Last week we hosted one of our best Table Talks series yet, focusing on the topic of "Technology for Social Good." Given our long history working with nonprofits, we were excited to hear other designers, developers, and technologists talk about how they've used their powers for good.
Overall, a running theme seemed to be that technology for technology's sake cannot make the world a better place—but in the hands of smart, thoughtful, mindful people, it can be the agent for meaningful invention. Think: a quickly deployed web app that allowed Boston marathon runners to call their families after last year's bombing, when cell towers were overloaded; or a text helpline designed to aid and track down kidnapping victims.
Check out all the presentations at our PechaKucha channel, and get inspired about how people are using technology to impact the world in positive ways.
Here's just a taste of what you'll hear:
Michael Slaby, Obama for America, "Elevate Purpose": "Technology is not the point. Novelty is not an outcome. In a mission-driven organization, the mission is what matters....We need more talent focused on better problems. Rather than another photo sharing application, we need more brilliant, world-class minds thinking about the potential that a smart-phone app might have for helping refugees find their families."
Bo Peng, Datascope Analytics, "The Importance of Being Empathetic": "It doesn't matter how accurate your models are or how shiny your new app is, unless you're empathetic to the people you're trying to help."
Matt Gee, University of Chicago, "Data Science for Social Good": "[The city of Chicago] was creating a new thing—call it the Chicago School of Data, that is teaching the world how to use data in the service of humanity....In the end it’s not the conglomeration of a whole bunch of big data sets that makes the world a better place, it’s the accumulation of small but significant human actions."
Carolyn Chandler, School for Digital Craftsmanship, "Mindfulness in Education": "Don't just teach to the mind, but also teach to the heart."
Greg Baugues, Twilio, "A Billion Messages for Good": "Faster communication saves lives. We're trying to change communication forever by making it easier for developers to communicate with the world."