Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

on hacking for good

I read Ryan Rix's weblog post, "Hacking for Good 1" this morning. In the post, he discusses the way that folks are connected to kindred spirits in the virtual space,but sometimes
get disconnected from people in "real time" realspace. He makes the point that one use of technology for good is to figure out how to facilitate people getting more in touch with the people around them.

I like people, though I am perhaps more a loner than some folks. It's important to me that the daily fabric include friendly greetings and common courtesy. I thought to myself recently,though, that some ways folks seek to bridge the gap between folks do not work for me. When I go to church, I feel at home and connected,until they get to the part, usually near the beginning, when everyone is supposed to stand up and greet one's neighboring congregants.

Though I join in with appropriate "good morning!" handshake participatory zeal, I always leave this exercise feeling more distant than I was before the drill. Perhaps it is just me, or perhaps it is the extremely artificial nature of the beast. I'm much more at home sitting in a large space with people I do not know engaging in a common spiritual practice. That seems much more real to me than a "hi, how are you?" handshake ceremony.

I have a similar theory that eBay is the best social media. In eBay, one buys or sells, and the enterprise works because one stranger gets money and ships goods to another stranger, with simple messages and e-mails all around. It takes a lot of faith to do eBay, though my faith is tempered with sufficient skepticism that I rarely do large transactions there. But it is life-affirmig that this particular little free-ish market actually works, and that one often encounters common courtesy there. It is like social media in another way--regular users have needless panic attacks over minor terms of service issues.

Ultimately, things like Facebook and LiveJournal and Twitter are all engines for good merely disguised as ways to make corporate revenue. It's true that it's too bad that engines like MeetUp never really fulfilled their promise to link people up in real space. Yet the Audubon Society and Friends of the Library and the chess club and the garden club soldier on, to say nothing of hot rod and classic auto clubs.

I do not know much about hacking for good, but I do think that there are ways to bridge the gaps among people, on-line, off-line, and between the lines.
Perhaps it is a worthy effort to learn more.

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