These actions matter, and there’s no denying they feel good, but they’re not enough.They’re not enough to build bridges of understanding between communities divide by important issues that affect them differently, including poverty, health, racism and sexism. We can do more. There’s always more to be done, and the tech community has a very important and useful role to play in all of this. We can all use our tech skills for good.
Enter hacktivism.Hacktivism also has a handy wikipedia definition: “the subversive use of computers and computer networks to promote a political agenda. With roots in hacker culture and hacker ethics, its ends are often related to the free speech, human rights, or freedom of information movements.” Traditionally, this term has been associated with polarizing figures in politics and pop culture ranging from Julian Assange to Mr. Robot. It gets thrown around with words like “anarchy” and “denial of service attacks”, inspiring fear in corporates, governments and individuals alike. Hacking has many definitions and is by no means a new term, but I’d like to argue it’s a good thing. I’d like to make it into a rallying cry. We should all be hacktivists. Merriam-Webster defines a hacker as “an expert at programming and solving problems with a computer.” The majority of us know how to use computers these days, and I think we all can agree that there are more than enough problems to be solved in this world. All you have to do is commit to something: commit a weekend to building something that can have a positive impact on social, commit your time volunteering to support someone else building something you admire, commit to show up to the rally or march, or make a commit to that open-source project you’ve had your eye on. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1) Get Inspired.Find tech projects that cover issues that matter to you. Passionate about the environment? Check out Data Refuge, which is building a refuge for federal data to support climate and environmental research and advocacy. Passionate about politics and civic engagement? Check out Tech Stands Up, a grassroots movement founded by techies in the Bay Area to voice concerns about the effects of government policy on the tech community and its users Looking for a specific issue or nonprofit to support? I recently spoke with Fadi Azmy, from the Developers Foundation, an organization that builds products to scale charities while giving students real work experience. “We started a year exactly as of the end of this month actually, and we’ve grown from 3 people to over 30 members,” he mentioned, “This started when I was donating clothes and found homeless shelter websites to be horribly ancient while I was a student looking for experience.” They have university chapters in Canada, expecting 5 by next year. Check them out here.
2) Go Abroad!Looking to take your tech skills abroad? I’d highly recommend the mentorship program at Gaza Sky Geeks, it will change your life! They are looking for mentors to bridge that gap and expose Gazans to global best practices in software development and entrepreneurship. Developers, startup geeks, designers, angel investors and more are welcome to apply here.
3) Join a Hackathon.If you’ve read anything i’ve written before, and you’re still reading – you already saw this coming 😉 Below are a few events to get you started – there are many more to be found, of course! Comment below or tweet me @hazeltrack to add them:
- Ctrl Alt Del Hate Hackathon w/ AngelHack & Thoughtworks, Tech Stands Up & We Persist – April 1-2, 2017, San Francisco
- Data For Democracy – March 31-April 2, Seattle
- Social Good Hackathon – March 31- April 1, Toronto
- NYUAD Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World – April 14-16, 2017, Abu Dhabi
- Baylor College of Medicine Global Health Hackathon – June 12-28, 2017, Houston, TX