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Author Topic: What’s Better: Saving the World or Building Another Facebook app?  (Read 1672 times)

app103

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Running on just sugar and caffeine, 32 teams of students worked non-stop for 18 hours to develop applications that they hoped would blow the judges’ socks off. This was at the UC-Berkeley Hackathon, last weekend. Indeed, many teams succeeded in their mission. They built some amazing software: to provide server-side rendering of games, convert website mockups to HTML/CSS, create sophisticated playlists for Youtube videos, and to analyze Twitter streams. One team even built a gaming interface for a neural headset.

There were so many cool tools that the seven judges, who included representatives from Zynga, Facebook, Y-Combinator (and me), had a hard time picking a winner in each category. The exception was the “social good” category. There was only one team worthy of receiving this prize. The team built a system to enable villagers in developing countries to send SMSs to volunteers across the globe who provide emergency medical advice. But the Silicon Valley judges couldn’t see the value of this technology. One commented, “If the villager has a cell-phone, why doesn’t he just call 911? This is really dumb”. (Most of the judges didn’t understand that 911 services don’t exist in most places in the world, and that SMSs have become the internet of the developing world). Instead, the panel awarded the prize to a team that developed a polling technology for university classrooms and for conferences. The rationale for this decision? “Helping universities is a social good.”

This brings me to the point of this post. What if we challenged these students and Silicon Valley to build businesses that do good for the planet and make a healthy profit doing so? Today, the world faces more problems than perhaps at any point in recent history. The economy is on the brink. Greenhouse gases threaten to turn Earth into a giant steam room. Scarce resources such as food, water, and oil have already become international flashpoints as the developing and developed worlds jockey for position to sustain or improve their standards of living. Drug-resistant bacteria threaten us with doomsday plagues. Yet we have the greatest minds and the deepest pool of investment capital in the world focused on building Facebook and Twitter apps.


Eóin

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Re: What’s Better: Saving the World or Building Another Facebook app?
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2010, 12:20:02 AM »
What’s Better: Saving the World or Writing an Article?[/sarcasm]

Directed at the author, not app!

app103

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Re: What’s Better: Saving the World or Building Another Facebook app?
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2010, 12:35:04 AM »
What’s Better: Saving the World or Writing an Article?[/sarcasm]

Directed at the author, not app!

If it was any other TechCrunch writer and the average TC article, I might agree with you, sarcastically.

But...

The author (Vivek Wadhwa) is the only one at TechCrunch that I read. Only guy with his head screwed on straight and not lusting after the popular crap and fanboi admiration.

In fact, he tends to really piss off the average fanboi type TechCrunch reader with a lot of the stuff he has to say. Like this article he wrote, really stirred up a ton of negativity in the comments, but it was spot on. (a large portion of the article was about the experiences of our very own alex3f)