters who steal credit card numbers and bank account details of unsuspecting victims.

The truth is, Hackers are a proud bunch of super-intelligent individuals who want to be a level above regular users, and programmers. They hack into electronic circuits, software programs, websites and many more, and find (or even create) strange, but many times helpful uses for them. Of course, there may be few people who use this knowledge for doing illegal things, but that doesn’t mean all hackers are criminals.

In fact, recently Hackers have gone ahead and started doing something very useful to the entire humanity (or at least parts of it). That project is called “Random Hacks Of Kindness”.

This group uses technology and innovation to make world a better place. It brings together hackers all across the world and they develop software & applications to support people who are affected by natural disasters.

burning music cds

(Clipart Courtesy: http://www.openclipart.org/detail/6713)

For example, they have a very interesting application called “I’mOK”. This is a mobile software which you can load in your cell phone. Later, if, God forbid there is a disaster in your area, all your friends, relatives and co-workers will be worried if you are okay, At that time, you can press a single button in this mobile application and it will send a SMS and / or Email and / or Facebook message to a predefined set of people, even in a jam-packed network typical in disaster areas.

This is only a sample, when all the intelligent hackers across the globe get together, they can build so many other apps and solve important problems. That’s why major companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! And organizations like NASA, World Bank have come together to found this organization. They work with many government officials, NGOs and other companies to decide on important problems, and build solutions using existing technologies / new innovations.

For many decades, technology is seen (and used) as a tool for improving our convenience in doing day to day activities. But when applied at the right way, it can solve problems for billions of underprivileged people. For example, Nokia has a service which teaches village children “Spoken English”, one word a day, another application tells farmers information such as weather, commodity prices etc., “Random Hacks Of Kindness” should extend beyond just natural disasters, and look at such long term social benefits too, at least in countries like India.

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N. Chokkan …

28 05 2010

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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Organization He works for / belongs to.

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