Code for the Good of The World

Posted on by ejames

It was a late Thursday night when we got the email from Laurence:

We are encouraging people to hack things together for the fun of it, for passion. This by itself is good enough to kick start some of the students’ journey to doing fun stuff, but I was thinking, what if there was a higher purpose behind it.

While I don’t agree with Ben Leong on many things, he has this philosophy that I subscribe to. The core of it is to do the right thing, to bring value to society, not for money, but because it’s the right thing to do.

I was thinking that we set up a new program under NUSHackers to hack together generic software for non-profit organizations for free. These organizations can request for features and someone could add it in when there’s time. Many of these organizations just need simple software that are small in size, and most of them require the same features. Unfortunately, the only organization creating these software for free for them is CVWO, which only handles 2 medium size projects a year, and have to reject the smaller projects.

I believe part of what we do as hackers, is to bring value to society. Why not encourage the students to actually do such things, instead of being coders for those biz monkeys, doing things for the sake of getting a job?

While there’s more money on that side, there’s more happiness on this side. If we keep doing the right things, NUSHackers might just become one of the clubs in NUS that creates the most value.

What do you guys say?

We said yes.

We haven’t fully worked out the details of this project, but we are already thinking about the organizational structure needed to make this work. Whatever we write - it would be open source, and it’d likely also be reusable for many of the organizations who are in need of some web software.

But the best thing about this is that it makes perfect sense. It’s in line with why we’re doing all these things at NUS Hackers, and whatever good comes of it will outlive the current coreteam. Plus:

  • You benefit. Anyone can join up - submit code, or report issues. And managing an open-source project is sure to be an eye-opening experience (one that’s just as valid in the real world as the traditional software development cycle taught in the sterile conditions of school). Plus it’s fun, plus everyone involved has working code that helps when you’re looking for a job.
  • We benefit. We’re interested in spreading the hacker culture. What better way to do that than to build things together?
  • The world benefits. Open source code is available to everyone, so it’s not just the non-profit organizations that win out. And it makes our lives easier when such organizations come to us for help with setting up their sites for them.
This initiative makes sense on so many levels, and we’re rather excited just thinking about it. More news in a bit.

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