Technology as the Wheel of Change
The year was 2015. I was attending Java One, one of those technology conventions that are held every year, and in almost all lectures the speaker preached the same mantra: let’s make use of all our knowledge and all the power of technology to increase sales, strive for a larger market share and enlarge the company we work for as a whole.
There is nothing wrong with that per se, those are mostly the reasons why we work, after all. But in that year Forbes published an article whose title was “Why every company is a technology company?”. According to Forbes, the companies that don’t realize that are doomed to fail, and to fail badly.
One of the speakers quoted that article with a very interesting conclusion: if the technology is the magic wand that dictates the rules of the game, it is, therefore, only logical to conclude that a great power was suddenly put in the hands of those who create the technology. Sherlock would be proud.
We spend our lives complaining of those who hold the power. From politicians to colleagues, people are always inclined to use however power they possess to pursuit what seems best to them, not to the group as a whole. But now, oddly enough and out of nowhere, we are suddenly in charge of the steering. The big question, though, is what we are going to do with this supreme, unexpected power.
Now, we can make a choice.
There are those who still insist there is nothing wrong in the world, that everything is a plot conceived by the media or some kind of conspiracy theory. I wish. About 31 millions of girls that should be in primary school are out of it, and the number grows by 1 million if we talk about the second grade. Those numbers are horribly high, and we are still talking only about girls.
It is estimated that around 783 million people — one in nine people in the world — don’t have access to clear water. In fact, 20% of the deaths of children under 5 are caused by the poor quality of water. Water-related diseases occupy 50% of the hospital beds in the world, this is half of the total capacity of our hospitals. Half of it.
There are plenty of social quandaries lurking around every bend. Discrimination and prejudice, for example, and they come in many forms: social, economic, sexual, political… In 2016, believe it or not, the women’s salary is still 30% lower than the salary of men in the same occupation, and there is no plausible reason for that, it is just the way things are. It is really hard to imagine there is absolutely nothing we can do to change it.
The numbers are out there to illustrate how bad the situation is. Countless are the areas in need of improvement, and what most people don’t realize is the impact that we can cause with simple, focused solutions.
Action speaks louder than words.
So this is the time to leave the realm of the ideas and to get our hands dirty a little bit. We tend to believe that not only the effective solutions are only possible if they come from big corporations, but also that those are the only possible solutions. However, most ideas that made those same corporations so big came from one person or a small group of people.
Read the story of the most important companies nowadays and you will see a pattern. People fought for what they believed, and, okay, many ideas did not work and you will not find them on the Internet for obvious reasons, but, hey, aren't your ideas worth a try? Not even one of them?
If we feel we do not possess the energy, the money, the time or whatever resource is needed to bring a project to life, find someone to give you a hand or at least help those that are already on the road. Share. Invest. Praise. Tell everybody how great that thing is, how that amazing project is helping. Maybe it will make a difference, maybe not. How about giving it a try?
Let’s put our ideas in a list and see to which one we can give birth. An app to help abandoned animals to find a home? Not that hard to do. A plugin that raises funds to donate every time the user open a tab in the browser? Outstanding idea! I recently came across a group created to encourage women to code, challenging the status quo that dictates that IT is just for men. We need (a lot more) of that.
The world is ours to change. We can sit still and complain or we can do something about it. A small step is still a step, so check around to see if others want to dive into your project and let’s go make a difference together.
What is your next project?