Side Projects As Solutions To Current Events

A side project is an idea, that is transformed into action and then it is shared with a community and improved upon. Side Projects are a great way to ask questions about what society needs and a great way to develop skills in new technology with low risk.

Twitter, facebook, AirBnB. All started out as side projects and questions that came out of a need to change our current way of doing things.

Why should you start a side project?

Side projects are a great way to help build your skills, and to learn new and emerging technology. Side projects help me put action behind my beliefs about wanting to make the world better. (cheesy, I know..) But the truth is, I would read articles, watch a video and think “hmm what can I build using programming that would either alleviate this problem or make it less cumbersome?” Often, I get my inspiration for a side project from current events.

The following list of side projects that I am suggesting here came out of two current events that have been given serious media attention. The SCOTUS Nomination of Brett Kavanagh and Hurricane Florence:

  1. An National Rapist List that could be contributed to by the wide community of survivors.
  2. An application like Uber and Lyft but for houses that were open to accepting people evacuating from their homes in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster.

These two ideas are pretty big by themselves. They ultimately came out of a desire to solve societal issues that were at the forefront of current events. The sexual assault allegations brought forward against SCOTUS nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and society’s continued response of victim blaming and lack of justice for survivors, led me to think about working with a different form of justice. Public humiliation has been used in society for generations. Social media has made it a more prominent form of punishment. In addition, creating a list of known rapists through a collaborative effort of survivors could be empowering to victims by allowing them to name their rapists and sexual assailants in a public forum. This list could then be shared on dating sites as a way to check if your date has committed sexual assault against another woman.

The second idea, came about in conversations surrounding evacuations during Hurricane Florence. These conversations focused on evacuations and the poor. Who could afford to evacuate and who couldn't? Evacuations are often a tool in response to an impending hazard, in this case, a hurricane that could potentially become a natural disaster. While many of the arguments are valid surrounding the need to be understanding towards people who can’t for one reason or another, evacuate. I started to wonder and question, how could a side project fill a needed gap in evacuation procedures.Evacuations are expensive, they require a large amount of resources to implement. But what if an application could fill one part of that equation? Finding a place to go, could be solved with an application that was built off the same idea that got Air BnB it’s start. What if community members offered up their extra rooms, or their floor space for others in the event of a disaster? I don’t have all the details of this worked out, but this side project idea, came out of a need to solve a current issue in a way that I knew how.

The bottom line, side projects come about when one asks a question about how to solve a current problem. Current events provide an opportunity to think about and question current solutions and to find different ways to improve our current solutions. I firmly believe that side projects allow for questions and ideas to flourish, to bring ideas into the forefront that otherwise would have been left in the mind entangled by self doubt and impostor syndrome. Side projects, help us dream big, develop skills and put passion into practice.